Finding Your Niche in a Sales Career

In terms of careers, aside from my early stints as a busboy and a security guard, I have spent my entire career in sales. I began in retail and then moved to B2B in 1977. I have never looked back and my life has been full and rewarding. It took me a long time to find my niche, but I’ll let you in on a little secret.

There is no career more stable than that of a good salesperson!

Good salespeople are difficult to find and will always be in demand. I was attending college and majoring in history. There’s a career path for you. I switched to selling (I was working part time in retail) and I took an accelerated one-year course at the local community college. Saved a lot of shekels in the process.

Like a lot of salespeople, I moved around quite a bit. What I found was that certain industries captured my passion while others did not. Office equipment was a winner. Computers and software … ok, but not awesome. Phone systems … should have clicked but did not. Commercial audio visual … not. Custom electric signs … winner winner, chicken dinner! Retail gave me my start and I could not wait to leave it.

I have determined that a number of factors will play as to whether or not an industry might be a good fit for me …

  • My preference is for a tangible vs. an intangible offering.
  • It has to be B2B vs. B2C.
  • I have to be personally passionate about my products. 
  • I like every deal to be different.
  • I have to really love what I am doing.
  • My preference is for new vs. repeat business depending on dollar value.
  • The more expensive the product, the better!
  • I like products that cost more every year.
  • I love to outwork and outwit my competitors.
  • I need the freedom to work on my own program. I’m a self starter and I hate to be managed.
  • I have to know that the company cares about it’s people and it’s customers.
  • I’m not crazy about commodity offerings unless I can make distinctions from my competitors.
  • Product knowledge must be an important factor in the sale. I excel at educating my customers.

For me, electric signs checked all of the boxes. While I had at least some success in all of the industries I worked in, I was the most successful, and the happiest, in the electric sign industry.

I’ll tell you another thing. I have hired and fired more salespeople than I can count. When letting someone go, I was always careful to share that they had the talent, just not for our needs. I fully expected that they would find a place where they would be highly successful. Most did. Not always in sales but often in sales. They found their niche. Now, conversely, I may have struggled in their chosen industry. Not my niche.

If you find yourself in sales, and you love selling but you are struggling … I would suggest that you take some time to really identify those factors that will be the most important to your selling success and then go out and find it. I know what I want and need. How about you?

Craig M. Jamieson

Craig M. Jamieson is a lifelong B2B salesperson, manager, owner, and a networking enthusiast. Adaptive Business Services provides solutions related to the sales professional including Boise’s best B2B leads group, NetWorks! Boise Valley. We are a Nimble SCRM Solution Partner and a Value Added Associate for TTI Performance Systems. Craig also conducts training and workshops primarily in social selling and communication skills. Craig is also the author of “The Small Business’ Guide to Social CRM”, now available on Amazon!

Craig M. Jamieson

Craig M. Jamieson

Craig M. Jamieson

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