You might be surprised what is considered a sales position, if you are looking for a career in sales. I’ve done sales a couple of times in my career, with varying success. I can tell you exactly why. So, what is considered a sales position?
I think being cut out for sales is every bit as important as experience. You can turn any role into a sales job. Then, in your interview, your job is to sell your experience to land that job.
Are you sure you can handle a sales job?
My hiring manager asked me if I could handle a sales job before he hired me. He believed me. “Give me a quality product that I understand, and I can sell it,” I said. I related the story of selling computers at retail at age 19 and 20. I could sell Compaq computers all day. Packard Bells, not so much. I wanted to sleep at night.
The problem with me in sales roles is that I’m an introvert. After I send someone a quote, I don’t relish hounding them until the purchase order shows up. I’ll demo the product if someone’s interested in it. I’m happy to talk about the problem it solves or why it’s better than others. Some people are natural salespeople. I have to work at it quite a bit.
Either approach can work. I’ve seen technical people turn into successful salespeople. I’ve seen outgoing types learn the product well enough to sell it.
What counts as sales experience
Anywhere that sells things can count as sales experience, as long as you have contact with the customers. Taking orders at a fast-food restaurant is relevant. Managers push suggestive selling, When someone orders a soda, does it come naturally for you to ask, “Was that a large?”
If you want to transition from a restaurant to sales, try this. The next shift you work, find out what your sales were. My manager used to tell me, but that was years ago. Write the number down. The next time you work the same shift, try to upsell every order. Find out how much you sold at the end. Was it five percent more? Ten? See if you can reach five or ten percent and hold it consistently.
In a restaurant with table service, the same thing works, but requires more creativity than in a fast-food joint where you order a la carte. Look over your restaurant’s menu and look for opportunities to upsell, and track how you do.
Now you have an accomplishment. When you interview for that sales job, point out how much you increased sales after some random blog suggested you try to upsell every order.
In retail, the same thing works. If you sell hardware, when someone buys a light switch, ask if they need a new unbreakable cover plate to go with it. Every store has things that go together. Sell the things that go together. A mantra in sales is “sell one more.” If you can sell one more in retail, you can do it business-to-business too.