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Why work in sales?

I honestly think everyone should work a commission only sales job at least once in their life. Not for just a few weeks, but for a year or so. The benefits are enormous. (By the way, I also consider almost all self employed jobs and paid-by-the-job kind of jobs “sales”, because whether a dentist or an attorney calls himself a sales professional, if he/she doesn’t sell their services, they won’t last).

I’ll try to outline the benefits in this post.

Why would I recommend everyone get a job in sales, when there is so much rejection, struggle, and hard work required to experience success? Why not pick some relaxed job at a corporation where you don’t have to work hard all day?

I can think of many different reasons why I’ve chosen my career in sales. But the following are a few of my primary reasons. They are the ones that keep me here, even during the times when I’m cursing my career choice. These are the ones that keep me coming back. And if you are considering a career in sales, these are  the top reasons you should consider.

1. It prepares you for business ownership. If your ultimate goal is to own your own business at some point, and leave the E or S quandrant for the I or B quandrant, there is almost no better training than sales. You will have to sell employees on why they should work for your company that doesn’ t quite exist yet. (I’ll never forget the looks on applicant’s faces, when I interviewed them for a position in our cafe–which was under construction. We sat amidst the rubble and sawdust of construction–very few could see past that) You may have to sell investors on why they should invest into your concept. You will probably have to sell your spouse or loved one on why you should push through those trying times during those tough beginning years. Sales–except for maybe accounting–is the best training if you want to be a business owner.

2. The opportunity to help other people. I’m putting this ahead of the income potential, because if you put this first, the income will follow. It is said that people want a “consultant”, not a “salesman”, so many sales organizations refer to their representatives as such. It’s also said, “people love to buy, but they HATE to be SOLD.” If you are a real estate agent (or any other sales pro) who is only concerned about commissions, you won’t help your customers get into the best deal possible–in fact, you may just push them into the most expensive deal possible, so you will receive a higher commission. Furthermore, your customers, despite what you may think, are smart enough to pick up on the fact that you are out to serve yourself, will feel SOLD, and won’t  recommend you to others. But if you truly focus on getting the best deal for your customer, word will get out, and you’ll have a line of customers waiting to work with you. And to draw upon a spiritual principle, almost every major religion teaches that by putting others first, you become a better person. If you have an opportunity in your profession to be 100% committed to helping others, you will improve as a person.

3. Income. Yes, the income can certainly be great. I have yet to find a salaried position with the kind of income potential sales can provide. There are countless sales sloors and organizations where the top performers make several hundred thousand dollars per year. What salaried job can even compete with that? Maybe if you stay with a major corporation for years and years. But the highest paid people I know, are either lifers at a major corporation and are living on 200K+ salaries in mid-level management positions, are Doctors/Attorneys/Dentists who had to build up their practice for years and years AFTER spending nearly a decade in school, are business owners who have made it through the gauntlet of their first few shaky years, or they are top performing sales professionals. I have seen sales professionals crack a hundred grand their FIRST YEAR of sales. And I’ve seen that a lot. It is one of the only professions out there where you can make that kind of money, with or without experience, and with or without an education. You have to be able to stick with it though, and be teachable, coachable, and motivated. Don’t expect to have it handed to you either, you have to get after it all the time. But if I’m going to put in my time working for someone else, I’d like to be able to at least have the POTENTIAL to make that kind of money. At least even have it as a possibility, and then I know what to aim for. Now, with all of that being said, not all commission plans are created equal. You can work as hard as you want, but you may never make six figures selling small ticket items–yet you will work harder, and deal with the same amount of rejection as someone who does make six figures.

4. Personal Development. This reason isn’t as glamorous as reason #4, but is far more important. The sales industry reminds me a lot of what my High School Wrestling coach told me after I’d been on the team for a month or so. “You stick this out, and you’ll be tougher than nails.” That’s really how a sales job goes. There’s something about starting at zero and working through a deal over and over and over that thickens your skin and tempers your perseverance. You become unstoppable. You increase in knowledge, people skills, general knowledge, etc, but the other intangibles are far more valuable. Just the confidence you have in yourself that you can get the job done is priceless.  I remember when I had a posh salaried position with a major corporation. I felt fat and out of shape–psychologically. I didn’t have to HUNT anymore for my income. It just came to me, week in, week out.  I finally quit after I realized what had happened to my work ethic. Was the money good? Sure, but not worth losing my edge in the process. Sales gives you your edge, and helps you maintain it. Survive and thrive in a commission-only sales job, and you’ll be an unstoppable force–able to do anything from this point forward. The primary ways I’ve transformed that have helped with other areas of life are things like persistence, goal setting, communication, reading people, understanding what motivates people and other things about human psychology, and just tempered steel-like self confidence.

5. The Thrill. Honestly, I’m addicted to the rush that goes with sales. There is nothing like running a big deal through. It’s addictive. I know a lot of guys in sales get addicted to drugs because they feel like they need them to sustain the enthusiasm and emotional “up” feeling they need to have all day. I never have messed with that crap. You don’t need to either. Get addicted to success and you’ll be fine, no matter how addictive your personality is. If you have to have some external help, you’re weaker than the guy that just needs himself and a telephone. Get addicted to the rush of success, and you’ll keep coming back over and over.

These some of the top reasons that keep me in sales, and are reasons I think everyone should try a commission only sales job at least once in their life.

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