When thinking about a career in sales, it's not uncommon for young people to picture a used car salesman or a huckster selling home appliances door to door. But a career in sales is much different today than those clichés we're used to seeing on TV or in the movies.
The sales profession has evolved over the years, and it's now an incredibly exciting time to get into the field. If you're a millennial who's in search of a rewarding, meaningful career, here are a few reasons to be "sold" on sales:
Sales isn't only about selling.
In the past, a salesperson was likely focused on only selling commodities, whereas today, he or she assumes more of a consultant role. This is especially the case in the tech industry, where a salesperson's job is to listen to and understand their customers' business challenges and then provide the best recommendations.
The focus has shifted to helping customers solve problems, rather than convincing them that they need your products. Today's sales professionals are not relying solely on their powers of persuasion, but have access to a broad range of tools that give them the information they need to understand their customers and prospects better.
With the right technology, sales professionals are not only doing a better job of listening, but acting on what they heard quickly and efficiently.
Make a difference by giving back.
It's often said that millennials want more than just a job -- they want fulfilling and meaningful careers where they feel like they're making a difference. At Salesforce, which was founded on a corporate philanthropic model called 1-1-1 -- where one per cent of our company's product, equity and time are all donated to improve the communities we live in -- this is achieved on a daily basis.
Whether it's helping to renovate a teaching facility that serves 100 special needs students or banding together to build a community garden at a public school, our employees are motivated and incredibly passionate about this unique model. We also attribute a lot of our recruitment and retention success to our unique philanthropic corporate culture.
Chart your own course (and schedule).
There are many perks that come with a career in sales and flexibility is certainly a major one. A career in sales provides you with the autonomy to chart your own course and control your destiny. You don't have to be stuck in an office from nine to five, Monday-to-Friday. This flexibility provides you with the freedom to pursue your personal passions, whether it's volunteering or travelling, while excelling professionally. If you need to take a day off or take a vacation, you can simply plan your customer meetings around your schedule.
Expand your horizons and your social networks.
Sales is a marathon, not a sprint. There is no real finish line in sales, only checkpoints in the form of monthly or yearly quotas. The best salespeople are the ones who are always trying to improve their skills.
Many sales positions also offer the ability to travel and learn about different cities, countries and cultures. You can also expand your social network, as sales allows you to meet different people from various industries, which can also help advance career growth.
How to kick start your sales career.
If you're interested in pursuing a career in sales, try to connect with someone who is already in the field to get an understanding of what an average day looks like. If you don't personally know someone in the industry, try searching LinkedIn for sales representatives from companies you would be interested in working for and ask for a call or coffee date. You could also search for upcoming networking events in your city, where you can meet and greet recruiters, managers and salespeople directly.
If you manage to get a foot in the door, you should be willing to work at an entry-level position where you can learn as much as possible about the field. To build a successful, long-term career in sales, you should always be willing to learn more, no matter how long you've been working in the field.
Setting personal and professional goals ensures you're always pushing forward. Make it a daily habit to stay on top of all the news of the day, not just the topics you're interested in, as this creates the conversation starters and business acumen you need to be successful.
Lastly, find a mentor to help you identify areas for improvement, and help you navigate your career path.
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Find and foster different mentors for your varying skillsets. We’re more connected than we’ve ever been before to various acquaintances, friends, and professionals through our various social networks, which can be a huge source of support in a sometimes formidable technological world. Seeking out the help of someone a little bit more seasoned is one of the best things a millennial can do (just make sure to stay in touch with them). Having some outside perspective can help you sort out what you’d like to do in your life.
Everyone who has something to learn also has something to offer. While millennials are often branded as being a tech-savvy generation, that is often a simplistic view. Millennials do offer that, but, in many cases, they offer a far more realistic answer to certain situations. That’s why offering to mentor someone in the basics of your strong suit can be so useful for you and your mentorship student. By simply opening up your mind and thought process to another person, you’d be surprised how much both parties end up learning from it.
Despite widely reported issues surrounding our average student and personal debt, millennials aren’t actually doomed to a life of financial ruin. In fact, nearly half of all people in their 20s have started saving their money in a dedicated account. It turns out that the biggest hurdle facing millennials and their money isn’t a lack of ability when it comes to saving money, but a lack of trustworthy/good advice when it comes to money matters. To put it simply: we need to stop viewing our parents as the sole authorities on financial advice in our lives. Various studies show that millennials tend to struggle with finding a good source to provide financial guidance, and ultimately end up standing in place. We’re not saying to cut out the opinions and advice of your folks; they probably have some great tips and tricks (and, you know, respect your elders and all that) for you. But that advice should be paired with firsthand financial knowledge, and that’s on you to seek out and learn. You’ll be thankful that you took the initiative to understand (and control) your financial future, and so will your family back home.
Do you like Netflix? Of course you do. Do you like sleeping? You don’t even need to answer that. Are these in short supply sometimes? Now that’s the most problematic bit. One of the things that people often overlook in their lives is scheduling a block of “Me Time.” It seems like we stretch ourselves pretty thin in a lot of ways (work, relationships, home care, etc.) and when we crash, we crash hard. This makes dealing with the overwhelming nature of life and its endless possibilities extra tough. If your brain is in overdrive, how can you make a coherent choice about anything? It’s not impossible, but it’s still hard. That’s why a diverse array of business leaders and industry thinkers have been examining how we live our lives, and they’ve all come to the same conclusion: the work-life balance needs to be rebooted, and we can start by severely limiting how much work and digital noise we bring home with us. This is why it’s so important to budget out proper rest and relaxation time time for napping, relaxing, and binge-watching the shows in your Netflix queue. For every step you take towards realizing yourself and your dreams, make sure to take a moment to recharge and congratulate yourself for the forward momentum you’ve generated. You’re not being a Lazy Millennial; you’re ensuring that you’re not headed towards a midlife crisis down the road. Maybe the older generations could stand to take some advice from you for a change. The road map to Being A Millennial is being written every day, and there’s no right or wrong way to navigate this relatively unique point in history. But as long as you’re pushing forward and keeping your dreams in sight (no matter what form those dreams may take), you’re on the right path. Good luck!
Follow Dave Borrelli on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DaveBorrelli