As you’d imagine, sales is a huge area. Just about every product and service needs someone to sell it so that covers a huge range of industry sectors and niches. In 2019, 979,000 people in the UK worked in sales jobs. So there are always going to be a lot of opportunities for those with the right sales skills. But not everyone is a natural salesperson. Whether you’re cold-calling, pitching for business, behind a counter, or closing a £multi-million deal, you’ll be an excellent communicator with superb people/influencing skills. Other characteristics include enthusiasm, confidence and resilience. After all, it’s isn’t an easy job. You’ll have to put up with a lot of rejection and setback – perhaps even after having worked on a particular sale for months.
Selling is all about knowing your product and your customer
But there’s much more to selling if you really want to make a successful career as a salesperson. You’ll need to be passionate about what you’re selling and know your product inside out. Depending on the product (or service), this can mean specialised technical knowledge or training.
It’s important to know your customer too. A salesperson needs to understand their customer demographic, in order to build trust and rapport. They need to be able to hone in on the needs of the customer and create the best way to present the product to meet those needs. That means being empathetic and a great listener. It’s isn’t all about the sales spiel! Qualifications aren’t essential. Natural sales ability will be much more important. So when it comes to getting your break, you’ll be required to demonstrate that by selling yourself to potential employers.
Many people start out in a part-time or Saturday job while studying and decide that’s the career they want to pursue, so leave school to do just that. However, there are many other specialised roles that may require higher level qualifications. There are a number of degree courses in sales and marketing throughout the UK. While working as an assistant in a shop, supermarket or retail won’t necessarily require a degree, if you’re looking to move into sales development, work in management or work as a sales executive, you will need some training, whether provided in-house or financed by yourself. If you are currently working in sales, a course such as the three year degree course in business-to-business sales at Leeds Trinity University could work wonders for your career prospects.
Its takes drive, determination, intelligence and knowledge to be a great salesperson, which is why the best can earn big salaries. The average salary for a UK sales professional ranges from about £35,000 to £39,000, but experienced sales directors can earn in excess of £135,000. Many roles will be commission-based in one way or another, so the more you sell, the more you earn. Of course, there are excellent opportunities for both progression and specialising. The best salespeople go on to create and run their own businesses, becoming millionaires along the way.
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