How to ensure long term success in a sales career?

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There is a famous rule in sales that says 20 percent of customers are responsible for generating 80 percent of the business. While this is a universally accepted rule, it has a lesser known corollary; 20 percent of sales people bring in 80 percent of the total business for their organization. If you want to be one of those 20 percent, you need to survive in a fiercely competed field where ruthlessness, guile, intelligence and knowledge are your best friends in the long run. How can you ensure longevity for your career in these tough times? 

Understanding Why You Want a Career in Sales

In order to have a long term success at anything you should be sure enough to really want it. If you are looking for a successful run in sales, then first analyze your mental preparedness for a career in it. What pulls you towards sales? Is it the money, which definitely will always be greater than an administrative or technical role? Or is it the sense of achievement that one is filled with every time he or she makes a significant contribution to company’s earnings? Do you love influencing people’s decisions, playing with their mind and making them do what you want them to do? If yes, a career in sales would offer you a legitimate way of pursuing this hobby of yours. Here are some other why’s you would find a career in sales worth considering:
  • A graduate degree isn’t a compulsion although having one wouldn’t hurt your future prospects
  • As long as you deliver, you will be free to experiment with the schedule, make your own appointments
  • You will see the result of your hard work in real time
  • Most CEOs and VPs started with their career as a sales person. This doesn’t guarantees you a top position, yet serves as a good inspiration. 

Gaining Entry and Having a First Great Year

Even with all your aggression, passion to succeed and skills you will still require an opportunity, a place from where to start. The easiest way to gain entry is through a college campus placement, for which, of course, you will first have to pursue a degree in sales. But what if you don’t? In such cases, individuals need to exhibit extraordinary zeal to sell.

Your communication skills can individually make the whole difference. Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to negotiate, initiate a conversation and close a deal are always the traits of a gifted sales person. A recruiter would test you on all of these skills before taking you on board. Most entry level sales jobs are in retail, where the eligibility requirements are quite relaxed compared to other sectors such as real estate, wholesale and manufacturing, insurance and advertising among others.

Having a great first year: Having made it through the door to the cabin, you need to prove your mettle. An outstanding first year can set the tone for the rest of the career and inspire you throughout the lows and highs that you will experience in future. So if you’re a new sales professional who wants to not only survive the first year but thrive, your ears will come in handier than your mouth will. Listen to your prospective customers, understanding their needs and serving them accordingly. Your focus should be on making a difference and not just making a sale. Learn from people surrounding you who have grown wiser with passing years. Take advantage of their expertise whenever and wherever you can.


Career Development for Long-Term Success

You must have set goals for your sales career. You might want to land a top managerial position like VP Sales, in a multinational organization or start a company of your own. However, to ensure you actually get a VP sales job, or become an owner of a company you need to keep revisiting these goals and check your progress on the same. Having gained few years of experience and demonstrated a proven track record of sales success, your career could take you to positions like sales manager or area manager. For positions above it, you need to indulge yourself in career development incessantly. Keep your skills sharp and industry knowledge up to date. Create a written document of your final goals and review your performance every quarter. Audit yourself, a self-assessment of your skills, knowledge, abilities and experience.

Go that extra mile and take help of a career coach or a mentor who will give his own insight and energy to propel you towards the accomplishment of your final goals. Use S.M.A.R.T action strategy to help you gain momentum towards supporting the longer term goals.
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eStudents Guide: How to ensure long term success in a sales career?
How to ensure long term success in a sales career?
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