A COMMON pressure fresh college graduates will have to face is finding the “right” first job. You would either be very set in pursuing your dream career or have no idea at all on what path to take. If you identify yourself as the latter description, then you might be experiencing a rather difficult time finding opportunities in entry-level openings. Reasons for rejections, such as “not being the right fit for the job,” will pop up a lot, but this does not mean that you are behind the curve. I know several alumni from my university who were able to land their dream jobs in distinguished firms and left months after to realize that they want something different.
When choosing your first job, the main priority should be its ability to force you out of your comfort zone to get your feet wet. Getting a job in sales can fulfill this role. It does not require a significant number of specific hard skills compared to other roles available and it provides a series of learning experiences that will aid in your future career path.
An avenue to develop interpersonal skills
In retrospect, I never thought I would go for a sales position after college. I have always had this notion that a great salesperson should emulate the charismatic aggressiveness of Jordan Belfort in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” While I was someone who is miles away from the level of Belfort, I was able to develop my own sales identity that complements my passive personality.
In my case, I can get anxious easily when trying to sell to someone who I know is not interested in buying the product. The gut response that won’t work most of the time is to hard-sell the customer without getting to know their reason first. A response that was both effective and fitting for my personality was the skill of probing for key information instead of asserting yourself.
To illustrate an example, say a couple is arguing, it would not be ideal to shove your point at your partner without hearing them out first. Maybe the other person was just upset because of an unflushed toilet and nothing more. Comparably in selling, you will need information on why your client is not interested before setting a course of action. Is it because they already have a provider or do they find your pricing too high? Navigate through their demands first and create a workaround pitch for that.
There are several other skills that you can learn in sales that can work hand in hand with your personality. You do not have to be a Jordan Belfort to excel in sales.
You get to be comfortable being uncomfortable
I would be lying if I say that sales is an easy job. It is not likely to secure your first sale without being yelled at by a customer. I was anxious on my first day when we were tasked to cold call 40 leads per day with the prospect of having an unpleasant customer experience in one of those calls. Calling 40 strangers per day seemed like an impossible feat to me, but as months went by it slowly became ingrained in my routine.
Sales is a process where we test our limits to their breaking point. You got to put in the reps to experience painstaking moments that you have been constantly avoiding. Facing these intolerable moments daily will only aid you in the building of a more resilient mindset-where uncomfortable tasks will only start to feel menial to you. Getting rejected after calling 40 leads? Great. You get to improve your pitch on the next call.
Having the courage to integrate uncomfortable moments into your day-to-day activities will only develop you as a person even further. It might sound masochistic, but it pays dividends in the long run.
A chance to expand your horizons
I did connect with more than a hundred micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) during my first few months in my first job. In my case, I get to listen to the stories of different business owners and how they have weathered the pandemic. With the rise of online information, customers do not need sellers to find a solution to their challenges, but rather find a solution to their problem that they did not think there could be a solution to.
Despite its name, sales is not all about closing a sale to get your cut, but selling is a by-product of providing relevant solutions to the customer. Sellers are problem-solvers by nature, they will develop unique solutions for different types of customers. This is a chance to expand your area of expertise. There will be times when you have to act as a consultant, an industry expert and a marketer to empathize with the customer’s needs.
I imagine that there is a lot of people who feel lost on what job to pick. You still need to acknowledge that you are in the process of building yourself up. So, if you see an opening in a sales job on LinkedIn and never considered going into sales, then this might be your starting point. Ezol Ozan once said: “Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.”
Lance Atienza is an account manager at First Circle who joined the company in August 2021. He has experience in managing accounts and partnerships. To get in touch with Lance, you can email him at [email protected]