Finding Your Niche in the Sales Industry
When I started in sales, I was surprised and optimistic. However, I was also uncertain about what my new career path would entail. I came from an academic background, and never dreamed I would start a career in business, let alone sales. All I knew was that I had a legitimate shot at something, and I wanted to see where it would take me.
I moved from Michigan to Palo Alto, and San Luis Obispo to North Carolina for an account manager position with a logistics software startup. Prior to this, as a Michigan State graduate focused on Psychology, Philosophy, and English, I had never made a cold call. I did drive for the grand slam of unemployablity, and failed at that! But truly, my education serves me everyday. Regardless, being more or less determined, I went in full steam ahead, and put myself to the test.
The job was difficult, but I stuck with it, eventually landing a $340,000 opportunity. The worst part? It didn't close. Amidst my disappointment, I came to a realization. While I had a knack for following through on deals, the journey of seeing that deal through was too much for me. I realized that I am someone who wants to be more active and kinetic in my work.
So, what was it that lit the fuse and flame for me in sales? Cold calling. The market I called was wide open, and I had the opportunity to ‘clean up’ the places that hadn’t been approached by corporate internet service provider...and that's exactly what I did. During our success, I learned my love of making the call. It was a combination of being extroverted with strangers (which I enjoy immensely), and outdoing my own work, where I was able to crush goals in a market where we were really serving a need. While I was eventually promoted for my hard work and dedication, cold calling is truly where I wanted to be.
The world of sales looks a lot different from the outside than it does on the inside. What I have learned is to have patience with and respect for the situations of others. Just because I want a deal to close doesn’t mean that my prospect isn’t moving offices and can’t talk about this for the next few months. This attitude towards prospects, which is a simple consideration, leads to great success. And it makes sense! With a world full of inconsiderate salespeople, it’s an easy way to stand out.
Being a cold caller means pulling your weight by reaching out, and creating opportunities for your team. That being said, I admire anyone who can work deals to their close. It was not something that I ever felt comfortable with, and it’s this notion that is so different from the outsider’s perspective of sales. The diversity of positions and career trajectories in sales is vast. Sure, it’s not for everyone. But for those who would like to learn more, I would recommend having an open mind to their own potential, and to the roads that lie ahead of them.