You may be giving a lot of thought lately to the next step you’d like to take in your career. One that will result in greater responsibility, upward mobility, and increased salary and bonus opportunity.
Have you considered sales?
It’s a question I love to ask people in the process of developing a vision and plan for their careers. Some embrace the idea of sales while others immediately shoot it down. Why is that? I often find it’s because individuals have a preconceived notion of what sales involves and have dismissed it very early on.
Maybe you have dismissed sales as a next step because you believe it’s:
- Many more instances of “no” than “yes”
- An unending loop of PowerPoint decks and presentations
- Travel intensive
- Tied to weekly/monthly/quarterly sales goals you own and are accountable for hitting
Could there be some merit to these points? Absolutely. Depending on the role, sales can certainly involve all of the above.
But, there so many other facets to sales-like roles within organizations that actually can take a “none of the above” spin to them.
The key reason to consider a stint is sales is to prepare and position you for great opportunities down the road.
Sales teaches professionals to present ideas, position possibilities, motivate thinking, and negotiate outcomes. It teaches individuals to enlist others and get them onboard and turn a no into a yes.
Sales teaches professionals the valuable skill of influence. And, mastering the skill of influence is extremely important to your growth and career development no matter the role you’re in.
Let’s say you want to pitch your senior vice president on a great new product or service idea. Or, you want a promotion to the next level and have great ideas on a position the company could create that you’d be great for. Or, you want to get in front of the CEO of your company because you’d love her to be your mentor. To achieve these things and get attention, you need to influence others within your organization. You need to sell them on the possibilities and benefits.
If working directly with clients and pitching products and services doesn’t sound like a great direction to you, there are still other options. Perhaps you’d enjoy product or technical sales support, product marketing or management, or account/customer service support. Roles like these often involve learning how to position products and services and work with clients to positively influence their experience with the company.
Let’s say you see yourself owning your own business down the road. Mastering sales skills sooner than later will be a tremendously valuable and important skill for you to make your business a success.
If a role change isn’t a possibility for you at this time, here are a few other ideas on ways to learn and build your sales and influence skills:
- Ask friends or family members who work in sales to teach you some techniques
- Shadow sales team members within your company
- Invest in a sales training course or two
- Read a few books that focus on sales development
- Follow blog posts and Twitter feeds from sales leaders
Whether it’s taking on a selling or sales support role or expanding your professional development to include sales training, you’re sure to acquire valuable techniques for presenting yourself and your ideas to influence buy-in.
Ultimately, building this skill set will put you on a great path for positions of greater responsibility and compensation.
– Jackie Simon