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Why Would Anyone Go into Sales?

Why don’t we teach high school kids about sales as a profession?  …because it doesn’t have the cache of doctor or lawyer — but truthfully, more of us will go into sales than will be doctors or lawyers and doctors and lawyers need to be sales people too.

I’s a great way to make a living and it can pay very well. Many of us work best when we can be

a) independent

b) not in an “office” all day

c) helping people (n.b. not “outgoing”!)

d) rewarded for our hard work not just “paid like everyone else” (note I didn’t say highly paid)

I read this article on Why Gen Yer’s Hate Sales and the reasons listed here are the same reason EVERYONE is skeptical about sales people… the author says that sales

— seem dishonest

— is decidedly not collaborative

— relies on big cash and big wins

— focuses on selling not on relationships

These perspectives are absolutely NOT true for the majority of hard working sales people. They’ll tell you it’s all about relationships and collaboration. The best sales people I know are:

— Great listeners (not great talkers)

— Actively looking to solve problems – collaboratively

— Know that if they are not honest and straightforward their business is going to disappear

Sales positions comes in many flavors…  recruiting (human resources) to product/services (marketing) to business development (strategic partnering).

The truth is… we’re always selling somebody something whether it’s our children (no you don’t want a pony), spouse, boss, colleague or customer. Right?

For inspiration go to Jeffrey Gitomer — he is a well-respected sales guru who motto is: “Add Value First” – a perfect fit with social media and the rise of customer power.

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2 Responses
  • Dale
    July 24, 2012

    Hi Deborah,

    Good post, but Id like to add a little nuance to your point that “everyone is in sales.”

    I hear that a lot from sales people, but really they’re referring to the act of convincing someone to do something. This is certainly one aspect of sales, but if you try to use this point as a way to convince someone to take a sales job, it’s misleading at best.

    For example, trying to sell your kid on broccoli may be “sales,” but the parent doesn’t have a sales manager, a broccoli quota to meet this quarter, and is not dependent on the selling broccoli to her kid for income.

    Context matters.

    I also hear a lot about the best sales people who are honest, focus on relationships etc. that’s probably true.

    However, when we talk about sales as a profession, we should probably talk aboute the average sales job and talk about what your sales job will probably look like in reality. When discussing sales, you should also take into account that used car salesmen are also in sales and that ou may work for a company that is not too far removed from that type of culture.

    Jut some food for thought.


  • Deborah
    July 24, 2012

    Thanks for your accurate and interesting observations. Your point is well taken that the parent doesn’t have a sales manager or a broccoli quota (haha maybe they should – maybe there’d be fewer overweight kids!). I am equating sales with moving the needle… educating and persuading based on value. Still, context does matter.

    I live in Rochester NY and we have a car dealership here… VanBortel… they sell both new and used cars. The owner, Kitty Van Bortel subscribes to the sales as value equation so her dealership is not the typical or rather stereotypical car dealership. She makes a choice and the very best people decide to work for her… not because they don’t have sales goals, they do… but because they know they won’t get into trouble if they help a customer do the right thing and they all pull together.

    All companies get to decide what their culture will be and transparency isn’t easy for many. But it will become more so. if you check out this article on customer service from June 2012 Time on twitter-based customer service… I hope you will how this plays out.

    You are, for the most part, correct. Sales is a tough, not prestigious, hustle it up kind of a business for most. So I let my wishful thinking — integrity, service, education — get in the way of reality. But maybe one young person will think differently as a result of the post. And that would be a good thing. Thanks for your comments.

    What do you think?

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