In India, sales is considered one of the difficult and bad careers. There are lots of Universities teaching everything from Engineering to Management, from Medicine to Law, and even vocational training. There are always enough people to learn such things and even if they don’t get great placement. However, you will almost never find a course that teaches you how to sell. Have you heard of a course called Master of Sales? Master of Sales Administration? Bachelor of Sales Management? Bachelor of Telemarketing? Master of Inside Sales?
Why not? We have engineers who find no placement. On the other hand, the industry is desperate to hire good sales people but they do not find trained sales people. It is a sad situation and a huge reason for slowing down of Indian economy.
This is a big contrast with the situation in America. In USA, you can get even private tuition for learning sales. There are massive organizations that are geared towards teaching people how to be great at sales. Being good at sales means living a rich life. People get it, aspire for it, and make a career in it. Great salespeople are considered heroes and are featured in magazines. There are even world records by sales persons in the Guiness Book. There are million dollar companies in most of the developed countries that just focus on sales training for real estate agents, selling software, pharmaceutical sales, or maybe sales of financial services.
A good sales person in the USA can easily earn 100,000 USD in a year, equivalent of INR 65 lakhs, which a doctor or a good software developer may earn. The great earn in millions. Here is a course for salespersons where a lot of industry data about how much salespeople in various industries earn in average is provided. Here is a Forbes article that also gives some amazing data about how much sales people earn.
There must be better careers than sales
This is the really funny part. In the most lucrative careers, not being good in sales is disastrous. Doctors, lawyers, consultants of any type, CEOs, models, bloggers, writers – they all better be good at sales, or they might find it difficult to succeed in their career beyond a point. If engineers, lawyers, managers or analysts want to be successful, they better have some solid sales chops. Here is a list of careers that are really hidden sales jobs. Legendary career advisor Harvey Mackay once said, “Everyone is in sales.” They may not realise though. And the truth is that most people are quite terrible at it.
How much can I get paid in India if I become awesome in sales?
You may think that India does not have high paying sales jobs. But that is absolutely untrue. Every industry needs more sales. Who do they need to make that happen? Most high profile sales jobs are not advertised. They happen like matchmaking for a prince or princess. Rather than putting out an advertisement, some well known headhunters are paid to approach suitable candidates and woo them.
Salary of an experienced sales person can be very high. This is because they are usually paid a percentage of what they earn in terms of business. Imagine – if you can bring business of 5 crore in a year, why will your employer hesitate to give you 15 lakhs out of it? Now imagine that someone comes and shows that he can increase it from 5 Cr to 6 Cr, a 20% jump. If he asks from a 20 lakhs salary, will your company refuse it? Also, keep in mind that due to stigma and lack of proper training, there are very few good sales people in India, so they are always in very high demand. For example, people who work for social media agencies or ad agencies in sales can easily charge upto 2 lakhs per month if they can show that they have the experience and track record.
To get an idea about what sort of sales jobs are publicly available, I did a search on naukri.com on 23rd of March, 2018, and here is what I found.
Yes, there are a few low paying jobs that pay between INR 3-6 lakhs a year, but most of the sales jobs being advertised in India on Naukri.com, posted in the last 30 days, are in the INR 15-25 lakhs per year bracket. The number of jobs in the 25-50 lakhs bracket is also quite substantial. If you do well in sales, you could reach there in 7-10 years, as described in the job descriptions of these roles.
One of my former mentors is amazing at real estate sales. He runs a company called Space Creators, and their firm is usually hired by big real estate developers when they have to sell premium properties. If you look at his office, your eyes may pop out like mine did.
Also keep in mind that sales is a global skill. If you are a good sales person in India, you can probably be as good in the USA, UK, Dubai or Singapore as well, as long as you can speak the language. The best of the best Indian salespersons often just migrate to economies that pay more and offer better lifestyle. It is next to impossible for a lawyer, journalist, architect or doctor to do so, but good salespeople are treated very differently. Their mobility and demand in the market is a thing of envy for those who are in the know.
Non-monetary reasons to embrace sales as a career
Non-stop Personal growth
If you are into sales and you do well over a period of time, I can guarantee you non-stop personal growth. There are so many different types of people you will encounter, so many barriers, so many challenges – that it is not possible to do well in sales without focussing on growing yourself as a person. Whatever limitations you may have – lack of patience, anger issues, self-esteem issues, lack of persistence, lack of social intelligence, lack of focus, attention deficit, lack of charisma, problem with public speaking, fear of clowns, problem with authority figures – whatever it may be, you will have to work on each and every limitation and sort them out to continue to grow as a sales person.
There is perhaps no job other than sales that bring you in front of your worst insecurities, fears, rejections and failures every day. To survive all that and then to succeed one has to continuously strive for buddhahood.
