January 25, 2013
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Career path uncertain? Try sales

I went to a talk recently on the topic of persuasive sales techniques, and interestingly,  the speaker started out by making a bold statement: everyone is a salesperson.

Everyone’s eyebrows suddenly started arching towards the ceiling like Eugene Levvy’s. What came to my mind was an image of that stereotypical tacky-dressed salesman who will bully you or attempt to trick you into buying something!

So, as I looked at my tasteful outfit and perfectly normal eyebrows, I wondered how is it possible that everyone is a sales person?

The speaker elaborated that ‘selling’ is basically persuading someone else to do something. He pointed out that even though you might not be a salesperson by title, everyone may try to persuade a coworker, convince your boss you deserve a raise, or even convince your kids to do chores from time to time.

I looked around the room to see if anyone else had just been blindsided with that logic. I wasn’t alone – a lot of heads were nodding in affirmation.

As I prepared to write this blog post my mind wandered back to my college days when our marketing instructor asked how many of us planned to go into sales after graduation – none of us raised our hands. That may have been the case at the beginning, but over the course of the semester a transformation took place — a lot of people in the class realized they were persuasive and personable enough to at least try a sales career. I was one of them, and thank goodness I went to class every day because now, in addition to my blogging duties and newsletter writing, I handle sales requests from customers looking for event management software. Since then, I’ve learned that selling isn’t about talking and manipulating, it’s about listening and asking great questions.  Selling isn’t about taking, it’s about giving!

More than ever, North American schools have seen an increase in their graduating students and are preparing them to successfully enter the workforce. Many students participate in regional and business plan challenges, where lessons about sales are taught to them even from grades K-12, not just in starting in business school!

So, if there’s any free advice I can give a student who is looking toward the spring and wondering what career path to choose, it could be sales.

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