How to Get a Job in Sales Step 1. See If You Have It Step 2. Prepare Yourself for a Job Step 3. Narrow Down Your Choices Step 4. Delve into Job Hunt Your Takeaway
How to Get a Job in Sales Step 1. See If You Have It Step 2. Prepare Yourself for a Job Step 3. Narrow Down Your Choices Step 4. Delve into Job Hunt Your Takeaway
Updated 01/11/2020

How to Get a Job in Sales

We gathered all recommendations and advice on how to get a sales job for you to expedite your job hunt. Whether you are a seasoned salesperson or new in sales, you will find these 5 simple steps helpful for advancing your career or making a complete change in your life.

We gathered all recommendations and advice on how to get a sales job for you to expedite your job hunt. Whether you are a seasoned salesperson or new in sales, you will find these 5 simple steps helpful for advancing your career or making a complete change in your life.

Selling things is believed to be the world’s second-oldest profession. Although some might see selling as human nature, others prefer to delegate selling to other people. That is why the salespeople have always been in high demand with a low barrier of entry. Besides, sales accompany every industry. From the medical field to IT and arts, sales professionals are sought-after.

Many companies are in constant search of new sales talent. Applying the Pareto principle to sales, 20% of a company’s salespeople bring 80% of its sales. It suggests that one talented salesperson can make a difference for the whole organization. You may turn out to be that gifted individual.

If you want to work in sales, be prepared to treat your job search as a sales gig. To land a great sales job, you need to sell yourself to the highest bidder. If you’re new in sales, consider it a trial run for the profession and see if it fits you.

Veterans in sales say that genuine salespeople must first see themselves as the product they sell.

“Applying for a sales job is an audition for the job,”

says John Klymshyn, author of How to Sell Without Being a Jerk!: The Foolproof Approach to the World’s Second Oldest Profession. Before you get the right to sell any product or service, the employer expects you to demonstrate the degree to which you acquired the art of selling. ‘Selling’ your manners, poise, first impression, and likability is the top way to win trust and secure a position in sales.

Let’s start from the part where you ask yourself important questions and see where it takes us. Then we’ll explain how to get into sales with or without experience.

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Step 1. See If You Have It

Whether starting a career in sales or moving up the corporate ladder, you need to have a good grasp of the profession and what it takes to succeed in sales. The world of sales is its own unique territory with its own principles, rules, and even philosophy. Before you start your job hunt, analyze your inherent traits and acquired competencies, and have at least a rudimentary knowledge of sales.

Therefore, your first step is to make sure that you have it. Or at least make sure you’re ready to work on yourself and develop the skills required for a sales job.

What skills does it take to succeed in sales?

  • Small talk should be easy for you. Many sales start with simple banter. First, you build a rapport, and then you make your pitch. If you are good at talking to people, you have a chance at being good at sales. If you aren’t, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn how to be a strong verbal communicator. However, if the mere idea of chatting up a potential customer makes you swoon, you have probably bitten more than you can chew.
  • You can think on your feet. With sales, thinking on your feet means making decisions quickly and reading the room and adjusting to it immediately. You must be ready at all times to change your tactics depending on a prospect’s reaction to your pitch. If you see that a potential client feels uncomfortable or demonstrates an aversion to something you say, you should be able to switch a topic or take a different approach.
  • You know what to ask, and you listen to answers. Customers often reveal all the personal information you need to know to help them buy from you. Therefore, you need to listen carefully and ask pointed questions. A good salesperson is not deaf or blind to a customer’s situation. Only when you know a customer’s real need can you help them with your product. Find out what the customer wants and how much they can spend, then adjust your proposition to fit their needs.
  • You are stubborn and resilient. Most salespeople depend on commissions. You need some time to learn the product and develop your client base. Besides, after a high season, there might be a low period for sales. If you want to work in sales, you must be ready for income fluctuations, both mentally and financially.
  • You are authentic. This character trait is not the most essential, as many dishonest salespeople are probably thriving. However, if ethics and values are not empty words for you, your customers will sense and appreciate it in you too. Working in sales can bring you more if you choose long-term strategies instead of short-term gains. Many people appreciate a sincere and ethical salesperson and will send new customers your way.
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Step 2. Prepare Yourself for a Job

Now start prep work. You need to move in two directions at the same time. On the one hand, find out what options are out there in your city/town and which companies may have openings. On the other hand, look into yourself and see what excites you and where you would like to work. Finally, learn more about the industry and the business of sales – you will need this theoretical knowledge in general and at job interviews.

