You ask any youngster in India about his career plans and very seldom you get to hear that they are planning to make “Sales” as their career option. The fact of the matter, however, is that the maximum number of job opportunities available in the market is for the Sales function and this profession guarantees a growth path that can make you earn name, fame and wealth at the fastest speed. This surely is a dichotomy and the same needs to be looking into with a magnifying lens!
Why do youngsters hate Sales?
1. Entry-level jobs start from field assignments.
All entry-level jobs do start with field assignments unless you have opted for clerical roles in the back office. A fresh engineer working in a steel plant starts his career in the plant premises at temperatures ranging from 300-degree celsius upwards. A Chartered Accountant starts his career as an auditor of companies wherein he/she is expected to visit site offices of clients and conduct an audit of vouchers. A fresh MBBS doctor is expected to work under the tutelage of senior nurses and BAMS passed ward in-charge in the ward. A fresh Architect who works in a design firm is expected to conduct field measurements for base-level drawings and supervise the working of civil contractors on site.
2. Sales do not offer a very respectable fixed salary.
Let us look at entry-level salaries for different career options in a small city like Nagpur as well as a metro like Mumbai to give a diverse view on this subject matter. The entry-level salaries for a Doctor(MBBS), Engineer(BE), CA and a Lawyer after studying for 4 years and having spent more than Rs 50 lakhs in the same is in the range of Rs 25000 – Rs 35000/month. The entry-level salary of a Salesperson ranges from Rs 15000 – Rs 30000/month. Please remember that the salesperson has not invested 4 years in attaining a degree nor has he/she invested Rs 50 lakhs on the 4 years of education post Class 12. In addition, the salesperson gets a variable compensation in the form of sales incentives which none of the other professions offer at the beginning of the career. Overall, the salesman gets a much better deal in salary compared to his counterparts I medical science, engineering, accounts, and law!
3. Sales jobs come with a sales target. This creates a threat of losing a job.
There is a target in every job. No employer employs you as if you were the son-in-law of the company. The only difference is that the sales targets come as a number and in other professions, the targets come as responsibilities to be fulfilled in a given time frame. For example, an MBBS doctor working in an indoor patient ward is expected to learn how to handle emergency medical cases deftly in 3 months’ time. An engineer is expected to start decoding engineering drawings correctly in 6 months’ time failing which he will not be able to complete assignments given to him. Every job comes with a target. In Sales the target is a number which is highlighted at the end of every month and hence the pressure of monthly numbers is there in Sales.
4. A negative Demand-Supply gap exists for Sales jobs. Less deserving peers also end up getting sales jobs.
The number of vacancies in Sales jobs far outnumber the number of vacancies in other fields. This is an advantage as well as a disadvantage. Why is this a disadvantage? This creates a negative demand-supply gap wherein the demand is high and the supply is low. Due to this negative demand-supply gap, the charm for getting a sales job is never so high. After all, there is always a positive demand in scarcity! If you look at this rationally, there is no sense in refuting something that is easily available in excess rather than stand in queue for something that is never going to be yours.
5. Society and the ecosystem do not talk about sales jobs with topmost respect.
Society always responds to stimuli fed to them. Once all salespersons start feeling the pride in their job and communicate the same to society, the latter will start treating sales jobs with respect. A lot has improved in this and lot remains to improve. On the other hand, if the community of salespersons themselves keeps on claiming that “Sales sucks” then surely the respect will never come to the profession.
6. The Sales Managers who mentor fresh salespersons are very demanding and sometimes harsh.
I strongly recommend that one should watch this movie called “Officers and Gentlemen”. In this, the newly commissioned officers undergo training to become officers under the mentorship of Subedars (non commissioned officers). The tough training imparted to the officers by people who are going to salute them after the training is over is a testimony to how coaching and mentoring happens in the real sense of the term. Unlike other professions, Sales is the only profession where coaching and mentoring are imparted by people who are senior in rank, experience, and skill. Let us look at some other professions. A fresh doctor gets trained by a senior nurse, a defense officer gets trained by an NCO, a fresh engineer gets trained by Field Supervisors (non-engineers), a fresh lawyer understands court proceedings from court clerks.
7. Freshers in Sales do not like to encounter the “fear of unknown” early on in their professional life.
Encountering the “fear of the unknown” is a pride of a salesperson. This is what makes him a salesperson. This is what ensures that every Tom, Dick or Harry cannot become a salesperson. The capability to handle “unknown elements” must be taken with pride and learned with respect.
Have you ever heard a para commando complain that he may die if his parachute does not open on time? Have you ever heard a cardiologist fear opening up a heart because of the fear of the unknown? Have you heard a CA fear the fact that if he is not able to balance the balance sheet due to some missing entries or some wrongly passed entry? Have you heard a lawyer fearing to lose a court case even before fighting it because of the fear of failure?
If none of them have the fear of the unknown, why should the salesperson have this fear? This can be a fear of non-sales persons. For a salesperson, it is a skill that has to be upheld with pride and dignity.
8. Salespersons feel that they cannot be good in sales if their communication is weak or if they cannot talk glibly with the gift of gab.
This is a myth that salespersons are supposed to be glib talkers. Not at all. I have found some of the best salespersons who are introvert by nature. In fact, salespersons’ job is not to talk but to make his customers talk by asking them the right set of questions. Salespersons are supposed to learn the art of need analysis through probing techniques. Salespersons should have a talkative pair of eyes through which they observe all that the customer is not saying. Talking skills, public speaking skills are desirable skills for salespersons but definitely not the prerequisite skills.
9. The society feels that sales jobs are meant for freshers who do not have any specialization in the Graduation stage. e.g. engineering etc.
Specialization in Sales is attained after working in the industry for 5 years. These are the same 4-5 years that are invested for further education in other professions. After 5 years of exposure, the salesperson gains specialization in the Channel of Distribution, Exports, Modern Retail Trade, Direct Selling, Institutional Selling, Key Account Management or E-commerce.
10. The image of a salesperson is very stereotyped and typecast in the minds of the peer group as someone who roams around in the sun with little or no dignity!
Let us not bother about what others feel about our job in the first 4-5 years of our baptism into sales. Please understand that while we are learning our trade better in these 4 – 5 years, others are still studying their engineering, medicine, law, CA and others. We have chosen to invest this time in a vocation called Sales.
In a Nutshell
The 10 reasons for which youngsters hate a career in Sales has been enumerated above with valid counterpoints. In fact these are the reasons for which a salesperson should love his profession with pride and dignity.
The final verdict for me goes in favor of Sales function because this is the only career option that provides an open-ended source to earn in the form of commission and incentives apart from the fixed salary. The perks and privileges that come with this extra income have no parallel in the industry today. In addition, this function of sales provides a fresher a peek into all functions of management like production, Human Resources, Finance, Materials Management. A salesperson cannot successfully do this work without a proper understanding of pricing (Finance), supply chain management (Materials Management) and human beings (HRM).
I have invested my life with pride as a salesperson and would love to talk one to one with anyone who hates the function of sales. Those who have “fear of failure” or “fear of unknown”should not enter into this career option. For this category of people, a lot of career option gates close down.
Long live Sales! Salespersons! Sales Ecosystem!