5 Tips on How to Get Into Sales Regardless of Experience
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Sales is one of the few jobs where you can earn more than six figures without a college degree. Including commissions, the average salary for a senior sales manager can reach nearly $100,000 per year (or more), so it’s no surprise that many people want to get in on the action.
But what if you don’t have any experience in sales—or at least, not yet? How do you join this lucrative, exciting, and fast-paced industry? Below, we’ll give you a few tips on how to get into sales regardless of your experience.
Is It Easy To Get Into Sales?
Sales is all about communication and building rapport. So if you’re already an effective communicator, the basics of sales probably won’t be difficult to master.
Skills Needed To Get Into Sales
Like any other profession, you need to gain and hone some soft skills to get your sales career started. Most of these involve communication—for example, written and verbal skills, and active listening. Let’s look at these sales skills and how you can acquire them.
Written and Verbal Communication
Sales is all about communication. You should be able to properly communicate with your potential client, whether it’s an individual consumer or another business. While sales isn’t necessarily difficult, you do need to demonstrate strong written and verbal skills.
Potential clients should feel like they’re investing in a useful product or service. You need to understand their problems, and try to see which features of your product can solve their problems. Remember, prospective clients care about their problems, so you need to focus on providing them with proper solutions.
To improve your written skills, try writing mock letters to an imaginary prospect. To improve your verbal skills, try talking to a mirror. This can help give you the confidence of speaking about a product while maintaining eye contact.
Many people think that sales is just about pitching your product or service, but this isn’t really the case. One of the most important skills required for a career in sales is active listening.
To show that you’re actively listening, ask questions. For example, if you’re selling a pen, ask your prospective client something like, “What don’t you like about your current pen?” or “What features do you want your pen to have?” These sorts of questions often help start a conversation where customers can clearly explain what problems they’re having, or what they want to achieve.
Then, you use this information to personalize your pitch.
The more you listen to your prospective clients, the more confidence they’ll have in your product.
Ability To Become a Subject Matter Expert
Customers are more likely to buy your product if they’re confident that you can provide a solution to their problem. So before you try to sell anything, you need to learn everything you can about the product you’re pitching. Do your homework. If you don’t sound knowledgeable about what you’re selling, the client won’t trust you.
When you do thorough research about the product or service you’re selling, you’ll also gain confidence that you can pitch the product and answer your client’s questions. Customers will always have questions, and if you understand the product you’re selling, you’ll position yourself as an expert.
Public Speaking and Presentation Skills
If you want to work in sales, you’ll need to be adept at both public speaking and giving presentations. Often, you’ll be pitching to a group of people, rather than a single person. Demonstrating confidence is critical. Once you lose hold of your audience’s attention, they’ll likely lose interest in your product or service.
Try to create a presentation with relevant data—including visual graphics always helps—so that your prospective clients know you’ve done the proper homework beforehand.
To improve your public speaking skills, you can try pitching your product to your friends or family, and asking them for feedback. This can help boost your confidence, and it will ensure a smooth presentation when you meet with actual customers.
Time management is an important skill in any field, but more so in sales. When pitching to customers, you need to be punctual, and make your prospective clients feel as if you aren’t wasting their time.
Arriving even a few minutes late for a meeting could leave a bad impression. Be prompt, and your clients will appreciate your professionalism.
In some situations, you’ll need to follow up with your prospective client a few days after meeting them. Make sure that you’re punctual with this too. Customers will appreciate your reliability if you reach out to them when you promised to.
A simple way to improve your time management is by relying on your mobile phone and computer. You can schedule meetings and other events in your calendar apps and get reminders beforehand so that you can properly prepare.
Types of Entry-Level Sales Jobs To Look For
Ready to dive into a sales career? Let’s look at some sales roles that can get you started at an entry-level:
A position in retail is one of the easiest ways to start a career in sales. You can start off by working as a salesperson at a retail store or wholesale company. This is an excellent position for an entry-level salesperson because it allows you to practice the skills we mentioned above—but without the pressure to close clients, as you’ll most likely interact with low-ticket customers and small-scale businesses.