Look Around

Find out what companies and positions there are in your city. Match it to what field you want to work in. For example, if you want to work in the fashion industry, but your city has only a few shopping malls, it may be a better idea to start in car sales (let’s assume they are booming in your town) or move to a more fashion-centric city.

Look Inside Yourself

It’s always easier to sell a product that you like and feel excited about. Thinking about your values will also help you make a better choice for yourself. For example, if you are an environmentally conscious person, you may feel uncomfortable working for an automobile giant. In such a case, you either look for a job selling electric cars or opt for a different field altogether.

Read Up

There is a lot of professional literature out there for you to study. Here are just a few names:

  • More Sales, Less Time: Surprisingly Simple Strategies for Today's Crazy-Busy Sellers by Jill Konrath
  • New Sales. Simplified.: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development by Mike Weinberg
  • SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath

For grabbing a few bites of sales wisdom right aware quick check out

TED Talks, for example:

  • Ernesto Sirolli’s “Want to Help Someone? Shut Up and Listen!”
  • Angela Lee Duckworth’s “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.”

How To Get A Job In Sales With No Experience:

  • Try retail. Starting in retail is an excellent option for people with zero credentials in sales. You can be a retail sales associate without any experience in sales whatsoever. Or try yourself as a sales consultant or a cashier to get more experience managing money and working with customers.
  • Search entry-level positions. Search for open positions on job boards and specific companies’ websites and LinkedIn pages. They often advertise entry-level vacancies. Some companies offer training, so it is an excellent opportunity for you to break in the field.
  • Consider working independently. If it is difficult for you to find a job in sales because you have no experience, you can try your hand as an independent salesperson. Start as a cosmetic company representative or a travel agent. Thus, you will get the sales experience you need, and during the next job hunt, your candidacy will be more attractive for potential employers.
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Step 3. Narrow Down Your Choices

After you’ve weighed your chances of having a promising career in sales, you must single out an industry where you can evolve as a salesperson. You should understand which companies are the leaders, which companies are their competitors, which offer the best working conditions, and whose needs match your skills.

The job market is unpredictable: you can find a job within weeks, or it could take you months. That is why, regardless of whether you opted for selling cars, clothes, or foods, you need to develop a plan of how you will get the job. Here are our recommendations:

  • Make a list of companies you would like to work for. On the one hand, you can randomly find any two-three companies you would like to work with and offer them your candidacy. On the other hand, you can make a list of companies with sales departments and choose the ones where you have the highest odds of securing a vacancy. You will need this list of companies if your first job application and interview don’t work out right away. Looking for a job is a grind, and quick results are rare.
  • Pick a few companies you would like to work with the most. Explore their websites and statistics to understand their mission and values. You will need that information later when they invite you to a job interview. At this point, you just need to know whether you want to send them your application.
  • Don’t waste your time waiting for a perfect job offer. After sending the first batch of resumes, don’t wait for a reply. Keep sending applications going down the list of companies you made.
  • Don’t forget about LinkedIn. You can use any social media. But LinkedIn will have the most impact as it is a go-to resource for employers and candidates alike. Many candidates underestimate the power of LinkedIn. Meanwhile, hiring managers always head-hunt at this social medium for new talents. First, spruce up your LinkedIn page by adding your recent relevant experience in sales and updating your profile picture. Second, be active on LinkedIn. Like all other social media, the algorithms favor activity. Share interesting information and your sales cases, reveal your statistics, and share your passion for the profession.

Step 4. Delve into Job Hunt

There are sales positions in every industry. So how to find a sales job opening is not particularly difficult. However, competition is intense. One thing you must remember at all times: A Job Hunt is a Job in Itself. Do something to find a job every day. The main elements of a job hunt can be boiled down to three basic components: spreading the word of your candidacy, preparing and re-working your applications, and attending interviews.

Spreading the word of your candidacy

Although earlier, we advised you to narrow down your choice to a few companies, it doesn’t mean that you just send two-three resumes and cover letters and patiently wait for their answer. According to our research, a typical job search may last up to three-four months, depending on the region and industry. Therefore, you must be ready to put in time and effort on a regular basis.

What does ‘spreading the word’ mean? Visit job fairs and check out job boards regularly. Send out your applications almost daily. Work that list of companies you want to work to the bone! You can start from the most exciting and lucrative positions, but don’t get disheartened and keep working the list. If you’ve exhausted the industry you initially chose, think of an adjacent field.

