Most of us at some point consider selling something. That first part-time job in retail to get the employee discounts, door to door during college (Cutco anyone?), and finally whenever we are tossed out into the employment pond and need something (hello auto, insurance, and real estate industry). For me it was all three, and I am still selling myself today.
Why does going into sales have such a stigma? If you are scanning through job ads, are you skipping over the selling opportunities? Waiting to exhaust applying to every office, government, and manufacturing job, and then sending out applications to some sales job ad while you wait for your dream opportunity?
Depending on how you can answer this next question you should either skip "trying" sales, or put it to the top of your list and forget any other career.
Are you a commodity or a human?
I know the knee-jerk answer by everyone is to say they are a human, who wants to think of themselves as a commodity? The honest answer is that many job seekers intend to be a commodity. A commodity is an interchangeable product or service and its value is usually set based on supply and demand. This is most commonly used to describe things bought and sold in quantity that do not have individualistic merit.
How does this relate to people scanning job boards and thinking, "I might just have to try sales"? Many people that are dipping their toe into sales have the thought that if they simply follow the process manual that the company is going to sell things and they will get paid. Circuit City tried this, hire the least expensive help, give them red shirts and a manual, and the public will just buy our stuff. It was one of the most epic fails in modern sales history, Circuit City went from the leader in electronics sales to out of business in under three years. They hired commodities.
I thought this way when I first started in sales. My manager tells me to walk and talk this way, all I need to do is follow the direction and it will all work out. I was almost fired in my first 90 days selling. I was confused and depressed, I am saying what they want me to say, following the steps I was told to take, why isn't this working? As a last ditch effort I accidentally became a human.
What I am calling being a human is deciding to simply interact with people as your natural instincts dictate, to be an individual. Within the borders of professionally presenting your product, show compassion, understanding, and yes even love for the people you are lucky enough to get to meet on a daily basis.
I saw a great example of this only yesterday in Starbucks (stereotypical sales, I am a coffee addict). In Starbucks the salespeople are called Barristas, and they have a pretty well formatted process. Most days I walk into the shop and can fairly predict just about every interaction in the store, it is simple people walk in wanting coffee, Barrista asks them to buy more expensive coffee and pastry. Today was slightly different, in front of me an older woman was walking into the shop and next to her an employee was emptying the trash. She stopped, turned to the woman, and told her she looked fantastic and asked where she had bought the dress she was wearing. Not in a I get paid to say nice things way, but in a true human to human contact. She then walked the woman to the counter and helped her decide what to order, like they were best friends picking out some new and exciting thing to try together. This salesperson is not a commodity!
If you have the self-esteem to be a true person to people you have never met, to let them see the caring side of you even though you might be rejected, you are a human and should run to the nearest sales opportunity. The world needs you!
Greg Gershman - Managing Partner @RecruitmentHQ
If you need help deciding if sales is right for you, or advice on hiring your next forever employee inbox me. Have a prosperous day :-