In this role, you’ll be responsible for helping potential customers find the products they need, and finalizing sales. These sales will typically be small, but this kind of role can give you valuable experience.
Sales Development Representative
Sales development representatives talk to leads and qualify them for the sales funnel. Companies use a sales funnel to locate the most winning prospects and track them through each stage of the customer journey. As a sales development representative, you would work as a middleman—talking to leads, checking if they should be moved further along, and passing relevant information to the sales representatives for the next phase.
This position is a good fit for an entry-level salesperson because you have to talk to potential prospects, ask questions, and understand their problems. This can improve your communication skills and help you learn how to talk with more confidence.
An account manager is a great position if you want to learn how to communicate efficiently and build customer relationships. An account manager is the point of contact for a customer. You help them during the sale, and respond to their queries. And once a customer signs on, the account manager is also responsible for pitching upsells—upgrades to a higher-priced product or service.
You’ve probably interacted with account managers before. With banks or other financial institutions, customers are introduced to an account manager who helps them manage their accounts and responds to their questions.
This position is a good fit for an entry-level salesperson because it helps you learn how to form good relationships with your prospects and nurture relationships with existing customers so that you can upsell your product or service.
An outreach specialist finds leads and establishes a conversation with them. This is the beginning of the sales funnel. After you contact these leads, you guide them through the initial phase of the sales funnel, making sure they’re interested in your product on a broader level.
Nowadays, this is mostly achieved through cold emailing or cold calls. You might face a lot of rejection at this stage because it’s the initial phase of the sales funnel, and not a lot of people are necessarily ready to buy your product or service.
This role is a good fit for an entry-level salesperson because you can gain sales experience by starting conversations with leads, introducing them to your company, and explaining how your organization can help them.
How To Get a Sales Job
Starting a career in sales might sound difficult, but here are some steps you can follow to help you land a sales job more easily:
- Build your foundational knowledge. To get better at sales, you need to practice the skills mentioned earlier. Make new connections on LinkedIn, where you can practice some of these skills.
- Find industries that interest you. It’s easier to be a subject matter expert if you’re in an industry you’re passionate about. This way, you’ll have background knowledge about the industry before you start pitching your product or service, which will help establish you as an expert.
- Look for tangential jobs. If you can’t yet land a full-time job in sales, try finding a position where you can practice the skills that you’ll need for a sales career. You can also search for part-time sales jobs, or other customer service jobs that involve public speaking. This way, you can showcase your transferable skills.
- Find a mentor. The fastest way to launch a career in sales is by finding a mentor. A mentor will teach you about sales techniques, and the common mistakes salespeople make. They’ll share their experiences with you so that you can understand and avoid mistakes and become a better salesperson. They may also help you find more networking opportunities.
- Consider a course. Enrolling in a sales class will help you learn the fundamentals. Be sure to do some research before enrolling to ensure that any courses you invest in are reputable. Check out Springboard’s online courses to level up your sales skills.
Getting Into Sales: Firsthand Experiences
The internet offers many examples of people who have become successful salespeople and want to share their experiences. Check out some of the numerous YouTube videos to learn more about how other people found their way in the field.
You can also look at Quora, where people discuss their experiences working in sales. People from different parts of the world have shared experiences that you can learn from.
On Reddit, people share varied experiences and opinions on sales, both good and bad, so that you can learn from them and decide the best path for you.
Here are some frequently asked questions about diving into the sales industry.
Can You Get a Sales Job Without Experience?
As discussed above, you can practice on your own and gain the kind of experience that can lead to job opportunities. You can also develop connections on LinkedIn and reach out to potential employers that need your skillset.
Do You Need a Degree To Get a Sales Job?
Sales is a skill that can be learned by anyone, and many people who don’t have a degree have excelled at sales. Many sales representatives make a lot of money regardless of degree.
How Long Does It Take To Get Good at Sales?
It depends. If you’re already working full-time and looking to pivot and learn about sales in your free time, you might need to move more gradually. But if you have more abundant time and are actively learning, searching job postings, and pursuing connections, then you can expedite the process.
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