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15 Tips for Graduates Seeking a Career in Sales

SmarterCX Team
July 20, 2020

6 minute read

Just like the variety of flavors to choose from at an ice cream shop, sales jobs are widely diverse. While your career path in sales may vary, Sami Halabi, Social and Sales Enablement Manager at Oracle, states one timeless sales principle to live by, “Good salespeople focus on being good salespeople. Exceptional salespeople focus on being good people.”

Looking to get started with a career in sales but not sure where to begin? In the third part of our tips for graduates series, we asked CX professionals for their best advice for those seeking a career in sales, and here’s what we learned:

Understand your motivations

“It’s important for job seekers to understand their personalities and motivations. There are different types of sales jobs as there are different people. One should know what they’re drawn to and why before looking. Some sales jobs are relationship driven while some are customer service. The level of rejection varies with each type and so does the reward system.

Go on message boards like LinkedIn or business forums and ask to connect with salespeople in the fields you have an interest. Let them tell you what it takes to be successful. Typically, the
top reps will be glad to offer their advice. You have to do something to bring value to the organization. Having a degree is not a game changer. Your desire, effort, and persistence will be.”

Make the most of your network

“My best advice for recent grads is to first learn how to sell yourself as a candidate. Make the most of your network (alumni, college career resources, friends/family) as well as the experience you put on your resume (coursework, internships, and volunteer work). It may not feel like it, but you do have a lot of value to offer employers right now. Identify that value and be sure to include it on your resume, cover letters, LinkedIn, and in an elevator pitch.

You can also practice your soft skills. In 2020, employers are looking for soft skills like creativity, emotional intelligence, and collaboration. These skills are great for sales professionals because you have to be able to communicate flexibly with clients and the internal team.”

  • Caitlin Proctor, Career Expert, Zipjob

Practice your sales pitch

“A textbook or a course can only prepare you for so much until you do the job itself. Consistently practice your sales pitch. Even if you’re not very confident in it the first time, it will get better.

Keep track of everything that you sell, especially if you have a high-volume quota. A mountain of a quota over a month or even a quarter can look like a small hill if approached correctly. Look at your actions taken hour by hour or day by day. Keep chopping down that huge tree of a goal, and before you know it, you will have exceeded expectations.”

Learn to say sorry

“Fresh grads should understand that the sales industry needs more compassionate and understanding people, especially if you’re dealing with customers. Learn to always say sorry the moment your customer complains that they’re not satisfied. What will matter is what you do to compensate for that unsatisfactory feeling. ”

Sell your own strengths

“The most important thing college grads need to develop if they’re looking for a job in sales is the ability to sell themselves, first and foremost. There’s a lot of data you can use to tweak the customer experience and adjust your sales pitch as well as your long-term buyer’s journey, but none of this is as valuable as learning to sell your own skills and personality.

Even salespeople who aren’t out there tracking down leads still need to get their position across succinctly and enthusiastically to customers as well as team members. Figure out what your strengths are as a salesperson and play to those. Doing so will help you in whatever sales career you pursue.”

Don’t take rejection personally

“The faster you learn not to take rejection personally, the faster your career will take off. So many new salespeople get frustrated or burnt out by all of the rejections. They aren’t rejecting you, they’re rejecting what you’re trying to sell them. As long as you’re doing your best to sell properly, you have nothing to feel bad about. Just cross them off your list and move on to the next prospect.”

Pursue online classes

“If you have time or a gap in your studies or employment, use the time wisely to be a better candidate than you are now. Take online classes and learn more about the area you’re wishing to pursue. Be more well-rounded in sales, so you can adapt to any job title that’s out there. You will broaden your search terms and hopefully find a few that are possibilities.”

  • Christopher Prasad, Marketing Manager, JookSMS

Be intrinsically motivated

“The greatest tip that I can give is that you have to be intrinsically motivated. The field of sales is extremely competitive and filled with rejections. Your manager/boss may be breathing down your neck if you’re unable to meet your target and you must be able to handle that pressure.

Not everyone is cut out for sales because it’s a really demanding job. You’ll need to be extremely patient and determined if you’re going to make it in the field. If you read this and get fired up for the challenge that lies ahead of you, then I’m sure you’ll fit right in!”

  • Chris Brenchley, Co-Founder and CEO, Surehand

Understand where you excel

“My best tip for graduates seeking a career in sales is to get a basic understanding of the entire sales process and different types of sales, but then focus your knowledge and skills to become an expert in a specific area of sales.

This may take some trial and error early in your career but knowing where you excel is important for selling yourself to the future companies you wish to work with.”

Let your enthusiasm shine

“Sales is the transfer of enthusiasm from one person to another. When you are fresh out of college, your resume can only speak so much about you. You most likely have limited experience. Let your enthusiasm shine and win over others through your personality and passion! The experience will come later.”

Stay on top of trends

“A tip that I’d like to impart to new graduates and also wish I had learned when I was just starting, is to always stay on top of trends.

Just like life, the only thing that’s constant when it comes to sales is change. Catching up on trends will make sure that you don’t miss important signals and even hone your instinct to predict future chapters.”

Prepare and always think critically

“For recent college grads who are enthusiastic to get a career in sales, my advice to you is that success comes through prepping, studying, and, most importantly, critical thinking.

The general misconception in sales is that all a person has to do is hit the phones hard and fast, and you’ll immediately be successful by brute force. Nothing has ever been further from the reality of the situation, as it de-emphasizes the role that intelligence plays in sales.

You have to be able to provide good customer service right from the start by being able to answer customers’ questions and the only way to do that is by critical thinking and preparation.”

Master speaking to strangers

“Show that you already possess what it takes to be a great future salesperson. More specifically, your previous internships and work experiences should clearly demonstrate your fearlessness in speaking to strangers. It could be cold calling, canvassing, door-to-door sales, or even small public talks, but this is essential and proves you have the guts to succeed in this line of work.

Speaking to strangers can be very intimidating to most, as after all, you’re not familiar with them. Transcending this fear proves beyond doubt that you possess that x-factor that is instrumental to succeeding in sales.”

Follow your passions

“Think about your personal passions, experiences, and areas of interest. Perhaps you have a keen interest in modern technology or a love of sports. You can then look for sales opportunities within your preferred sector. The sense of interest and enthusiasm should be quite apparent when it comes to the interview. You’ll also stand a better chance of selling if you have a firm belief in the benefits of the product or service.”

Demonstrate your previous experience

“If you’ve previously worked part-time in a retail store as a sales advisor during your undergrad and you’ve met your targets on a consistent basis, make sure that you mention it. It’s also a bonus if you’ve done any customer service role.

To really stand out from the rest of the crowd, demonstrate to your recruiter that you’ve worked in a fast-paced/pressure driven environment and you’ve met your KPIs. Such a proven track record will attract your potential employers’ attention and will also help you secure your interview. You can really win them over during the interview by giving them the facts and numbers.”

Don’t stop there! See more articles like this:

SmarterCX Team
The SmarterCX team is comprised of subject matter experts, writers, artists, designers, and CX professionals who are dedicated to building a smarter customer experience.
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