Preparing and re-working applications

Preparing resumes can be tricky for newcomers. It has its rules and conventions:

Tailor your resumes. Each resume must be tailored for each position you apply. If you respond to a job description, read it thoroughly, and word your work experience and relevant skills in such a way to emphasize that your candidacy is a great fit. As for ‘cold cover letters’ or ‘cold resumes,’ when you inform a company that you would like to be considered for employment even though there is no opening at the moment, make sure that you send them to the right person (responsible for recruiting) and briefly inform the purpose of your email.

Use a resume builder to get a persuasive resume. Resume writing is not easy if you have little or no experience in writing professional documents. The point is listing your places of work and cherry-picking the instances from your employment history that best fit the specific job description. You will benefit from using professional resume templates with perfect layouts and correct formats, especially if you’re entry-level. A resume template will make your application look professional and polished.

Details matter. When you send out your applications, even the slightest detail can play a crucial role in whether your resume and cover letter finds its way to the recruiter’s top candidates or is tossed in the trash. For example, email headings are important, and a recruiter will notice a meaning-packed email title like ‘Experienced Sales Representative Found’ quicker than ‘Application for a position in sales.’ Also, personalized greetings are much better than a generic ‘Dear Sirs/Madams.’ Take some time to find the name of the hiring manager. It will show that you care and can find information on demand.

Remember about a cover letter. Nowadays, a cover letter is a must for all resumes. But not a generic one. Customize your cover letter for each application, mentioning the position to which you are applying, your most relevant skills, valuable personal traits, achievements, and enthusiasm for pursuing this role. Even the top management positions, such as a sales executive and a sales director, need a cover letter.

Follow up. It is common for job applicants to follow up their resumes with an email or a call asking for the results. This tactic is not a recommendation per se, but it can be a good opportunity to show your perseverance and commitment to sales positions. Wait three to ten days and send a short email where you thank the recruiter for their time and effort and ask for feedback.

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Attending interviews

Getting started in sales begins with a job interview. It’s time for you to shine and demonstrate your public persona. It’s also an opportunity to showcase your salesman tactics after you get hired. Therefore, always prepare for your job interviews. Wear clean and appropriate clothes and do preliminary research of a company to demonstrate your thorough approach.

  • Think about your best sale. Recruiters like to ask candidates for their achievements and success in their previous jobs to get a taste of your professional skills and your personal traits. Even if it is your first job in sales, you need to come up with some personal anecdotes of how you convinced someone (‘sold something’) or find other hidden sales experience. If you have no sales-related experience at all, just refer to your most significant achievement in sports, arts, or a hobby, demonstrating your grit and hard work.
  • Think of your personal qualities relevant to sales. Communicative skills required for salespeople do not equal being outgoing and extroverted. Getting ready for an interview, look for personal stories that characterize you as a result-oriented and passion-driven individual. Successful salespersons usually have listening skills, empathy, competitiveness, confidence, and enthusiasm for their job. Think of examples to show the recruiter that you have those character traits.
  • Think of your personal sales philosophy. A recruiter may ask about your sales philosophy, so be ready to discuss it in detail. After reading a book or two on sales, you will easily develop your sales approach. For example, your sales philosophy could be, “First, I learn what a customer needs, then I see where I can help with my product,” or “Don’t run after customers but deliver the best when they come to you.”
  • Think of your value. Klymshyn, author of How to Sell Without Being a JERK!, advises relying on metrics. If you are not a newbie in sales, you can use your best sales and highest numbers as leverage in negotiations. A recruiter may be impressed with the number of sales you made or the revenue you brought in. Elaborate on your methods and approaches. If you have no sales experience, rely on your personal strengths and characteristics to show you are a great candidate.
  • Dress smart. As the conventional wisdom goes, “Dress for the job you want.” When interviewing for a sales job, arrive wearing a jacket at the very least. The rest depends on the field and the company. Some allow smart casual, while others demand their employees wear suits and ties. Don’t wear flashy colors and uncomfortable, tight clothing. Be clean.
  • Remember what you sell. At a job interview, you sell yourself. So each interview is a rehearsal for you. Be on time, come prepared, make eye contact, and smile. Offer your candidacy based on the company’s needs.
  • Follow up. Similarly to how salespeople call up clients they previously met, job interviews are advised to follow up with an email or a hand-written note. Say thank you for the experience, and let them know that you are waiting to hear back from them.

Your Takeaway

Looking for a sales job can feel like a chore, especially if you have no experience: you need to ‘sell’ yourself before you have any chance to sell a product. After considering all the tips we shared with you, remember to stay motivated and knowledgeable. Read books on sales and communication, continue networking, join professional groups and associations, and keep sending your applications relentlessly. Sooner or later, your perseverance will pay off, and you will land a superb job.

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