Why go into sales in the first place?
When thinking of sales, people often correlate the profession with telemarketers or car salesmen who are pushy and trick you into buying something that adds no real value to your daily routine. Due to this stigmatised perception, companies struggle to fill their sales positions – in fact, a high percentage of companies report that, while sales remains the most in demand role after engineering, candidate application rates are amongst the lowest.
Counter to what many people think, sales is a highly strategic and crucial function in any fast growing company. It focuses on the identification of opportunities that drive growth for a company and lies at the intersection of product development, marketing, and finance. For graduates trying to figure out what role to apply for, sales can be an excellent start to their career and can give them an advanced understanding of how other business departments operate.
Similarly, when a company is just starting off, finding customers to validate product-market fit is crucial for creating long-term value. Without the required traction, early stage companies will sooner or later cease to exist. Getting early adopters on board to validate the need for a product helps confirm (or dispel) whether the business has a solid base on which to build a future. As a company grows, sales becomes much more repeatable and is about identifying, qualifying, and pursuing strategic growth opportunities that lead the company towards self-sufficiency or an exit.
Selling however is not just about gaining customers and proving product-market fit. Highly influential individuals within the political, business and creative landscape, such as Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson, are also exceptional salespeople who know how to convince and bring others onboard with their vision and mission.
Particularly, if you are thinking of starting your own business, sales will equip you with some of the most important skills you’ll need to succeed, including:
Attention to detail