Starting A Career In Sales: 10 Tips To Get Your First Sales Role

Starting A Career In Sales

A job in sales is often one of the most in-demand and least filled positions. So if you’re considering starting a career in sales and are looking for a job that lets you meet lots of new people, often allows flexibility to set your own hours and the chance to make more money the better you perform, look no further than a job in sales.

If you’re thinking to yourself, I’ve never done this before, can I get a sales job with no experience in sales? The answer is yes! As a sales trainer and sales manager, I look for and encourage my clients to look for when hiring someone for a sales role. Actually, I highly recommend everyone work in sales at least once in their life.

Also read: Why Everyone Should Work in Sales at Least Once in Their Life

After polling our readers on their best advice to give someone starting out in sales, many of the tips came up over and over again. It’s clear, if there were only 10 tips we could give someone who is just starting a career in sales, it would be the below 10.

1. Learn Core Sales Principles To Land A Sales Job With No Experience

You’re passionate, eager, and full of optimism but do you know the core Sales principles? Memorize, internalize, and apply these three core principles to get a sales job with no experience. Trust us; your interviewee will be impressed!

Build Sales On Trust

Your potential employers want to see that you’re honest, truthful, and open. Why? Because that’s who customers need to perceive you as a Salesperson. It would help if you were likable, easy to trust, and impressionable to make and continue to make sales. An excellent way to represent your trustworthiness is to open up, maybe discuss your weaknesses or perhaps even tell a story about a time where you failed – it’ll show integrity, which will definitely land you a sales job with no experience.

Benefits Sell – Features Don’t

In sales, you sell the benefits, not the features. Do the same in your interview. Don’t focus on the skills you have, focus on the benefits you bring to the company.

How’re you going to make your boss’s life easier? What can you help them with? What can you improve? Fix? Optimize? It would help if you sold the benefits of hiring you to your prospect manager. While sure, there’s some use in explaining what you’re great at, the deciding factor will come down to: What can you do for the company?

Persistence Is Key

Sales Representatives have to be persistent by nature; following up, checking in, and making constant contact with prospects is the name of the game. So if you can immediately follow-up after your interview, you’ll show your ideal employers that you understand the fundamental idea that persistence is key to land a sales job with no experience.

Listen to the Customer

To succeed in sales, you need to be a good listener. What does that mean? That means listening more than you talk. A good ratio to follow is the 80/20 rule. Let your customer do 80% of the talking. Listen to what their needs are and what are their desired outcomes. Once you understand these, you can then use the remaining 20% to ask questions and sell your product.

“Your customer may not always be right, but if you don’t listen to them, you may be selling them the wrong product, service or advice.” – Daniel Jackmon – Business Development

Be Ethical | Starting A Career In Sales

Do ethics and sales go together? They should, but dishonest salespeople have given us a bad name. So we need to change that. By being honest and trustworthy, you build confidence in your customers that you are the right person to buy from. If you don’t know the answer to something, don’t make it up, find out.

“Embrace the precept that integrity is always essential in developing relationships with the understanding that people like to buy but they don’t want to be sold.” – Craig W – Business Development

 Overcome Objections

Don’t be caught off guard when a customer says the product or service is too expensive. The price objection is a common objection that doesn’t need to be answered with lowering the price. Instead, listen to how your peers overcome price objections. Do they explain the reason for why the product or service costs more? Do they show the customer how the product or service reduces their costs? The key is to write down your most common objections and your answers to how to overcome them.

“Know the common objections that your customers have and know exactly what to say for each one to overcome it”. – Veronica B., retail sales representative

2. Read Sales Books

There is a wealth of information about sales, and one of the easiest ways to learn about sales is by picking up a few classic books. Check out To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink, Sell or be Sold by Grant Cardone, and The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon. My book ‘The SOHO Solution: 21 Selling Strategies for Growing Your Small Business” is also my book. Yes, I couldn’t help but include my own book.

To view my 9 all-time favorite books on sales, read: 9 Books You Should Read on How to Sell

3. Take a Course in Sales

Impress your future employer, and show up already trained on the art of selling. You can take several great sales workshops, both in-person and online, including our online sales course Soco Academy. If you’re a Singaporean, you can often use your SkillsFuture credit to pay for these courses.

Not only are sales courses a fantastic way to deepen your knowledge on sales, but they’re also a great way to network (particularly with in-person courses) and show potential employers that you are serious about the sales field.

4. Highlight Transferable Skills

When you’re applying and interviewing, don’t be afraid to tout transferable skills you may have from other non-sales jobs. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant—or any customer-facing job—you’ve developed skills such as identifying needs, problem-solving, and basic customer service. These skills are directly applicable to sales and are very attractive to employers.

5. Research Other Sales Professionals

If you’re looking to land a sales job in retail, go shopping! When you’re interacting with salespeople, please take note of the traits you like in them. How do you feel about the way they approached you and spoke to you? What did they say or do that swayed (or didn’t sway) you?

If possible, visit the store or location of where you will be applying to get an idea of how their salespeople operate. If you’re applying for a role as a business-to-business sales professional, you might not be able to visit their location, so instead, skip to #5 and do your research.

Shadow your company’s top sales professional and take note of what they do differently from everyone else. Watch how they talk, how they dress, how they present themselves. What is their work ethic like, how do they approach customers? By learning from your industry leaders, you can quickly master the art of selling your product or service.

