My first ever job was in sales. I came to Poland in late 2012 to pursue my bachelor studies. Why Poland? Well, that’s a story for another time…
The Very Beginning
I didn’t have a lot of money on me, €1000 in total and since I don’t come from a well off family I knew I had to find a job quickly in order to pay for my expenses. Needless to say, one month of living in Poland and I was nearing the end of my precious €1000. So, I started looking for a job. Any job. There was one huge caveat, I didn’t speak the Polish language.
After applying for over 400 jobs and not hearing a peep from any of the applications I sent over. I thought this was it, I’m going to have to go back to Pakistan and live with my parents. That thought scared the living crap out of me.
I kept searching for a job, from Mcdonalds to tutoring kids with English. I just wanted a job, any job that can help me pay my 470 PLN ($120) rent for the dorm room that I lived in.
Lo and behold, three months into the job search, I get an email in my inbox.
To this day, that email was the most surreal one ever to have landed in my inbox. It came out of nowhere, totally unexpected and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. I will always and forever be grateful to Bartosz Mozyrko for giving me that amazing opportunity. He quite literally saved my ass. I am where I am because of that man.
I landed the job as an SDR/Account Exec hybrid at UsabilityTools. My first ever (sales) job. My sales career had just begun.
I worked with UsabilityTools for 3 years. From 13 hour workdays to doing demos at 3 am. It was all a great experience and taught me a lot of things. I got promoted to Head of Sales mid-way through my tenure, got a chance to build my own team and sell that amazing product until I eventually moved on to greener pastures.
I’ve been working in sales for almost 7 years now, and here are some of the things this profession has taught me and why I believe sales is the perfect first job anyone can ever have.
I was in no way a patient person, mix that with competitiveness and you’ve got yourself a very potent mix. Sales taught me how to be patient not only in my professional life but also personal. Ever heard of the impression, “all good things come to those who wait”?.
It can’t hold truer when it comes to sales. Ask anyone who works in sales and they will tell you it can take a long time for deals to close. Often times prospects become unresponsive even though it felt like it was a done deal.
When it starts to happen on a weekly basis, you either accept it as an occupational hazard and learn to be patient or it will drive you insane. No sale is ever simple, it takes work from your end and a whole lot of patience otherwise you can make the prospect feel very uneasy and risk losing the deal.
Especially with all the tracking in place today, seeing when prospects open your emails, it can become very frustrating if they open the emails and not reply. The objective is to keep following up but at the same time give the prospect some breathing room.
Patience is the 🔑 and you gotta trust the process.
It will teach you to be persistent
A sales job is tough work, often very one-sided. You might not hear back from the prospect but you just have to keep on trying and be persistent in getting in touch with them.
The dream of every salesperson is to find the perfect prospect and close the biggest deal as quickly as possible. The ultimate goal would be to have it all happen in one demo meeting!
We all know that the reality of sales is very different. Studies have shown that only about 2% of sales will close on the first meeting. That is a pretty low percentage.
What that means, is that you need to continue to follow-up with the prospect. One or two sales calls or a couple of follow-up emails will not make the sale. You need to continually follow up with the prospect until they are open to buying.
It is very important that you be persistent. You need to be determined and resolute about making the sale. You don’t want to feel like a stalker but persistence is not annoying or aggravating. It’s very often appreciated from the prospect as it keeps you on top of their mind. Only the ones who are persistent survive in this business.
It teaches you how to handle rejection
I still remember the days of cold calling. Rejection after rejection, hang-ups, voicemails, not interested were some of the most common themes of the day. It is soul-crushing work, but sales are all about rejection. You could get 99 “no’s” in a row only to get that one “yes” that can make it all worth it.
There are very few jobs that are more of a grind than sales. But, if you can get through the first few years and learn from it, you’ll be able to withstand almost anything that gets thrown your way later in your career.
Rejection is an occupational hazard when you’re in a sales job. Make peace with it and chase that one “yes”, the more the rejections, that one sale or “yes” will be that much sweeter.
It keeps you sharp and hungry
I love quotas (targets). In sales, you almost always will carry a quota. Working with a target at hand, that too a $ value really gives you the “eye of the tiger”.
I have seen salespeople crush their quota month over a month and still strive to hit their targets faster than ever in the upcoming month. There is something about hitting your quota that keeps salespeople sharp and constantly hungry for more.
Commissions also play a big role here, the more goals hit = more money 💰. That drive and motivation along with the discipline needed in sales is something that will always keep you sharp on your feet and always wanting more. Which in sales can be a very good thing.
It helps your negotiation skills (a lot)
At my first ever job interview I almost choked when the interviewer asked me “how much would you like to earn”?
Negotiations aside, I barely made it out of the call alive due to the stress.
Negotiating is part and parcel of sales, you will negotiate with prospects almost on a daily basis. It only harnesses your ability to negotiate in the future, it’s helpful in all kinds of personal situations throughout life including buying a car, a house, getting a job, or perhaps starting your own company and hiring your own employees.
Negotiations can be stressful, but if done on a daily basis, the “boogeyman effect” of it vanishes really quickly. I never thought I would ever be able to “walk away” from a negotiation but being in sales for this long, I’m no longer willing to accept any curveball a prospect throws at me. If demands become unreasonable or unprofitable for my company, I’m not afraid to walk away from the deal.
That is a very valuable skill, one I can’t stress enough that everyone should master, which comes pro-bono with sales.
Lastly, Sales is a skill you’ll always use
Being able to sell means being able to communicate effectively, make connections and look for positive outcomes.
Pretty much everyone is in sales; some are just much better at it than others. Sales help you to provide value, be an advocate, a trusted advisor, and educate our customers on the impact we can deliver. Whether we are selling products, services, ideas, or positions, we are selling because what we do solves problems. We are selling to bring value.
Even if you work in sales for a short period of time, it’s still worth it as it will have a major (positive) impact in your professional and personal life. Sales also happen to be the perfect cure for shyness. You’ll learn to step forward with confidence, especially under duress or in a crisis.
So go out there and get that job in sales and learn how to sell.
It’s the best investment you will ever make.