In part one of this article, we debunked two major myths about sales. But there are more misconceptions to uncover, so let’s get started.
Sales Isn’t Ruthless
Some outsiders think sales is all about crushing the competition. That’s a pretty dangerous mindset because, technically, everyone in sales could be your competitor: your fellow reps, rival companies, even the people within your prospects’ companies who have different priorities for that portion of the budget.
Fortunately, the reality is much less frightening.
First, sales reps typically work together—not apart. After all, even though every member has an individual quota, the team has a shared quota as well. If a couple of people are struggling to hit their goals, no one is celebrating—they’re trying to help them.
In addition, there’s definitely less focus on competitor products than you’d assume. Most prospects really dislike when you sling mud, so salespeople try to keep the conversation on their own product when possible. If another name comes up, the rep will say something honest and positive, such as, “Pepsi? Yes, they’re also quite popular in the carbonated soft drink industry. Their soda has a citrusy flavor, whereas Coke has notes of vanilla.”
There’s a Ton of Upward Mobility
Maybe you’re hesitant about going into sales because you’re not sure what you want to be doing in 5, 10, or 20 years. Being in sales interests you in the short-term, but in the long-term? Not so much.
Here’s the thing: contrary to popular belief, sales is not a “sticky” job. You can do almost anything with a solid sales background, from starting your own business to becoming a consultant. There’s also a lot of potential within the sales profession itself. Current VPs of sales, marketing, and business development usually have histories as salespeople.
Sales teaches you to be self-motivated, resilient, ambitious, resourceful, creative, and persistent. You also learn how to read others—the subtle signals they’re giving off, which communication styles they prefer, what their motivations are, and whether they’re holding anything back. Finally, it turns you into a world-class communicator. Most employers and bosses would love to get their hands on a candidate with those skills.
You Can Learn Sales
The majority of jobs require an intense period of training and education, followed by smaller, gradual insights and improvements over time. Yet even though this is the norm, many think you’re either good at sales, or you’re not.
Luckily, the same rules apply to sales as most other professions. You can definitely come in with a natural aptitude for selling—same as you’d have a natural aptitude for math or teaching—but the differentiating factor is how much you practice.
Salespeople who shadow the top sellers on their team, relentlessly practice their pitching strategy, and review their calls for areas of improvement will almost always do better than salespeople who are “suited” to the job but don’t try to improve.