Selling as A Career

Generally, there is much less personal pressure involved is being an order-taker than an order-maker and a prime attribute for an order taker is a pleasant, non-combative personality, However the opportunity for higher rewards belongs to order-makers as their remuneration normally rests on some kind of commission or bonus where payment is linked to the number of orders they make. It is an acknowledged fact that in many business situations the opportunity to earn really high income at a relatively young age is present in this kind of situation.

With so many types of selling situation and positions in sales, it is too much of a generalization to be specific about the qualities required for a successful sales career. There is no definitive test or selection procedure that can be used to distinguish between successful and less successful salespeople and apart from trying it out, there is no way of knowing if a person is suited to a career in sales. However, there are a number of key qualities that are generally recognized as being important:

  • Empathy and an interest in people, this skill is needed to accurately identify customer's real needs and problems in terms of thinking oneself into the other person's mind.
  • Ability to communicate, this means an ability to get a message across to a customer and, more importantly, an ability to listen and understand. The skill of knowing when to stop talking and when to listen is essential.
  • Determination, although the salesperson must be able to take NO for an answer, this should not come easily to someone who wants to succeed in selling it is a fact that customers might say no when they really mean maybe, which can ultimately lead to yes. A determined salesperson has a need and a will to succeed and success can mean closing a sale.
  • Self-discipline and resilience, most salespeople spend too much of their time unsupervised and apart from seeing customers, they are alone. As part of their job, they can expect setback, rejection, and failure. A salesperson thus needs to be both self-disciplined and resilient to cope with these facets of the sales task. 

Image of Selling

Mention the word "selling" will prompt a variety of responses. It will evoke a high proportion of negative, even hostile, responses, including immoral, dishonest, unsavory, degrading, and wasteful. Is such an unfavorable view justified? I suggest not. In fact, the underlying attitudes to selling derive from widely held misconceptions about selling, some of which are outlined below:

  • Selling is not a worthwhile career. This notion is held by many, the common attitude is that if one has talent then it will be wasted in sales. Unfortunately, this attitude is often held by those in a position to advise and influence young people in their choice of careers. In some cases, it is fashionable to denigrate careers in selling, and the consequence is that many of our brighter graduates are not attracted to a career in selling.
  • Good products will sell themselves and thus the selling process adds unnecessarily to costs. This view assumes that if you produce a superior product then there will always be buyers. But, often to produce a superior product, it is likely that additional cost will occur in terms of R&D which is always keeping ahead. The role of selling is not solely to sell, it can be used to feed-back information from customers to the firm - particularly product performance information.
  • There is something immoral about selling, and one should be suspicious about those who earn their living from it. Such attitudes can make life difficult for the salesperson, who has first to overcome the barriers which such mistrust erects in the customer-salesperson relationship.

There are a number of elements in the sales task that act as demotivators, such as:

  • Because of their perceived low status, salespersons are constantly exposed to the possibility of rejection and often have to suffer ego punishment, such as being kept waiting, appointments canceled at short notice and put-downs from customers to which they can't adequately respond, as buyers have the power in such circumstances. Thus, in B2B and B2C selling, in particular, a certain amount of psychological risk is involved.
  • In B2B situations, in particular, salesperson visit buyers in their offices, so they are effectively working in foreign territory and might sometimes feel uneasy when entering the premises. The customer might keep the salesperson waiting, thus heightening discomfort. 
  • • The salesperson tends to work alone, often staying away from home for periods. An attraction is an independence, but it can be a lonely existence. Thus there's a certain amount of psychological risk attached to such situations.

Selling is therefore not an easy task, and those who are concerned to improve its image must be more vociferous, yet objective, in presenting its case and they must recognize that misconceptions invariably have some basis in fact. At some times in our lives, we inevitably feel that we have purchased something we didn't really want or on terms we couldn't really afford, because we were subjected to high-pressure selling.

Selling is not entirely blameless, but salespeople are becoming more professional in their approach to customers. Some of the worst excesses in selling have been curbed: some legally, but increasingly voluntarily. To overcome some of these misconceptions, selling needs to sell itself and the following facts about selling should be more universally aired:

  • There is nothing immoral or unscrupulous about selling or about those involved in it. Selling provides a mechanism for exchange and through this process customer's needs and wants are satisfied. Furthermore, basically, every people at some stage are involved in selling, even if only selling their skills and personalities in an attempt to obtain a job.
  • Selling is a worthwhile career. Many of those who spent a lifetime in selling have found it to be challenging, responsible, and rewarding occupation. Inevitably a career in selling means meeting people and working with them, and a selling job often offers substantial discretion in being able to plan one's own work schedule.
  • Good products do not sell themselves. An excellent product may pass unnoticed unless its benefits and features are explained to customers. What appears to be a superior product may be totally unsuited to a particular customer. Selling is unique in that it deals with special needs of each individual. 

Why Sales Skills are the key to a firm's success? - The successful entrepreneur all have one thing in common - the ability to sell. 

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