Why Everyone Should Work in Sales (at Least Once in Their Life)

As anyone who’s worked in sales can tell you, you develop more than just good selling skills in this business—you learn the tricks of the life trade: how to lead a more people-focused, calmer, more self-empowered existence. Those skills are invaluable when it comes to getting ahead in life, both personally and professionally.

People Who Need People
Working in sales, you develop people skills. It’s not just that you get better with the kind of people you know and understand already; we’re talking people from all cultures, professions, lifestyles, social circles, races, age brackets, etc. Part of your job as a sales rep is making individuals—often strangers—feel comfortable, while instilling in them enough trust to get them to open up about their needs. What’s more, you don’t get to choose your clients. They choose you—and you never know who’s behind door number customer.

Peopling all the time means you’re frequently in uncomfortable situations. Sales helps overcome any shyness you might possess. You begin to feel more relaxed making your way through the sometimes scary scenarios of human interactions.

Keeping at It
You develop stamina working as a sales rep. When it comes to perseverance and determination, you need to be able, again and again, to go the distance. That’s what’s expected of you—customers know you’ll drop them a second, third, even fourth or fifth line before they’ll get around to responding. And when you do finally make contact over the phone, you better be prepared to create a connection if you want to get to the next stage in the sales process. The drive and determination you gain from this type of experience can be repurposed in countless other areas of life.

Rejection is part and parcel of this business too. You could go a long way with a prospect and end up with bupkis to show for it. You’ll need to move past lost opportunities, looking optimistically in the direction of your next prospect, while at the same time learning from those go-nowhere deals.

Do I Look Thick in This?
Your clothes will fit the same. Glancing at yourself in the mirror, you will not be able to see the change. But you’ll be developing a thick skin. This is useful in a business where rejection tries to slap the confidence off you. In so many areas of life and no matter where you end up in your career, a thick skin can become your favorite outfit. It makes you calm in the face of turbulence. It means you hesitate before reacting. The Zen-like skill you’ve picked up of not reacting to customer negativity is of use anywhere, anytime, with anyone who tries to push your buttons.

You’ll Be a Samurai
Negotiating concessions and pricing with customers is an everyday fact of the sales rep. But the good reps don’t see this in terms of who’ll be victorious. The price points they land on constitute win-wins for everyone involved. That takes a lot of finesse. Whether you’re buying or selling your home, going for a job outside of sales, or are engaged in talks with the in-laws about who’s hosting this year’s ho-hum holiday party, you know how to architect an acceptable deal. Human interactions of all kinds often involve negotiation and compromise. As a samurai negotiator, you understand and embrace the concept of a holistic point of view.

Timing the Ask
As a good sales rep, you have the ability to make a well-timed ask; a talent for knowing the right moment to close a deal and put yourself out there. Those outside of sales may have no clue how to ask for what they want. Too reserved or too passive aggressive, they may only drop a bunch of hints. But generally speaking, people stink at reading minds. For the average person, it may be the path of least resistance to be indirect, but it also leads nowhere fast. Fear is often the driving force there; sometimes low self-esteem is to blame. Sales folks have mastered the art of being direct in a non-threatening, non-offensive, fearless way. In sales, miscommunication is at stake in not being direct—we don’t let a deal go dissolving into the ether over something as simple as letting words come out of the pie hole.

World Champion 20 Questions Players
Asking good questions of your customers is the only way of getting at the heart of their dilemma and finding a solution for them. Faced with customers who don’t have a clue what they’re lacking business-wise, your job is to determine what they need, and you do that by asking questions. The byproduct of being a good questioner is being an active listener. Bonus: That means you’ll avoid the dog house at home with your life partner.

Powering the Engine of Your Own Existence
Finally—perhaps most significantly—you’ll become entrepreneurial. Success, commissions, and setting and reaching goals are the driving forces for any a sales rep. We have this in common with business owners. We’re also self-starters. We’re disciplined. To be successful in sales requires dedication, organization, and motivation. Those traits means cash on the barrelhead in any walk of life. We’re not saying “Look at us! Aren’t we so great?” In fact, we don’t need to say that. Because confidence is another benefit to this job. And when you’ve got that, you’re more than fully equipped for the job of life.