As a fresh graduate or experienced professional looking for how to start a career in the sales field, this series will explain what  you need to know and how to get started. Sales is fundamental to every business, most businesses won’t survive without a proper and effective sales department. Whether you want to be a salesperson or in any other career field you need to fully understand the fundamental process of sales.

Sales as a career field is fast growing. Almost all companies require salespersons because many competitive products or services come up on a daily basis and they need sales department to remain competitive. Sales is a very difficult field to automate because it requires a lot of human interaction; this makes it almost impossible to be fully replaced by robots. Automation in sales is more likely to replace tedious tasks that don't require the human touch in order to be executed to perfection.

As a salesperson or aspiring sales professional the ability to understand both technology and the human connection is what truly differentiates you from the rest.

Strategic Sales Foundation course

How to Begin a Career in Sales

To start a career in you have to first understand what sales is all about. Sales is a term used to describe the activities that lead to the selling of goods or services or the exchange of  value for money. In simple terms, every activity we engage in to sell a good or service is described as sales.

A sales professional is someone who sells products or services to potential customers. They bridge the gap between customer needs and the product/service that fulfils that need.

Roles of a Sales Professional in an Organisation

A sales professional handles the following duties in an organisation;

Prospecting: Sometimes a sales person is expected to identify potential customers or prospects and may require to build an ideal client persona. This is more expected in B2B sales where the sales professional may have to identify and qualify which enterprise or businesses could be good prospects to sell to.

Lead Conversions: Usually companies generate leads (prospective customers) through their advertising or marketing efforts. After this process, it is the responsibility of salespeople to deal with already warmed up prospects and close the deal by introducing further information to encourage the customer to make the decision.

Business Growth: Sales professionals play an important role in the building of loyalty and trust between customer and business. During sales interactions, sales professionals can improve trust and loyalty by the way they relate with existing and potential customers. They can also encourage the customers to recommend and give a positive feedback can have an impact on the growth of the business through increased brand awareness and sales. Trust and loyalty are the main reasons why a customer would choose to recommend a company to a friend or family member or write a great review of a product or service online.

Customer Retention and Support: Sales professionals are usually the first point of contact for most companies. They receive and respond to customer complaints and resolve them as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Great salespeople are those that not only make the sale but create a long-lasting impact on the customer. Long term customer relationships lead to repeat customers, referrals and increase the brand’s reputation by word of mouth.

Develop, implement and track sales strategies and goals, with different markets and sales modes.

Create strategies to make sales with new and existing customers and to expand markets.

Collaborate with marketing department to develop and implement inbound and outbound sales techniques, also giving feedback on effectiveness of marketing campaigns

Track and Identify sales patterns with regard to sales representatives, marketing effort, customer, mode of sale and product.

Hire, onboard, train and manage sales representatives or other salespersons

Now you have an idea about some of the duties of the sales department in an organisation, the next thing is to know the skills you need to succeed.

Skills & Tools to Succeed in Sales Career

Effective Communication

As a sales professional you will be interacting with a lot of people in the course of your job. To succeed as a sales professional you must know how to communicate effectively within your workplace and with our effective communication in the workplace course, you will learn how you can communicate with existing  and prospective customers.

Active Listening

You should be able to listen to customers with a strict focus and ask intelligent follow-up questions. Great listening skills can help sales professionals empathise with prospects to learn more about their business and pain points.

Product Knowledge

You need to understand the product you will sell, its value and the reasons it appeals to prospective customers.

Strategic Research and Prospecting Skills

Prospecting is the process of initiating and developing new business by searching for potential customers, clients, or buyers for your products or services. You must know how to research and identify quality prospects with better chances of converting them into revenue-generating customers.

Time Management

As a sales person, you have to learn how to effectively manage your time efficiently so that you don’t end up wasting too much time on deals that are not profitable. With proper time management, you can reach more prospects and close more deals.

Presentation Skill

Presenting information clearly and effectively is a key skill to get your message or opinion across when interacting with potential customers. Presentation skills cover a variety of areas such as the structure and design of your presentation, the tone of your voice and your body language.

Basic Computer Skills

As a sales person, you should be able to use the following word processing and data analysis packages such as:

Microsoft Word: Microsoft Word is used heavily in the sales department. You will use it to draft documents like the proposals, training materials, and internal memos.

Microsoft Excel: You will use Microsoft Excel to handle sales reports, projections and other documentation involving sales.

Microsoft Powerpoint: While handling training and onboarding process or when presenting proposals to prospects, you will use PowerPoint to create presentations.

CRM Tools: To manage your prospects better and handle your sales activities a proper understanding of how Customer relationship management (CRM) tools work is essential.

You will also need training in sales to help you acquire the above skills and understand art and science of selling, emotional intelligence, leadership, relating with customers, handling objections and closing sales and many more. The Strategic Sales Foundation course is a good place to start.

Job Prospects and Earnings in Sales

Sales is like oxygen to most organisations. Demand for sales positions will keep increasing. Sales professionals work in several industries like Financial, Oil and Gas, Engineering, FMCG, Education, Construction, Real Estates and many more.

Entry-level sales professionals in Nigeria earn between N50,000 and N150,000 monthly, while mid-level sales professionals earn between N175,000 and N450,000 monthly and senior-level sales professionals earn over N450,000 monthly. Note, this doesn’t cover commissions the salespersons earn, which can run into millions on a monthly basis.

Whether you decide to start in a call centre or in retail, in a commission-based position or a position with base pay, you should try and start  your career with a company that values your growth.

Are Certifications Required to start a career in Sales?

Certifications are not required to start a career in Sales, however, as you go further you might need to acquire some certifications to help you progress your sales career and grow into senior roles.

There are several Sales certifications, some of them are

  • Institute of Certified Sales Professionals (ICSP)
  • Institute of Sales and Marketing Management of Nigeria(ISMMN)
  • Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP)
  • Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP)

Also, Skilled Sales professionals can potentially make more money than their unskilled peers. Our Strategic Sales Foundation course equips you with the right selling skills from expert instructors. After the Sales course you will not only understand how to perform as a sales professional but you will unlock the ability to earn far more than you do currently working as a skilled sales man or woman.