A Career in Sales: What They Don’t Teach You in School
You’ve heard of the “school of hard knocks”: The (sometimes painful) education you get from life’s usually negative experiences, often contrasted with formal education. It’s reality. It’s when your mom & dad used to say, “Welcome to the real world.”
There are few professions other than sales that experience this “school” every single day – & now it’s in HD! Sales is different. It’s an art. It’s about people. People have personalities. People are different. Most salespeople get these lessons over their careers. They sometimes come at a huge cost (time, energy & money combined). Let’s shorten your learning curve & come to the hard realization that the following 10 statements are 100% true. Realize it fast.
Ten Things about a Career in Sales they Don’t Teach you in School:
- You don’t punch a clock in sales.
The great ones make it a lifestyle & are “always on”. Evenings, weekends, holidays, etc.
- It’s lonely out there.
If you are a commissioned salesperson nobody will care that your prospect “said they would buy” or “is getting ready to buy”. Your boss does not care that you are sick (& that does not make her a jerk). We are measured by results. Closed sales. Period.
- Sales is NO PLACE to get your needs met.
If you are looking for friends, join the Peace Corps or a bowling league.
- You fail more often than you succeed.
Repeat: You will fail more often than you succeed. If you are working, prospecting, hunting for opportunities more people will tell you NO than tell you YES. Get used to it.
- When someone says they want to “think it over” they really mean NO.
“Think it over” does not mean YES. You can’t cash a “think it over”. If you trust people that say they want to “think it over” you will have skinny kids.
- If you are not comfortable talking about money you will starve.
Your job is to sell products/services at profitable margins. This requires discussions about their money & where it will come from.
- Your colleagues in other departments think you have the life (& will begrudge you).
They may not tell you, but they do. When you are out of the office people naturally think you are screwing off. It’s not true (unless it is). You will never convince them otherwise. Stop trying.
- It’s OK to be competitive & want money.
If “for the money” is not in your top 2 reasons to be in sales get another job.
- If you don’t see yourself “worthy” in front of high-level decision makers, you are in trouble.
High level decision makers are important. They make things happen. They are busy. They don’t have time for “social calls” or “idle chit-chat”. Stop talking to Carl, the clerk – he can’t make a decision to save his life!
- If you are not completely comfortable with the word NO, you will struggle – seriously struggle.
Similar to #4 above. You won’t go 10 for 10 every month in sales. This rejection kills some salespeople. I have seen some incredibly intelligent people drop out of selling careers because they could not stand to be told NO.
Don’t take 5 or 10 or 20 years to learn these lessons. Learn them now, get over it & move on. Despite what they don’t teach you in school sales is still the coolest profession in the world!