Workin’ 9 to 5 (…and some career advice from Sales pros)

“Make a customer, not a sale.”
~ Katherine Barchetti

I’m back this week continuing my series highlighting specific professions. Last week, I shared conversations with Marketing professionals who represented a wide variety of industries, from companies of all sizes.

This week, I’m focusing on a career path that often is highly stereotyped, and so because of that I decided to feature five participants who all work in the same industry – technology – but bring very unique personalities, success stories, and other aspects of their lives into who they are.

As a recruiter, I’ve collaborated with Sales in a variety of ways. I’ve hired them, I’ve coached them, I’ve worked with them on recruitments for their teams, and I’ve even partnered with them during my early recruiting days when I moved from an HR career into my first technical recruiting job.

Once again, I sent out five questions to longtime sales professionals whose advice is great for both those at the beginning of their careers, as well as those who are considering a career transition to this profession.

The contributors to this week’s post :

Below is what they had to share with me about their work in the Sales field, what they’ve learned, and tips for those looking into a career in this profession. Enjoy!!!

1. What helped you the most in getting (and succeeding in) your current job?

My Network

“My network got me my current job.  I was recruited by an ex-colleague.  In fact, the last two positions I have held have been through people I worked with in the past.”

“My father gave me my first job in IT as a Receptionist at his IT Staffing company.  I wouldn’t have hired me – I was a loose cannon! I owe my father a great deal and thank him all the time.”

“I had a dynamite recruiting introduction from a fantastic lady named Aimee Levens!”

My Background

“The VP of Sales liked that I had a logistics background – he felt some of the best salespeople in the e-commerce space had come from that space. Having a software tools background, I was able to engage the VP of Engineering about their applications – the development languages, lifecycle and methodologies used and evolution of the system.”

“My skillset, history of success, and personal brand.”

My Personality & Work Ethic

“What sealed the deal for this position was relating to the hiring team. I felt relaxed and in my element with the hiring committee – the vibe and the office environment were a good match with my personality and I think that came through in the interviews.”

“Being genuine, open and honest.”

“Succeeding usually results from hard work and working efficiently.  Recognizing, understanding, and acting upon opportunities in the marketplace.”

“While I still am (a loose cannon) to a certain degree, my staunch individualism and spirit has kept my clarity and integrity strong even with the prime directive of generating revenue. Revenue generation, when taken without honor and care, can be destructive, but with heart, compassion and a genuine need to help others succeed, is part of a cycle that helps people in turn help business in turn help more people.”

2. What is one of the most common misconceptions about working in Sales?

That We’re Only In It For The Money

“That greed rules all.”

“Some think that we don’t care about our reputations.”

“They think that we are in it for ourselves and will sell at our clients/customers expense.”

That We Don’t Care About Customers

“A great many successful salespeople have had careers that span decades have flourished because they truly care about their clients success – the proverbial “Win – Win”, excellence, integrity, respect for the individual, and not just their own commission.”

“Most view sales as a role where you are always trying to talk or convince someone into doing or buying something they might not necessary want.  The reality is that selling is really communicating a message to an appropriate audience.”

That It Doesn’t Require Real Skills

“Some think that there’s a finish line – i.e., that you can know it all.”

“I do not think most people realize how much planning, research, and time management sales people have to do to be successful.”

“People don’t always understand that it’s a craft.”

3. What advice would you offer those wanting to get into this line of work?

Focus on Your Customers

“Approach sales from a place of service. It’s a small world – your reputation counts like crazy. Always put the client first. If your product or service isn’t a good fit – say so and refer them. Even to your competition. Your stock will rise exponentially.”

“Be honest with yourself and your clients about what you do, along with what your product does and the value it brings.”

“Take the long view.”

Do What Excites You

“Always represent a company, product or service you believe in and can stand behind.”

“Find an industry or a company that you feel passionate about (or that you can come to care about).”

“Love it or don’t do it!! Whatever you do it should make you want to get up in the morning and GO DO IT with JOY and FUN and PASSION!”

Understand What’s Needed to be Successful

“You will need a high tolerance for pressure/stress.”

“Choose an industry that is growing and vibrant.”

“Take initiative.”

4. How has the work changed since you entered the Sales profession?

The Technology Difference

“The competition is now a click away.”

“The internet has opened the door to global competition.”

“The pace of work has changed with the Internet, social media, increased competition and industry consolidation.”

Relationships Still Matter

“Know-how and service make the difference.”

“Relationships still matter enough of the time and they certainly drive my passion, and that at the core, has not changed and has continued to provide me with business and tremendous satisfaction and passion to help improve the lives of the people I work with.”

Product Perception Has Evolved

“Consumers are more educated than ever.”

“Sales has shifted focus from commodities and capabilities to value. What problem do you solve and how does that benefit your client?”

“Many products, even software are now commodities.”

5. Why do you do what you do for a living? Any other dreams out there you still want to pursue?

“I have 2 kids in college! There’s a world to see and photograph. I’m trying to do a little bit of good and leave the ship a better place than when I showed up.”

“I love solving problems and working with people. The income also is disproportionate to education, experience etc. You get paid what you are worth. There are always dreams to pursue – work enables me to do so.”

“To help people while at the same time it provides a lifestyle that allows me to live an incredible, passionate, FUN life! TONS!! And I am pursuing them!!!”

“Obviously income is a big factor but I do enjoy good work/life balance.  I do really enjoy discovering and learning about companies (prospects and clients) in this market and about what they do, how they impact the local economy and the people that they employ.  I like building relationships and working with people I like & respect.  In this field, there are always opportunities to be discovered and hopefully captured. There are many things I still want to pursue – some are personal that have nothing to do with work, others are entrepreneurial and community service activities.”

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