Why sales is a great place to launch your career

October 2019
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If you enjoy interacting with people, connecting solutions to problems, hitting goals, or you've got a competitive edge, then sales might be a great place to launch your career.

Sales tends to get a bad wrap. But it shouldn’t–at least, not when done well.

The best kind of sales is prescriptive or consultative. Someone in the world has a problem they’re not yet sure how to solve, or one they’re maybe not aware of yet. Great salespeople can identify the people who have a legitimate felt need and build a relationship around filling that need the best way possible.
Sales is a great place to start for someone who’s competitive. But it’s not all just about hitting quotas. If you’re a people-person, a good listener, and the idea of speaking to strangers doesn’t bother you, then sales could be a great starting point.
Another added benefit of sales is it’s a role that offers a very tangible relationship between results and income. But don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it’s an easy job you’ll for sure get rich doing. Sales takes a lot of work–and the best salespeople I know are masters of executing a process.
If you search a jobs board, your probably find dozens of different titles for sales roles. It appears under a variety of different names–in tech, titles like Sales Associate, Sales Development Representative, Business Development Representative, or even Inside Sales are all common.
The titles are a bit vague, but basically, they indicate where the role fits within an organization and the type of sale you're making. Once you’re familiar with the different titles, you may begin to notice trends.
Most startups or tech companies have an “inside” sales team for their product. As the name suggests, the team works inside the company–usually in the office (though occasionally remote)–but they contact people outside the organization. This usually involves a high frequency of phone calls and emails.
Contrast that with outside sales and business development. Outside sales usually involves some element of door-to-door sales. No, this doesn’t always literally mean walking door to door, though it can. In many cases, outside sales reps cover a specific territory, and the product they’re selling involves more face-to-face or on-site conversations.
Similarly, business development can involve a lot of face-to-face interaction. Usually business development involves identifying partnership opportunities or larger types of deals that are outside the scope of normal inside sales roles. These deals often have strategic advantages for a company. For example, imagine a payroll company partnering with an accounting software company–both companies could benefit from accessing each others customers and offering their services together.
Regardless of the title, sales, at its core, is about connecting with people and building trust.
And if you’re just starting out your career and are looking for a challenging, fast-paced jumping-off point, look no further. This resource page is all about the benefits of launching a career in sales.
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What skills do you need for sales?

Contrary to popular belief, sales is not all about talking.

Sure, the ability to hold a conversation and pick up the phone to call a total stranger is valuable. But listening and understanding a potential customer’s needs are equally, if not more, important to being effective in sales.
Awareness is also a great soft skill in sales. How do people perceive you? Can you read a room or social cues well? This is also a valuable tool in your sales kit.

Other useful skills include the ability to present, articulate communication, time and task management, the ability to create or manage workflows, a level of comfort on phone or video calls, written and verbal communication, and a high level of emotional intelligence.

Beyond soft skills, a broad range of proficiency in different sales tools and software–or the ability to quickly learn–will also serve you well.

To dive deeper into what those tools look like in tangible terms, we’ve highlighted some of the most popular softwares and tools sales teams at startups use to manage their ideal flow on a day-to-day basis.

The Sales Tech Stack

These are some of the top tool salespeople use daily.

A career in sales offers a skillset that translates well wherever you go.

A big benefit of sales is that once you’ve learned it, you can apply it to most other walks of life. Fundamentals of sales–understanding people’s needs, persuasion, effective communication, listening, and problem solving–are all skills that pay dividends down the road, even if you later decide sales isn't for you.
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