Sales Career Path: Which Type of Sales Job is Right for You?



Sales Career Path: Which Type of Sales Job is Right for You?

A job in sales can offer tremendous benefits: outstanding earning potential, work flexibility, and the ability to shape-shift your career by transferring skills from one industry to another. Skilled sales professionals are continually in steady demand, making a sales career path a solid bet for job seekers looking to make full use of their people and communications skills, while growing their careers.

What does it take to succeed in sales jobs? A few of the key attributes successful sales people possess include top-notch interpersonal skills, an upbeat attitude, grace in handling setbacks and rejection, mastery of time management, competitive drive, and a healthy dose of self-confidence. Tasked with selling specific products or services to consumers or to other businesses, sales professionals also need in-depth familiarity with whatever it is they are selling.

Pay can be rewarding in many circumstances. According to PayScale, the average salary for a sales representative is $46,000 a year. However, a sales paycheck can vary greatly depending on factors like industry, base salary, and perhaps most important, commissions and bonuses, which can significantly boost yearly earnings.

FlexJobs members who’ve used our services to find flexible sales jobs have offered inspiring testimonials about their job search success. So if the idea of a sales career path piques your interest, read on for a broad overview of what a sales career can entail.

Getting Started in Sales

If you’re pondering a career in sales, one of the foremost things to consider is whether it’s a good fit for you. Are you an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert? Are you competitive? Do you cringe at the prospect of continuously meeting new people, making cold sales calls, or pushing assertively to close a sale? While aversion to any of those scenarios may not be a deal-killer for your sales career, it’s something to seriously consider before exploring a sales career path. Having the right personality traits for sales can have an outsize impact on your career success—and on your salary.

If you’re just getting started in sales, you may discover that educational requirements can vary widely. Said otherwise, while a college degree is desired by many employers, others may weigh relevant sales experience equally with educational background. However, a college degree in sales, marketing, business administration, or a related field can be advantageous, putting you ahead of the competition.

Formal education aside, many sales employers place a high value on on-the-job training, affording them the opportunity to school employees in procedures and policies specific to their company. Training on the job can also be a fantastic way to build knowledge about the goods and services you’ll be selling. That’s one reason entry-level sales jobs can be a good way to go if you’re just getting started on your sales career path.

Exploring The Different Types of Sales Jobs

A broad spectrum of industries offer sales jobs, including advertising, retail, travel, and wholesale and manufacturing, according to a ranking by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. To find the types of sales jobs that appeal to you, factor in the industry where you may have training or education, or where you have desire to establish a foothold that gets your sales career moving.

Your potential customers are another important factor to consider when looking at different types of sales jobs. For example, business-to-business (B2B) sales professionals focus on selling products primarily to other business enterprises. By contrast, business-to-consumer (B2C) salespeople generally sell products to outside consumers.

The list below is a sampling of sales categories in the FlexJobs database. The PayScale salaries represent average annual earnings, exclusive of potential commissions, bonuses, and profit sharing..

Targeting Your Sales Career

Where do you want to work? What kind of work environment appeals to you? Because there are many types of sales jobs, it’s helpful to know where you’d be most comfortable working before exploring a sales career path. A good place to start is to understand the difference between inside and outside sales jobs.

Essentially an inside sales job is a remote position, conducted “in the cloud,” as opposed to outside in a traditional face-to-face scenario. Inside sales jobs can be tremendously flexible, offering work-from-home options and, in some cases, flexible hours. An outside sales job is usually a traditional “shoe leather” position that involves physically going into the field to meet clients. Additionally, outside sales positions may require fairly heavy travel.

Other fields that hire for sales professionals include travel, hospitality, and retail. Work flexibility in these subcategories can include part-time, remote, and alternative schedule options.

Exploring the various types of sales job titles can be a smart way to figure out where you want your sales career path to lead. A sampling of sales titles in the FlexJobs database offers a bit of insight into the kinds of flexible positions available, from entry-level through senior management jobs:

  • Account Executive
  • Bid Analyst
  • Business Development Executive
  • Channel Territory Manager
  • Digital Sales Account Executive
  • Director of Sales
  • Enterprise Account Executive
  • Investment Sales Associate
  • Regional Sales Manager
  • Retail Sales Execution Manager
  • Sales Engineer
  • Sales Chat Representative
  • Sales Specialist

Maximizing Success on Your Sales Career Path

Say you’ve made the leap and launched your sales career. You’ve found a great flexible sales position with room for growth. Here are some tips to consider to help boost your chances of success on your sales career path:

  • Be conscientious. Follow through on calls and other outreach efforts to clients.
  • Be proactive. Taking initiative in closing sales can increase your—and your employer’s—bottom line.
  • Be persistent. While taking “no” for an answer may be the easier path, push through to the finish line, in a personable way, to increase chances of sealing the deal.
  • Be upbeat. The ability to stay optimistic is critical for sales professionals, and for job seekers looking for work in the sales field.
  • Be resourceful. Find creative ways to work around problems and come up with original, even unexpected solutions.

The greatest sales pitch in your search for work in the field is all about, well, you. Selling yourself to prospective employers can be your first and best step toward realizing a truly rewarding sales career path.

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