Getty Images

A Guide to Jobs (and Careers) in Sales

How are your powers of persuasion? If you answered "excellent," then a sales job could be right for you. As a sales person, you will have to get people, corporations, or organizations to buy goods or services from the company you represent. You can set your sights on working in a variety of industries including manufacturing, retail, information technology, agricultural, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, financial services, transportation, hospitality, and professional services.

Sales professionals can peddle many different products. Among the goods and services they sell are clothing, cars, stocks and bonds, drugs, medical equipment, insurance, computer technology, electronics, farm equipment, advertising space or time, livestock, vacations, and real estate. A sales person typically specializes in one industry or type of product.

Basic Facts About Sales Jobs

  • As of 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates over 14.5 million people worked in sales and related occupations. This figure does not include self-employed workers.
  • The job outlook for this field is good. The BLS expects five percent job growth in this field between 2014 and 2024, which is just about as fast as the average for all occupations. This will result in approximately 778,000 new sales jobs.
  • Sales workers and those employed in related occupations earned a median annual wage of $26,590 in May 2016. The annual wage for all occupations was $37,040, making earnings in this field a bit lower than in others.
  • An individual's compensation often includes a base salary plus a commission, which is typically calculated as a percentage of the sales one makes.

Is a Sales Job Right for You?

A career in sales, like any other occupation, isn't a good choice for everyone. It may or may not be right for you. Before you move forward, you should determine whether you have what it takes to succeed in this field. As mentioned earlier, to succeed in sales, you must be persuasive. Excellent communication skills are essential. You must be a good listener, as well as have the ability to communicate well verbally. Exemplary interpersonal skills will allow you to connect with others.

A commitment to working hard and a lot of patience are also needed. It sometimes takes a great deal of effort to close a sale, and you may have to patiently wait while a customer makes up his or her mind. Rejection is common, so you must be thick-skinned as well.

Sales Careers

What are your options if you want to pursue a career in sales? Several occupational titles fall under the sales umbrella. They involve working in a plethora of environments including retail stores and offices. People who work in these settings are said to be in inside sales. Some individuals who are employed in sales jobs meet with customers in their homes or businesses by appointment. Others go door-to-door, making unannounced visits to potential customers. This is called outside sales.

How to Choose a Good Sales Job

With so many industries and products from which to choose, how can you decide what to sell?

There are several criteria you should look at when selecting a sales job. You should consider potential income, your interest in the product you are selling, and job security when making a decision.

While earnings are not strictly correlated with job satisfaction, you will, of course, need to make a living. Jobs selling securities and commodities; other investment instruments; financial services; and resin, synthetic rubber, and artificial synthetic fibers and filaments manufacturing offer the best earning potential according to the BLS.

Having said that, if you have little interest in those products, it will affect your motivation. Less motivation will lead to fewer sales, which will, in turn, cause you to have lower earnings if your compensation includes a commission or to lose your job if your employer is dissatisfied with your performance. As important as it is to make a living, you should also think about your interest in the product you are selling.

Finally, you need to know you will be able to find employment.

If you are interested in a particular industry or type of product, but there are few jobs available, you should look for another area in which to work. Typically, the higher the demand for the product, the greater the job security of the workers who sell it. The most secure jobs are in the healthcare and information technology industries.

Education and Training

Your preparation for a sales job depends on the product you are selling. You may need no more than a high school diploma to sell some products, but if you are looking for a job hawking scientific or technical products, for example, employers will only hire job candidates who have a college degree. To sell insurance, you will also need a degree. A bachelor's degree is optional for advertising sales representatives, but earning one will significantly improve your chances of getting a job.

You might need a professional license, depending on the product you want to sell. For example, individuals who sell investment instruments, financial products, and insurance must be licensed.

How to Get a Sales Job

Whether you are looking for an entry-level position or a better job than your current one, there are sales-job specific sites that could have just the position you are seeking You can also use general employment sites like Indeed.com. Employers post openings directly to Indeed, and the site also gathers job listings from other job search sites, professional organizations, and company websites. Alternatively, you can upload your resume and employers will be able to find you when they are looking for someone with your qualifications.

Your professional network is an excellent resource for learning about employment opportunities. Widen your network by using an online networking site. The most well-known one is LinkedIn. You will be able to connect with other sales professionals or members of your network who know people who work in this field.

When an employer is considering you for a position, you will have to secure it by excelling on a job interview. The sales manager will ask you questions about your sales skills. He or she will also want to know about your strengths and weaknesses. Through your responses, you will have to demonstrate your ability to follow through and think on your feet.

Additional Sources:

"Occupational Employment and Wage, May 2016: Sales and Related Occupations (Major Group)." Occupational Employment Statistics (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 31, 2017).

"Paid to Persuade: Careers in Sales" Career Outlook (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 2011).

"Sales Occupations." The Occupational Outlook Handbook 2016-2017 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 17, 2015).

Learn More About Sales


where can i get a free birthday dinner how to find a job in college top daddy daughter wedding songs new at redbox this week how many numbers to win lottery math worksheets 6th grade printable salary for real estate agent how many years of school to become a pharmacist top daddy daughter wedding songs what is the maximum unemployment benefit in ma night jobs for college students 500 credit card limit for bad credit how to find rate of return why i want to be a pharmacist how to get rid of roaches the natural way how much unemployment benefits will i get easy designs for pumpkin carving how many pay weeks in a year harkins theater yuma palms movie times tax cut from paycheck calculator what degree do you need to become a nurse practitioner corporate taxation examples and explanations how many weeks in a year 2015 totally free credit score no credit card required rate on 10 year treasury s-corp vs llc tax calculator houses for sale by owner in michigan Best Potatoes for Storing Why Doesn't HGTV Give Away an Affordable Dream Home? Best Books on Writing Fiction FY 2014 U.S. Federal Budget and Spending A Well-Produced College Essay Video Can Produce Results Search Engine Optimization Tutorial and Tips - DIY SEO What are Liabilities in a Business? Sample Magazine Query or Pitch Letter Complete List of Exhange Traded Funds and Notes What Is a Retainer Fee for an Attorney? What Is a Registered Investment Advisor or RIA? Which Is First - Incorporation or Employer ID? Navy The Separation Between Church and Workplace Happyish The Comedy About Advertising We've Been Waiting For. Selling Before Buying a Home - Concurrent Closings 5 Ideas for Planning a Birthday Party 4 Grant Writing Tips From Prospecting to Final Draft 10 Things You Didn't Know Can Hurt Your Credit Score https://fthmb.tqn.com/eM4BpB5XJyYxp6_Dq7OfNEmZU7o=/768x0/filters:no_upscale()/about/113601060-56a59eb85f9b58b7d0ddab1c.jpg 200 ok image/jpeg 46303 Southern California Reaction to Terrorist Attack 5 1 Thumbor/6.0.1 00:00.113 utf-8 Definition of Improved Land in Real Estate Cosigning a Loan for Somebody? What you Need to Know Medical Billing Training Program Red-Flags You Should Avoid Benefits Survey Reveals the Big Four Emerging Health Care Trends YouTube Alternatives for Video Marketing How to Budget Holiday Gift Spending - Holiday Gift Spending Worksheet Walk Like a Supermodel in a Killer Pair of High Heels