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Your First Sales Job: What to Expect and Tips for Success


August 25th, 2023

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Starting your first sales job can be equal parts exciting, and daunting. On the one hand, sales can be a highly lucrative career. You can earn a significant income through salary and commissions, develop endless new skills, and build relationships with all kinds of different people.

On the other hand, achieving high levels of sales success isn’t always easy, and the path to greatness can be stressful, particularly for a beginner. Even the top salespeople in the world feel overwhelmed at times. While it’s difficult to predict exactly what your career in sales might look like, you can get a basic idea of what to expect. Here’s what you need to know. 

Getting Started in Sales: The Value of a Sales Mindset

One of the best things about this career path is virtually anyone can get started in sales. In fact, you can even find an entry-level sales job with no experience, and no specific credentials. In most roles, if you start small, you’ll learn crucial skills over time, from your boss, and other sales professionals. 

The more time you spend practicing things like cold calling, building rapport, and using different sales strategy methods, the more you’ll evolve in your career. However, there is one thing you do need to cultivate before you dive into this landscape: the right mindset

A significant part of sales success comes from how you think about the world and your role. The right mindset is what helps you overcome objections from prospects, deal with rejection, and keep pushing yourself to achieve new goals. The key components of a good sales mindset include:

  • Purpose: Your purpose as a salesperson isn’t just to make money. Often, it’s deeper things that will drive you, like a desire to connect with people or share knowledge with others.
  • Authenticity: Being genuine is crucial in sales. It’s how you ensure you can build rapport with prospects and form deeper relationships with your peers. 
  • Consistency: Good salespeople know how to keep pushing forward. You need resilience to overcome failures and objections, and ensure you don’t take rejection seriously.
  • Creativity: You’re a seller of solutions, not products. That means you need to find ways of creatively pitching your products or services to different customers. 
  • Courage: Anyone who’s ever worked in sales knows that courage is crucial. If you want to thrive in this role, don’t be afraid of failure, taking risks, or thinking outside of the box.

What to Expect from your First Sales Job

If you’ve already cultivated the right mindset, you should find that thriving in your new sales team should be a lot easier. However, it’s worth remembering there is a significant learning curve to sales. Here are some of the top things you can expect when you start your new career:

  1. Constant learning

Sales professionals are often lifelong learners. They’re constantly developing new skills to help improve their sales performance and unlock new opportunities. However, if you don’t have any experience in sales already, then you can expect your first year to involve various types of education.

You might be given formal training on the sales skills you need to use, or be partnered with a mentor or buddy to guide you. You may even take part in a lot of role-based educational activities, to help teach you strategies for customer service, pitching, and cold calling.

  1. A Salary that Grows

As mentioned above, salespeople can earn a fantastic salary. In the US, the average sales rep earns about $61,081 per year. However, if you’re just getting started in your first role, you shouldn’t expect to earn the same as the top sales performer on your team straight away. 

Depending on the salary strategy your company uses, you may earn a regular income, or your income might be determined by your sales performance and accomplishments. If you’re not getting much in the way of commissions straight away, stay positive. Remember you’ll be able to earn more as your skills and experience develop. 

  1. Pressure (and Stress)

Although there are plenty of sales professionals out there who love their work, it’s worth remembering that your first sales job can be pretty stressful. You’re going to spend a lot of time dealing with complex things, learning how to follow new methodologies, and trying to hit targets. 

You may need to jump into situations you’ve never encountered before, and deal with angry or difficult clients. You’re also going to be held accountable for your actions and revenue, which can be a stressful position for any newcomer to be in. 

  1. Flexibility 

One of the great things about a job in sales is it’s always changing and evolving. No two days are alike, and you may even find that you have a lot of flexibility in your role. You might be able to choose your own hours, decide where you want to work, and even travel the world. 

Just keep in mind this high level of flexibility also means you need to take accountability for your day, and how you use your time. It’s up to you to ensure you’re getting the most out of every hour you spend in or out of the office. 

Achieving Sales Success: Top Tips for Beginners

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for achieving success in a sales role. Sales is a career that’s all about growth and development. Nobody starts this career with all the knowledge and skills they need. If you choose the right company to work with, your boss should be able to give you guidance in the initial months and years to push you in the right direction. 

However, there are some other tips you can follow to boost your chances of success too, such as:

  • Embrace lifelong learning: As mentioned above, the top performers in sales are the people who take a lifelong approach to learning. If your sales role doesn’t offer on-the-job training, seek out opportunities to grow yourself. Join platforms like the Hard Skill Exchange, earn certifications relevant to your position, and constantly ask questions. 
  • Hone your soft skills: While technical skills are sometimes crucial in sales, it’s your soft skills that really make all the difference. If you can learn how to communicate effectively, validate the right leads, and research your prospects, you’ll be more likely to achieve your goals. Organizational and problem solving skills can be useful too. 
  • Find a mentor: One way to consistently improve your sales skills, and manage your first few years in the role effectively, is to get a mentor. The right mentor can help you to navigate the challenges you face in your career. They can also give you someone to confide in when you’re struggling with problems, or celebrate with when you achieve your goals. 
  • Learn how to listen: It’s easy to assume sales is all about “talking” or pitching, but most of the magic actually comes from your ability to listen. Listening to other sales professionals, your customers, and your peers will give you endless opportunities to grow. Active listening can also help you to build rapport with your leads. 
  • Seek feedback: Negative feedback is sometimes difficult to hear, but any form of feedback can be valuable to your sales career. It helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, so you know where you should be focusing your effort. Regularly request constructive feedback from your peers, your mentor, and your boss. 
  • Stay positive: Remember, sales can be a stressful and exhausting career choice. It’s important to stay positive in the face of failures, rejections, and other issues. Maintaining a positive mindset, and reminding yourself of your accomplishments will keep you motivated.

Mastering your First Sales Job

Once you’ve successfully earned your first sales job, you’ll discover your future has limitless potential. Even the highest-earning top performers in the world needed to start somewhere. Like you, many of the industry greats began their role nervous and uncertain. 

However, with the right sales mindset, and the tips above, you can start paving the way for a successful career instantly. Remember, you can also get behind-the-scenes advice to help you thrive in your first sales role from the Hard Skill Exchange

Join our platform to learn from sales professionals from every walk of life, and start building a successful sales network. 

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