Have you ever considered taking a sales job? No doubt, the art of selling comes a little easier to certain people than it does to others. But if you’ve never considered yourself the “sales” type, you may be missing out.
An opportunity in sales can turn into a lifelong career or simply a stepping stone towards a different path, as Alice Mbori-Mwalimo, Head of Sales at GlaxoSmithKline Kenya, noted recently at a Shortlist panel discussion. She observed that sales professionals are more likely than any other function to progress to a General Manager, due to their deep understanding of the product and customer, and the other valuable skills they’ve developed over time in a sales position.
What exactly are those skills? Read on to learn more:
Clear and persuasive communication
The key to a great salesperson is their ability to communicate persuasively and succinctly, so taking on a sales job can help you cultivate those qualities. With consistent practice and engagement with different customers, you will learn how to adapt to different communication tactics depending on the individual you are interacting with.
In a sales job, you’ll learn how to deliver an effective elevator pitch, a hallmark of great communication skills. In a fast-paced environment, you will find that the ability to succinctly communicate your value proposition is essential.
Communication and presentation skills will be valuable to you both in personal and professional areas, no matter your chosen field. After all, every day you are explaining an idea, process or feeling to others around you – why not hone that skill in your job, too?
One of the most significant outcomes of a sales job is the cultivation of excellent listening skills. It’s no secret that people love to talk – especially about themselves, their achievements and their needs – and customers are no exception. It’s crucial that you listen and make them feel that they are heard. You learn how to take a step back and prioritize listening to those around you rather than focus on the hard sell. This will be helpful in any role, especially as a manager.
Flexibility and adaptability
As you gain more experience in your sales role, you will face some uncertain situations which have the potential of throwing you off course – these can range from meeting schedules, locations, or changing client needs. In a sales job, you will learn how to navigate these and ensure that you can adapt to whatever setting you find yourself in.
Resilience and grit
It’s no secret that a sales role will have its tough moments- unmet targets, demanding client needs, and tiring days full of meetings and demos. But each time you find a way to get past these challenges, you build your resilience. Learning how to manage setbacks and stressful situations will go a long way in helping you push through hurdles until you succeed.
Walking up to someone and starting a conversation is certainly not an easy task. Every cold-call or client meeting will be scary in the beginning. However, it gets easier with time. As you learn how to interact with different people in diverse situations, you ultimately build your confidence in selling and presenting yourself. In turn, this will be key throughout your career, especially when networking during a job search.
For your product to have value in a potential client’s eyes, you need to be solving a problem for them. As Salesforce sales expert Aaron Ross said, “Customers don’t care at all whether you close the deal or not. They care about improving their business.”
Other times you may encounter challenges with the functionality of a product sold to a client. As a salesperson, you need to understand the customer’s needs. In addition to this, understand your product functionality from end to end to troubleshoot appropriately.
Research skills in your sales job and beyond
To be a successful salesperson, you must understand what your potential customer does. With a sales job, every day you will be conducting research into an organisation’s operations. You will also prepare questions you will need to ask to get the most useful information. This skill will benefit you in the long run as ultimately, you learn how to make decisions based on facts.
The beauty of the skills you gain from a sales role is that they are transferable across different fields and industries. So next time you get an opportunity to take up a sales job, go into it with an open mind and see where you can go! Oh, and did we mention the flexibility in work hours?
In conclusion, whether you are new to sales or are already working within the field, developing these eight skills will help you advance to the next level. For all, you book lovers, a great one I’d recommend is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. In this book, he shares simple rules on how to achieve success with people. All these, illustrated from his own and others’ experiences.
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Have you had the opportunity to take on a role outside your field of study? Please share some of your key learnings with us in the comment section.