Starting Out: Some Pointers For A Successful Career In Sales – Useful Advice In A World Where Everyone Is Always Selling


A few days ago my fifteen year old son responded to a question about his future career plans with, ‘I want to be a salesman’. That led to a few sniggers in the room as some wondered whether his aspirations were limited to selling second hand cars. I, on the other hand, was imagining him ruling over Wall Street selling financial products and earning 8 figures. A career in sales can be diverse. Most products and services require sales effort, few sell themselves.

If you are starting out on your career path and decide sales is where your future lies then the questions are, where do you start? And secondly, does it even matter?

Does it matter if you start your sales career selling second hand cars or structured financial products?

The answer to that question is a little complex. If you are working towards a career with maximum earning potential then it does matter where you start in most cases. But, and this is a big but, it all depends on the type of person you are. If you are highly ambitious, an avid learner and massively driven then where you start is unimportant. You will find a way to get to the top. If on the other hand you are looking for a short trip to the top where you start is essential.

Find your next sales job here

What is important to understand is that the art of selling transcends all industries. Learning the art of selling must be any trainee sales person’s main objective. You can learn this by selling cars in a car lot, stocks in a boiler room or legal software for a Silicon Valley startup. I am not talking about order taking or appointment making, although the latter is a good grounding for a successful career in sales. I am talking about closing. Learning the ability to close sales and objection handling.

There are many books, audio books and YouTube videos you can study to improve your technique including on the job training. The key to success however is implementing what you learn. An obvious statement which most ignore and as a result never progress beyond mediocre status.

There are very few ‘easy sales’ these days. People are far less tolerant of a salesperson calling than they were a few years ago. Most don’t even allow the salesperson to get beyond his or her brief introduction before hanging up. But whilst easy sales are as rare as a genuine get rich quick scheme they are out there. If you continue your search whilst honing your skills along the way you will be ready to take maximum advantage when that lucrative easy sale shows itself.

The key lessons I wish to impart are; Get started. Don’t worry about what your first job is. Just get both feet on the first rung of the ladder.

Secondly, aim to be the best. Work on improving your skill outside of your day job. Do something every day, even for 10 minutes. The cumulative knowledge you build up from 10 minutes a day will set you apart from the average person who goes to work and saves for the weekend or for a new car or holiday. You must focus on investing in yourself. Find out how many deals a week/month the best salesperson in your firm is closing and make your objective to pass him or her within twelve months.

Thirdly, never rest on your laurels. Never do the bare minimum and always focus on building your pipeline. In a world where closing deals is becoming significantly harder you must make more calls to compensate. It is all about volume and work rate. The higher your work rate the higher the number of deals you close. If you are one of those sales guys who makes a call and then shuffles paper, checks their cell phone and email before reluctantly dialing again then don’t expect to make more than minimum wage.

Lastly, be obsessive. Always be looking to improve, find new challenges and push the envelope. Obsession and paranoia may appear on a therapist’s list of red flags but they are key qualities in every successful sales person.

Banner Image: Used car salesman. Image Credit – Antoni Shkraba


Harry Maximillian

Harry is an author, coach, entrepreneur, comedian and a convicted felon. Harry was sent to prison for a financial crime where he spent five long years. Prison allowed Harry to realize the error of his ways. He decided to use his time productively and mobilize his extraordinary determination, dedication, drive, motivation and desire to focus on writing and the art of self-improvement. Before Harry’s enforced vacation he was one of the most prolific deal makers in the City of London.

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