The Evolution of a Successful Sales Career

shutterstock_248565883Sales plays a major role in so many aspects of business and life in general.  For many, sales can be an extremely lucrative career path that can lead to high paying, high level management positions. In a study done byCareerBliss, it was found that VP of Sales is the number one happiest high-paying job of 2015. There are so many potential sales career paths that span across various industries, with some of the highest paying sales careers being financial service agents, sales engineers, real estate, insurance sales and staffing/recruiting. Regardless of the product or service being sold, there will be many moving parts to master and a lot to learn in order to become an expert in that sector.

A successful career in sales is an evolution over time that begins with cold calling and ends with a revenue producing client portfolio.  The length of time it takes to make it through this cycle is completely in the hands of the individual and the effort they put forth.  In order to become an expert in cold calling, one must learn proper techniques and then cold-call as much as possible to hone their skills. With sales, the saying “practice makes perfect” reigns true. The same can be said for networking, client relationship development, customer service as well as portfolio management.  Without cold-calling, a network cannot be developed.  Without a network, relationships can’t be built.  Without relationships, sales will not happen.

There are many qualities that make a great salesperson.  Learning crucial sales techniques and best practices takes a lot of time and practice. The common stereotype is that the ability to talk (a lot) is the most important quality. While good oral and written communication is key, becoming an expert question asker, active listener, painpoint finder and value seller are additional skills that are typically less natural and require a lot of practice to learn.

Another very important aspect of sales is the need to develop and keep a constant pipeline of new customers and clients. As Barton’s Director of Talent Acquisition said, “As a salesperson, it is very easy to adjust to making more money, but very painful to adjust to making less money.”  If a salesperson allows their pipeline to dry up, they’re allowing their earnings to dry up as well.  Salespeople tend to be money driven, so the need to steadily develop and refine their pipeline, as well as their earnings, is very important.

Much like Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule, a salesperson should adopt a 10k sales calls rule to truly become an expert. A career in sales is an evolution from cold caller to database grower to portfolio manager; with each step always leading up to the next. This means truly successful salesperson never stops cold calling or database growing, as that is how the pipeline is grown and maintained. Sales takes a combination of ambition and patience and cannot be attained overnight. For those who are willing to work through the challenges and evolve with their career, sales can be the perfect balance of helping others as well as growing a fruitful career!

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By Casee Laznick
Casee Laznick Talent Acquisition & Social Media Specialist