A career in sales is just honing on what you already know! Image source: Bigstockphoto Image Credit and Copyright: © Rawpixel.com

A career in sales is just honing on what you already know! Image source: Bigstockphoto Image Credit and Copyright: © Rawpixel.com

There is no real art to selling - we all do it all the time without realizing it. From the time we apply to a kindergarten or high school, to university and finally for all the jobs in our career. We must present ourselves (our unique skills and character) and persuade a ‘buyer’ to take us on. And just like a brand, everything we do is intended to enhance our value. The more we beef up our brand (with educational and technical qualifications) the better our brand and greater the demand for our ‘product’.

The good, the bad and the ugly side of sales:

We sell people ideas – something as simple as convincing your mate to meet at the university pub or asking someone on a date. That is what sales is about – persuading a buyer to choose your product or service over that of others. This persuasion obviously can be genuine or unfortunately fraudulent. As illustrated in the 2013 Wolf of Wall Street movie is a testimony to how persuasion can be used effectively when capitalizing on with an inherent human trade - greed. Being truthful, however, (even if it means letting go of a sale) will determine whether you get repeat customers – something real salespeople are aware of. The revenue multiplying potential that repeat-customers can provide for your sales portfolio beats getting a quick fix by conning people no matter how big the ‘score’ is. To gain your customers trust whilst solving their problem sets a win/win relationship and a demand for your services.

There are several types of sales and depending on your character or style you will fit in within the following categories:

· Direct sales (shop salesperson or active door-to-door and the now almost extinct stock-broker);

· Inbound or Outbound sales (usually in a call-center setting selling software, insurance or banking packages);

· Wholesale and retail sales – large and bulk selling and supplying products to large stores (usually more senior sales personnel);

· Online sales and telemarketing – this is the strong glimpse into the future of sales that make the process of both selling and buying convenient via technology (automation) with forerunners like online shops like Amazon; eBay and Alibaba dominating this domain.

Some of the terminology you will come across include:

Pipeline (the whole batch of revenue accruing from a year or month’s sales); lead (a prospect’s contact details and basic information about their interest); opportunity (this is a lead that has been qualified to a potential sale with a quote – the last stage before the deal is closed); conversion (this is taking a prospective customer and turning their interest into an opportunity or sale); KPIs (key performance indexes - used to combine the individuals overall performance based on their conversion rate, monthly or weekly sales and other rates including how many products they sell as well as time taken per interaction).

Figuring out the know-how and be inspired:

Naturally, there are many books and motivational sales speakers out there as the act of selling is more of an art that is learned by doing rather than studying it in theory or by coursework. As a matter of fact, studying sales courses in university is rare – the closest to selling as a course will be doing is via a degree in Commerce and taking electives in marketing. Marketing goes hand in hand with sales especially when it comes to learning about concepts such as the consumer black box.

There are some great movie classics to spur your interest in the trade such as The Big Kahuna, Moneyball, Lord of War and a subtler struggle to be a salesman played by Will Smith in the based on the true story of a man determined to be a stockbroker in the film  In Pursuit of Happyness.

So hurry up and get going because in sales time is money:

Learn and speak to experienced sales executives, understand your customers and most importantly jump into the deep end and learn by doing!

Sales form an integral component of any company balance sheet and though not a fixed asset and hopefully not a liability, it is an integral component of a business’s cash-flow. Without liquidity, no matter how asset-rich or even if your business was listed on a local exchange, without a good cash flow driven by constant sales, one would soon find oneself selling shares/stock or worse yet, assets to meet daily operational demands. Selling is the lifeblood of any business – so if you are not making any sales, you’re probably out of business!