How to find out if sales is the job for you

Mention sales and some will cringe.  Some love it while others have to put out a mask to sell.  Some are thick-skinned while some belief that talking incessantly will convince the customer.

Can you use personality as a gauge to determine if sales will be the right career for you? Probably.

It may just form part of the equation.  Your character is shaped by values.  If you are persistent, resilience and confident, perhaps business development is something you might consider.  On the other hand, there are salespeople who are quiet in nature but consistently outperform the rest.  They don’t fit into the role model of a successful salesperson.

But they are strategists. They know an appropriate time to listen, to chip in and to frame the communication to a close.

A team of salespeople can have different personality traits.  The underlying attribute commonly found is the perseverance to succeed.

What will then be other factors that you must consider?

Spin the wheel, make money

I would be crazy if I tell you commission is not a driving factor to make more sales.  I am not saying you must be money-driven 24/7 a day but its best advised to be numerically inclined – to understand how the organization’s commission scheme works.  Then find a way to make things happen. For example, selling the latest TV brand A lands you 1.5% commission while brand B gives you 1.0% commission. A caveat here – don’t treat your prospect as a walking digit.  It’s always the basic of understanding your customer’s needs that matter most.

Prepare to ride on a roller coaster

I am not kidding. The key challenge of a sales job is to consistently meet your personal expectation.  There can be days that you make a breakthrough, there can be months that have zero sales.  And there can be procurement guidelines that delay the sales cycle.  There can be decision makers who drag the process. Be positive always. Beneath the abyss, there will be light. What comes down goes up again.  This mantra works if you have a regular habit of developing opportunities, from start to end.  So, your roller coaster ride will not be bumpy.  But you must be mentally prepared to face it.

water park amusement park fun
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An ability to charm

Looks do matter or doesn’t?  The irony is that it does influence.  You can’t change how you look but you can change how you groom, how you dress.  This is the first level.  Second level will be your salesmanship – and that depends how you smile, how you greet and how you warm up the prospect with small talks that make sense (and not just the weather).  Not cheesy, not trying too hard yet adopts your personal style of professionalism; consider oozing a class of mystery which the prospect will like to find out more.  If you want the client to remember, an effort is needed to stay polished.

Sensitivity test

Most salespeople know their products and services well.  What they don’t realize is that they need to be sensitive to the client’s office, the surroundings, the subject domain, the designation of the people you are meeting and the words used that are important to them.  For example, if you happen to see that the prospect places a large portrait of a key figure at his desk, you may just casually ask why this is important. If the client repeats the words three times, you can pick this up and ask why he is phrasing it frequently.  If you know who the Decision Maker is, you can know when to direct your eye contact at specific moments.

These are useful on-the-ground intelligence that can translate to buying signals.  An added benefit is to be commercially aware of the trends – get your radar up to newspapers and articles commenting about the industry. Then, narrate them during the discussion. If you are one who doesn’t care a hoot, maybe professional selling is not your cup of tea.

Take criticism

Particularly in sales where it’s client-facing, you may wind up getting fierce straight-up-to-your face critics who just has a negative perception of your brand.  Learn how to handle unwanted comments in different situations. Be up for it.  You can either maintain your posture or be assertive to constructively challenge the client’s way of thinking – that of course takes some level of skill and experiences.  The trick here is to make sure you understand the client’s personality and why he has reacted to you in a pessimistic tone.

So, there you have – 5 quick ways to assess whether you should embark on a fulfilling journey of business development, if you have the aptitude to get far.  Selling is dynamic, no one-sized fits all.  As long as you have an open mind, willing to learn and have the right personality, things should fit well into the world of client development.

Happy selling!

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