Choosing a career in sales can be a grueling choice. You have management squeezing from one side – constantly asking for more and more. You have your prospects on the other – too busy to meet, not interested, not returning your calls, or satisfied with the competition.
Even the best sales professionals hear the word no far more frequently than they hear yes. That alone will put a ding in anyone’s psyche after enough time.
Add on top of this the financial insecurity of a commission-only position. You do not get paid for simply showing up at work. You have to perform, you have to win, or you get nothing – except some expensive lessons – the cost of which is your time and energy. Throw in a few other factors as well: the competition may have a better/less expensive/higher-performing/more recognizable product. So why would anyone choose to submit themselves to this? On a side note, here are a few others thoughts on the reality of a sales career here on Quora
Why did I choose a career in sales?
For me, it was about the drive to succeed and the freedom selling allows you (ironic, I know). The idea of showing up to an office to punch a clock never sat well with me. I needed more of a challenge. Yes, there was risk involved in a sales career, but if I performed well, I would be compensated accordingly, and I would have the ability to do with my day what I best saw fit.
Professional selling is tricky in that you constantly have to prove your worth. A doctor has their medical license, and a lawyer has their Juris doctorate. But with sales, you can’t prove in an instant that you excel – there’s no diploma to put up on the wall that shows you are qualified for the role. You need to prove that every day.
I also truly enjoyed the relationship aspect of selling. I became friends with the clients whose trust I earned and genuinely enjoyed the time I would spend with them. You learn quickly enough in sales that people do not like to be sold, but they love to buy. There is an imperceptible difference between those two concepts, and it takes sales professionals years to realize that. If you’re going to have a good relationship with a customer, it certainly won’t be because you’re an aggressive salesperson that pushed them into buying.
However, if you help that prospect see why they need your service or product, highlight the value you bring to them, and continue to be there when they need you, they will likely end up buying what you are selling. Not because you ‘sold’ it to them, but because you helped that person realize a solution to a problem – and that is something anyone wants to buy.
A desire to compete, autonomy, accountability pushed me into business-to-business sales. Plus the constant lore of how hard it was to get into the industry and stay there. Every day is a battle. Ride the highs and work your way through the lows. Analyze your mistakes, adjust your methods, and keep coming back for more, just like life.