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?