Think that making a living in sales means easy money? Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sales is either the "easiest low-paying job you ever have, or the hardest high-paying job you ever have". Here are ten reasons why we think sales is one of the most difficult jobs around:
1) Uncertainty - Many sales jobs offer a base salary to provide some level of stability for reps, but nearly all of these jobs also come with a level of uncertainty that the general population would be uncomfortable with. You will "eat what you kill," and your pay will fluctuate month-to-month based on your success or failure.
2) People's perceptions - One of the most striking things about working in sales is how negative much of the public's perceptions of sales reps are. Telling people what you do for a living can elicit less than pleasant responses as people assume that you're a pushy, fast-talker, when in reality sales reps are your average, hard-working employee.
3) Lack of control - In theory, sales reps control how much money they make. However, that's usually where the control ends. Sales reps typically don't control marketing, pricing, product delivery, and a myriad of other aspect of the sales cycle, which can create problems for customers that sales reps have to deal with.
4) Pressure - The pressure of working in sales is immense, and can be unbearable for most people. Not only do you have the pressure of hitting your goal in order to get paid, there's pressure from management who have their own expectations, pressure from customers who want the best deals, and pressure from competitors inside and outside of the workplace, who want to close your deals before you can.
5) It can be thankless - Sales reps are responsible for keeping companies running, and employees paid, since they are at the front lines of nearly every industry. But sales can be a thankless job as sales reps bring in new business while handling the majority of customer problems, all with a smile on their face. Reps are usually well compensated, but shouldn't expect a "thank you" most of the time.
6) Long hours - If you're looking for a nine-to-five job, sales probably isn't for you. The long hours can stretch from early morning until late at night as sales reps must always make themselves available to clients. Whether it's dinner meetings, or answering late night emails, a sales rep needs to be willing to commit to their job and put in the hours to become a success.
7) Always being "on" - Everyone has bad days, but sales is one of the few professions where being in a bad mood, or dealing with personal problems has a direct effect on your paycheck. Sales reps must constantly preset themselves in a positive and professional way, and need to leave their problems at the door when dealing with customers.
8) Frequent changes - While prospecting, making presentations, following-up, and closing deals can be repetitive, sales reps must constantly deal with change as companies optimize processes, release new products, and, unfortunately, frequently change comp plans. A sales rep who is complacent is not long for the sales world.
9) Competition - In sales your competition is everywhere, even in your own office. Your company's competitors are constantly trying to close your customers before you can, oftentimes by undercutting you on price. And your fellow sales reps want to make sure that their name is on the board above yours, all the while being encouraged to compete by management.
10) Starting over - In sales, the phrase "Hero to zero" is used at the end of every sales cycle, whether it's weekly, monthly, or quarterly. It's difficult to accept the idea of going from being a top closer to starting at the bottom with everyone else again, and unless you're consistent, you can't ever call yourself the best. Sales management always loves to ask "What have you done for me lately?"
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.