If you’re looking to switch careers, you’re not alone. According to a recent Harris poll, half of working Americans want to make a career change. Sales can be a rewarding and lucrative new career path, because sales leaders are often willing to take a risk on candidates with no sales experience, if they demonstrate desire, innovative thinking and drive.
If you’re looking to make a career transition to sales, incorporate these tactics early in the process, and they can help you land a great sales position that could set you up for a successful new career.
Don’t be afraid to take a step back, in order to take two steps forward.
Don’t let your ego get in the way by expecting to land a senior position right off the bat. Be open to entry-level sales jobs such as Business Development or Sales Development Representative positions (these positions are generally lead generation roles that are considered entry-level sales jobs). Depending on the company, these roles are a great way to learn incredibly important sales skills that you will use throughout your career, and they can also be a pathway to a more senior position. Especially if you already have experience in other areas, you can advance quickly after you learn the ropes as a BDR or SDR.
Nail your interview.
It’s impossible to be over prepared for your sales interview. Especially if you don’t have any sales experience to rely on, your interview will be a crucial way to convince a hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the role. Remember, the interviewer is using this meeting to determine whether you are a fit for the role and for the company, so come prepared with reasons why you have the potential to be an A player. This could include soft skills; relevant skills like a foreign language or tech knowledge; a passion for what the company does; a winning personality; or more.
Apply for sales internships.
Sales internships are a great way to gain valuable experience and learn sales tools and processes. They can also help you determine what type of sales role you may be interested in, so you’re targeting the right job. If you can’t find an internship that fits, or if there is a particular company you know you want to work for, don’t be afraid to connect with sales leaders directly and ask if they are open to an intern or simply need assistance. You may be surprised; sales leaders love proactive engagement. It shows you’re eager to do what it takes to succeed – an essential quality for a strong sales career.
Invest in sales-related coursework.
Check your local colleges and universities to see if they offer sales-related courses. If they don’t, look online at online universities and for standalone courses. There are also many companies that offer targeted sales training for individuals just getting started in sales. Most are online, and they are industry specific. Having this learning experience on your resume is a great way to show you’re seriously interested in a sales career, and it also keeps your resume from looking too bare or irrelevant.
Network in friends/co-workers who are in sales
Use your network. Are any friends or current or former colleagues in sales? Are they at companies hiring for salespeople? A warm referral is much more effective than a cold application, and many companies also have employee referral programs, which means employees are eager to find someone to fill open roles. Employee referrals make up 40% of new hires, and are also four times more likely to be hired, meaning you have a better chance not only of finding an open position but of landing it. Companies love relying on referrals, because it cuts down their recruiting costs.
Look for companies that are aggressively hiring.
If a company is aggressively hiring for sales, it probably means they have several open roles at once and are in a phase of rapid growth. Target companies that are ramping their sales teams. These companies often have great sales training programs and may be willing to take someone who is transitioning careers and new to sales. Venture-backed and private equity-backed businesses are great places to start looking for growing companies.
If you’re looking for a new career, sales could be the perfect industry for you. With a little drive and perseverance, you can land a great sales job at any stage of your career.
Ready to move to the interview phase? Check out Three Sales Interview Essentials That You Should Never Neglect