Can you stay calm and genuinely peaceful when a dishonest customer tries to fool you and then shout at you for no reason? Can you win him over to become a fan of yours and your brand?
Can you get a terrible rejection and then again pick up the phone and talk to another person and make them feel that they are on top of the world? Can you love and respect customers who avoid your follow ups, break promises, pretend to know things they don’t, and behave as if you are their slave?
Can you charm people all day and make them realise things that they do not realise about themselves? Can you lead people to take good decisions for themselves when they have given up on their own career? Can you take a person in depression and make her believe in herself and the world once more? Can you make a clueless kid remember the dreams he has forgotten?
Sales is not a sales job. It is a leadership job. You make people realise what is possible. You make people inspired to take a step towards what they want to achieve. You make them believe in their own dreams. You make them dream again where they are desperate.
I bet you will face all that if you do sales. That is why lesser mortals run away from sales – they don’t have the courage or the stomach to digest such experiences. It takes immense courage to stick to sales. And you need a lion’s heart (or a lioness’) to succeed in sales.
If you think sales is about calling people and annoying them, or badgering them or begging them to take your product or services, please go find another job.
There is never a dull day
Work in sales never gets boring because people are different and they will always throw new challenges at you. Hence, you must stay sharp and think on your feet. You cannot memorise some lines and say to everyone the same thing and call yourself a salesperson. That would be disgrace to sales. Sales requires one to master the art of persuasion. And the art of dealing masterfully with a constant stream of surprises. Every person you sell to or fail to sell to will give you unique experiences to learn from.
You become an excellent conversationalist
Surviving in a sales job means you push your boundaries every day and become really good having amazing conversations. This makes you an attractive personality. This also helps you to develop leadership and charisma. If you want to improve your conversation skills, sales is the best job.
A huge complain of the people of Generation Z is that when they join a job they find that they are a cog in the wheel, that their work is not meaningful or satisfying. This always happens because in most jobs there is not much scope to take initiatives. Taking initiatives outside one’s boundaries can be looked at negatively at some places too. However, that’s not the case with sales. Everything anyone cares about is getting the numbers. If you take initiative and make dollars roll in, you are the boss. How to take initiatives all the time is an amazing skill that every salesperson must learn.
Sales jobs are safest jobs
Imagine the company you are in is not doing well financially. Who will they fire first? Non-performing employees. What if there are no non-performing employees? What is to be done in that case? Whoever they may fire, they are not going to fire sales people. They might hire more, give you more budget – because in times of troubles companies must focus more on sales, not curtail it.
Quick reward and fast growth
If you want to grow fast and live well in life quickly, sales is probably the best job. If you don’t perform well, it is difficult to hide if you are doing a sales job. Similarly, it is difficult to deny you rewards if you do well as a salesperson. Salary and stature of good sales people rise very fast compared to those in other professions.
Unlimited job opportunities
Sales is the most critical function is almost every company. People do not shy away from hiring more salespeople. Every business needs them. There is no industry where sales people are not needed. You can find sales jobs at every level of salary, responsibility, designation and there is no shortage of opportunities for people who know how to sell things. Especially if they can show that they have a proven track record of good sales behind them.
Sales is also a relatively high turnover field, so new positions are constantly opening up. Try not to see the turnover as a bad thing. Look at it as an opportunity. If you’re good in sales, there will always be a job for you.
Derivatives of sales jobs
If you know how to sell, there are a number of things you can do around it even if you do not want to do sales forever. You could do sales coaching, run a sales consultancy or analytics firm, build sales related software, become in-house sale trainer or sale manager, or the go to guy to build sales and distribution infrastructure in a new territory or work for a startup.
These skills are transferable
There is perhaps no profession where sales skills are not useful. If you learn sales and then later decide to do something else, your skills will still remain very useful for you. This is provided that you managed to develop any good skills to speak of 😀
However, if you have learned things like the art of persuasion, art of figuring out what the person across the table really needs by asking a few right questions, the art of listening actively, the habit of building a network and keeping in touch with prospects, the skill of following up – these are all invaluable abilities in today’s economy for leaders of every field.
This is why, many people advice ambitious youngsters to take sales as the first job after graduation no matter what they want to do later.
The key to success is failing again and again but trying again as if you never failed. Successful people are like machines that learn from every failure but do not get bogged down. From Thomas Alva Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Beatles, Gandhi or Michael Jordan – they have failed again and again but risen higher right after that because they never gave up. If you want to learn this mindset, sales is amazing training ground. You become rejection proof because you learn how to go through 9 nos unaffected to get that one yes, but giving your best to all of those 10 calls nonetheless.