After several years of study and tens of thousands in hard earned after-tax investment, scholarships, student loans, the time has come. Parents are starry-eyed and proud. Their mission is complete. You announce you’re pursuing a career in sales. How do they react? Short of “You’re dead to us,” would they be impressed?
Over the past several years society, and well meaning parents, have placed an ever increasing emphasis on the attainment of University or College accreditation as a must have life platform for career, prosperity and success. The reality is that more and more grads are returning to take refuge in the family home while they continue to work one or more part-time, low wage hourly paid jobs.
There are a number of different views out there. Some say grads are coming to market with an attitude of entitlement and need to amp up the outbound job search effort. At the other end of the opinion are those that know just how hard many of the grads have worked to find opportunities in a field of work related to their study.
Governments at both the Federal and Provincial levels are considering skewing financial incentives for secondary education toward vocations that are in high demand and more directly related to economic growth within the country.
In Germany, high school students are challenged to consider a trade over a degree program supported by an effectively executed apprenticeship program throughout the country.
In speaking with a well-known recruiter last evening, his take on the situation is that the opportunities are out there but that employers no longer advertise for new talent. In his experience not only do they not advertise, but that corporate internal HR systems fail at the process of aligning applicants with corporate requirements for talent. So your unsolicited resumes fail to connect with internal opportunities due to human and technological limitations within these organizations.
Landing that career launching position will be the first of an unending set of sales challenges any successful professional will encounter throughout his career. The finance professional who must sell her M&A strategy to the board, the marketing executive who is faced with selling his plans for market expansion in to South America, the dentist who wants to sell her partners on investing in new equipment are all examples of the reality of how business gets done.
When we think of sales, we don’t think of it in that context. Our perspective on sales is based on our personal experience combined with the beliefs, opinions and experience of others that has been already programmed into our own thinking.
There needs to be a clear distinction between the classic consumer, retail, transactional selling role that so often gives the career a bad name and the professional business to business sales career that involves high levels of business analytics, communication and interpersonal – leadership dynamics.
In the B2B selling environment, it’s all about generating improvements in the business productivity of organizations within your employer’s addressable market.
How might your study and interest in business, marketing, finance or other appropriate fields be relevant to connecting with organizations who may be frustrated or struggling with some aspect of their business for which you and your employer have a potential solution?
The role of B2B sales professional is one of consultant – advisor to your customers. Professional success depends on a combination of human relations skills and analytical ability. The analytical aspect is required in order to identify relevant gaps in business performance, analyze the impact of those gaps on the customer’s business and generate the related business case for investment.
Now that we’ve defined sales in the context of the business to business advisory role versus the more transactional, commodity selling - order taking in the retail environment, here are five reasons to consider a career in sales:
In sales, compensation and advancement is directly related to performance.
Most companies depend on organic, sales driven growth as an important business strategy. The sales operation is in the center of that strategy.
Gateway to Leadership
The sales role serves as the point of interface between the market place and the company. In that role the salesperson develops a hands-on appreciation for the customers’ experience with the company’s products, services and solutions. This insight is valuable in career progression within the company.
Expertise – Personal Growth
The level of exposure the B2B sales person enjoys across a cross section of business organizations provides the basis for continuous learning and personal growth. The value of the sales person’s domain expertise becomes an important differentiator for the individual.
Economic prosperity and job creation is related directly to business growth. The contribution of the sales professional is central to the creation of business and economic growth.
As a B2B sales professional you are helping them solve business challenges and in so doing are making a contribution to the personal career goals of your customers by helping them to meet and exceed performance expectations within their organizations.
A career in sales is likely as close as one might come to being in business for himself without going into business. Top salespeople view their employer as a client (their only client) for whom they deliver value (sales) in return for an agreed compensation.
Only you can decide if a career in professional business to business sales aligns with your personal interests and motivations.
Are you a recent grad and maybe looking for some objective guidance or input about a career in sales? Maybe we can help BRIDGE the gap between your field of study and the launch of your career.