You're thinking about a job in sales.
You've seen how much money can be made in the profession and are intrigued by the prospect of uncapped commissions and repeat business.
But there's much more to sales than meets the eye. That's why many born salesmen don't last, and others who you'd never expect, rise to the top of the leaderboard.
Before you take the leap into a sales job, here are ten things you should know:
1) Sell a product you believe in - If you decide to commit yourself to sales, it's wise to choose to sell a product or work for a company that you believe in. If you're passionate about the mission of your company, your enthusiasm, conviction, and belief will come through to the customer, and he or she will be much more likely to do business with you.
2) Get used to rejection - The average person will experience some level of rejection in his or her lifetime, be it personal or professional. But salespeople experience rejection daily, and that can be too much for some people to get used to. The people who thrive in sales recognize rejection as simply a part of the process, and the ones who don't, shouldn't make it a profession.
3) Be prepared for long, unpredictable hours - If you're used to coming into the office at nine and hitting the road at five, a sales job can come with a bit of culture shock. Salespeople often work later than most of their co-workers, and are frequently dealing with unexpected meetings and appointments, since they must be amenable to their client's demands.
4) Your effort determines your pay - Sales is one of the few careers where your work output directly determines your pay. Salespeople can earn literally millions of dollars, but they can also make less than minimum wage. People say that sales will either be the easiest low-paying job you ever have, or the hardest high-paying job you'll ever have.
5) The highs and lows are extreme - Sales can make you feel like you're on top of the world, or at rock bottom. The exhilaration from closing a huge deal is a high unlike any other, and the anxiety and self-doubt that comes with being in a serious slump can drain all your confidence. They key is to stay on an even keel, not letting yourself fluctuate between these extremes.
6) Not all sales jobs are created equal - Inside sales is significantly different from outside sales, since your time is spent on the phone, not out on the road meeting with clients. A commission-only position will be structured much differently than a base-plus-commission job. There are always thousands of open sales jobs and the daily activities, compensation plans, culture, and demands vary greatly between them.
7) The company can't succeed without you - There's an old expression: "Nothing happens until somebody sells something." Salespeople are the front line for a company, and no one in the organization can get paid until a salesperson does his or her job and brings in new business. This means that your co-workers rely on your efforts in almost the same way that your family does.
8) It is a competition - The reason why so many former athletes go into sales is because it plays to their competitive nature. In sales, you're competing against your coworkers, against your industry competitors, and against your previous performance numbers. Some call it a sprint, others call it a marathon, but it's most definitely a race.
9) People will judge you - It's an unpleasant reality that some people have a negative perception of salespeople. Unfortunately, when you discuss your new profession with some, you may hear comments that can range from obnoxious to insulting. Don't let it bother you. Instead, use it as an opportunity to change one person's mind about salespeople.
10) The profession is constantly changing - Technology is changing the world, and sales is no exception. Where salespeople once reached customers door-to-door or by phone, Facebook and LinkedIn are now the preferred methods for many. Analytics and tracking, advanced communiction technology, and complex applications are revolutionizing the sales process, and empowering sales reps like never before. The ones who can take advantage of new technology will have an advantage over their peers.
Leo is the CEO and co-founder of AppMesh, the makers of SalesMesh. Prior to joining AppMesh, he worked for Salesforce. His favorite TV sales scene was the Kodak pitch in Mad Men season 1, episode 13.
SalesMesh is the personal CRM/sales app that works the way you sell. Automatically track customer interactions, notes, schedule follow-ups, collaborate with your network, sync to and from Salesforce all from your iPhone and iPad -- even when you're offline. Learn more here.