“Stick to the top performer like glue. Copy his or her systems and processes. Once mastered, add your own personality and you can’t go wrong.” – Sean Richardson – Telco Sales

6. Do Your Homework on the Company

Do your research before interviewing. The first thing you need to know when starting a career in sales is that you need to be a product expert. Read all of your company’s literature, brochures and visit your company’s website. Do your own research as a customer would by searching online and reading reviews. Don’t be caught off guard by a prospect mentioning information they’ve found on the web.

Use the product yourself. By being a customer of your own product, you’ll better understand what you’re selling and become a better spokesperson. Who wants to buy a Honda from someone that drives a Toyota? These efforts can go a long way in showing your initiative. You can also show your enthusiasm for the products; if possible, become a customer.

“In order to sell a product, you must fully understand the product you are selling.” – Yuni B. – Retail Sales Professional

7. Demonstrate Your Skills

To drastically increase your chances of getting a sales job with no experience, show your sales skills in the application process. First, follow up after you send in your resume. If they ask you to come in for an interview, call the person in charge and confirm the meeting the day before. Follow up after the interview, as well. These are skills they are looking for in a salesperson, so if you can demonstrate them during the interview, you are more likely to get the job.

8. Know the Lingo

The sales industry is full of its own language, terminology, and jargon. Don’t get caught not knowing common sales terms or the distinction between different sales positions. Looking for an Inside Sales role selling B2B with a long sales cycle? No problems!

9. Build Rapport

One of the most important skills of any sales job is quickly building rapport and trust. During the interview, be friendly and outgoing. Ask the interviewer something about themselves and try to find out what you both share in common.

Have a confident posture. Sit up, don’t avoid eye contact. Listen, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, don’t forget to laugh and have a good time!

10. Starting At The Bottom – The Quickest Way To Get A Sales Job With No Experience

If you have no experience in sales, there’s a good chance you’ll start at the bottom. No retail experience? Getting a retail job is probably the best starting place for anyone looking to get a job in sales with no experience. That could include starting as a ‘sales assist’ where you help the main sales professionals with their deals, or you could start by qualifying new leads that come in. Other times, starting at the bottom in sales means selling some of the company’s cheaper products or being assigned lower quality leads.

While this might not sound glamorous, the beautiful thing about working in sales is your results speak for themselves. You don’t need to be the most popular person on the team or the manager’s favorite to move up or get a raise. When you close deals effectively and do your job well, people will know and you’ll quickly move up the ladder.

The best advice for getting started in sales

Welcome to the world of sales. It is often the most challenging yet fulfilling job out there.

Many people start in a sales role with absolutely no training. While we recommend attending one of our sales training programs or at least reading one of our sales books to give you a good foundation for sales success, we’ve rounded up advice from past workshop participants and fellow newsletter subscribers to get you started. Here’s their best advice to you as you are getting started in sales.

“Understand the Ladder of Customer Loyalty” – Nalin Withana, Lead Group

Learn to manage the ladder of customer loyalty where suspects, prospects, customers, clients, referrals and partners need to be continuously moved up. You should always be thinking how can I turn my suspects into prospects, my prospects into customers, my customers into repeat clients and my clients into referral sources.

“Understand Your Client’s Needs” – Steve Pressland, Hydratight

When getting started in sales, sales professionals need to understand their client’s needs and end goals. Through questioning you can find out what their end goal really is, not just what they think they want. After several years in sales, you’ll find these are often not the same.

“It’s not about you, it’s about them” – Arya Wirawan, Archipelago International

Many sales people think they know more than their customers or clients, but in today’s world, customers tend to be better informed than the sales person themselves. They can observe our products or services online. So as someone getting started in sales, you should always be asking questions, qualifying the client’s needs and trying your best to fit your products or services to your client’s needs.

“Integrity is Essential” – Craig Winkelman, Senior Representative PFS Inc.

When it comes to building strong and lasting relationships with our customers, we need to maintain integrity with them. This comes back to our core ‘S.E.L.L.I.N.G’ fundamentals that includes the essential asset of being ethical. Get caught lying, and you will forever be labelled as a sleazy salesperson in their mind. From there, there is little chance in getting repeat business or referrals.

“People before Process” – Adam Carabetta – Formative Search

In many organisations there is a set process to be followed when developing a sale. Maybe the prospect must come to your office to meet. But what if they’re just too busy, or their office is on the other part of town? Insisting them to come to your office (process) could have you risking the sale and offending the prospect (people) . Sales professionals  need to learn when the rules can be bent and when they should be enforced. Put the people before the process.

“It Gets Easier” – Ken Wong, ProActive Training

When starting out in sales, the beginning is always the toughest. You have so much to learn: everything about the product or service you sell, your customer and the buying cycle as well as sales fundamentals. Don’t be discouraged, instead remember that the more you practice and get in front of your customer, the better you get. With persistence, you have the ability to become a top performer.

How to Get a Sales Job with No Experience

So let’s review: If you really want to land a sales job (and you should), but you lack experience, here’s what you need to do. Read books on sales; take a sales course; focus on your transferable skills such as identifying needs, problem-solving, and basic customer service; think about what you like (and dislike) about salespeople you encounter; research the company thoroughly before interviewing; demonstrate your sales skills during the interview process, and build rapport with the interviewer. You’ll be well on your way to a great sales job!

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