It's convocation season. This year 100,000 graduates will leave Ontario universities, introducing a new cohort of eager and educated young people into the workforce.
For some, a career path is set, but for many a degree presents a multitude of choices. For graduates of marketing, commerce, and many arts and sciences disciplines, a great option to consider is a career in sales. Not only can a career in sales provide exposure to different industries and emerging markets, it can serve as a launchpad for an intriguing and fulfilling career path and can be a good fit for any personality type. In fact, a strong background in sales could lead straight to the C-suite, as the role of chief marketing and sales officer is becoming increasingly more common in corporations as the lines between sales and marketing continue to blur.
Whether you're in inbound sales, enterprise sales, sales enablement, sales management or any other branch of sales, embarking on a career in sales offers great opportunities for new graduates. Here are just a few reasons to consider a career in sales:
- Hone your interpersonal skills.
Customer relationship management, both as a tool and as a real-life skill, is a salesperson's best friend, as it helps you make meaningful connections with those you're dealing with. By its very nature, a sales career requires that you learn to work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and walks of life. Whether they're potential clients, current customers, colleagues or internal cross-functional team members, having a firm grasp on your interpersonal skills will help you achieve alignment more quickly, and create smoother relationships across the board. These skills, along with the essential selling techniques and approaches you'll gain throughout your career in sales, will be useful for the rest of your life. For example, as you progress in your sales career, you'll have the know-how to sell your own skills by advocating for yourself in an effective way.
- Build your network.
Having a solid network is essential in sales, but truthfully, it's essential regardless of where your career takes you. Sales enables you to gain the skills to establish and grow a network, learn how to nurture it and then draw from it from role to role. This includes networks developed for social selling, which can often have a higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing.
- Keep up with the latest technologies and industry trends.
The persona of the salesperson has changed dramatically over the years. The image of the dusty door-to-door salesman or the aggressive and pushy salesperson have, thankfully, faded into the past. Today's salespeople are smart, savvy, personable and engaged with technology. In fact, salespeople often have access to some of the most advanced, intuitive and innovative technologies, thanks to the tools they use in their career. And because so much of a salesperson's role involves being outside of the office they're often privy to cutting-edge mobile apps, wearables and tools to successfully close a sale.
- Enjoy an accelerated career path.
Unlike many fields, career openings in sales are abundant and on the rise. In fact, sales is among the top 10 occupations that has seen a growth of five per cent or more in the last several years, according to a 2014 report by Canada's Department of Finance. Along with those openings come opportunities as companies recognize the importance of their sales function. If you show an acumen for sales, your potential for advancement is limitless. The combination of the will to succeed and the skill to close the deal is as relevant and possible for a salesperson in their twenties as one in their fifties.
- Great compensation. Not only are sales jobs available, the salaries associated with these positions are highly lucrative. Depending on the company and the compensation structure, many sales roles include a high base salary plus either a commission or a bonus, which can put many salespeople into enviable income brackets very quickly. For someone starting out in a career, this is especially appealing as it's an opportunity to quickly pay down student debt, achieve home ownership at a younger age or start saving for an early retirement.
Sales is an ever-growing field and a career with many options and paths. If you're passionate about various industries and don't ever want to stop learning, consider a career in sales as a great way to use that newly earned degree.
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