How to Get into Sales in 5 Steps (With Tips and FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated January 28, 2023

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Working in sales can be exciting because it involves meeting various personalities, building professional relationships, and having healthy competition. While some positions require sales experience, there are many entry-level roles you can get. If you're considering a career in sales, learning the process to get into this field can offer your career direction. In this article, we discuss how to get into sales, explore tips to start a career in sales, and describe the types of entry-level roles to consider.

How to get into sales

Whether you're starting your career or changing it, here's how to get into sales:

1. Educate yourself

Visit your local library to read books by successful executives and entrepreneurs on sales and sales techniques. You can also search online for sales websites, videos, articles, boot camps, and podcasts to expand on what you know about sales. If you have a friend, career coach, or mentor in sales, you may also request an informational interview to learn from their experiences. An information interview is a conversation that enables you to find out more about a company, role, or industry that interests you.

Related: Planning Your Path for a Career in Sales

2. Research sales jobs

Take time to research what selling a product or service entails. If you're new to sales, you can develop your skills quickly if you work in an industry that interests you. For example, if technology excites you and you want to get into sales, you are more likely to succeed as a salesperson in technology. Working in a job that interests you can also make it easier to engage with your work. When researching sales jobs, consider roles that offer training to new hires with no sales experience.

Related: “Why Sales?”: How to Answer This Interview Question

3. Consider getting an education

You can seek formal education as you start your career in sales. Your community college or university may offer courses or programs in sales, marketing or customer service. For example, many schools have an associate's or bachelor's degree program in marketing and sales. By completing formal training, you can get a comprehensive overview of how businesses operate and how making sales helps a business reach its goals.

Earning a certificate, diploma, or degree may also qualify you for more career opportunities, such as sales director or sales manager. You may also gain relevant training in business management and spreadsheet software or become fluent in a customer's language.

Read more: 6 Sales Certifications To Prove Your Skills to Employers

4. Develop sales skills

While learning about sales is important, you also want to develop the skills to sell products and services. Here are some of the most important sales skills to develop:

  • Communication: Salespersons need effective communication skills to present a product or service verbally or in writing. Learn to use compelling words and phrases to encourage leads to make a purchase.

  • Negotiation: Depending on the product or service you want to sell, you may need negotiation skills to get the most value from a sale after evaluating a client's position.

  • Active listening: Working as a salesperson typically requires you to focus on customers or leads as they speak to respond thoughtfully to their requests or comments.

  • Empathy: Showing empathy can help you understand the customer's needs and offer personalized solutions to them.

  • Self-motivation: Becoming more motivated and showing a good work ethic can help you make sales and succeed as a salesperson.

Read more:

  • 10 Sales Associate Skills and How to Improve Them

  • The Most Important Sales Skills for Your Resume

  • 12 Sales Manager Resume Skills (Plus How-To and Tips)

5. Look for sales roles

After developing the skill set to succeed in sales, you can start looking for a sales job. Search online job boards and request your contact to notify you of open positions. You can also consider engaging staffing agencies to get a sales position. Staffing agencies are organizations that connect qualified candidates with employers.

Tips on how to get into sales

Use these best practices when starting a sales job:

Be sincere about your experience

When applying for sales roles, ensure you describe your career experience accurately. Being transparent about your work experience can help you win the hiring manager's trust. Show your eagerness to learn on the job and meet all sales targets you may have.

Recognize your personality traits

Aside from sales skills, you may have character qualities that can make you a successful salesperson. For example, if you're friendly and approachable, you are more likely to succeed as a salesperson. Recognizing your personality traits helps you plan to showcase them on your application documents, during interviews, and when meeting with leads.

Be creative when looking for a sales position

Show your creativity when introducing yourself to hiring managers and customers. For example, while you may not have professional experience in sales, you can discuss items you sold to friends or family if asked about your sales experience. Similarly, you may discuss skills or experiences you gained from your previous career that you can transfer into a career in sales. For example, suppose you advocated for better conditions in school. You can show how this experience helped you develop your communication skills.

Prepare your sales pitch and plan interviews

Before attending job interviews, ensure you take time to research the company and its products and services. Many sales interviews involve delivering a sales pitch, which is a statement convincing a lead to make a purchase. Practising this statement in advance can help you succeed in job interviews.

Build your network

Expand your network by making more connections. Aside from helping you get a sales job you desire, your contacts can support you in reaching sales targets. For example, you may sell products to them or request sales referrals. Ensure your relationship with your contact is mutually beneficial.

What type of entry-level jobs can you get in sales?

Here are sales jobs you can get when entering the workforce:

Retail sales

Retail sales jobs involve selling products or services directly to customers. You may make sales in a physical or online store or an office. Many retail sales jobs are entry-level, and you can get one to start a career in sales. Common examples of what you might sell in a retail sales job include:

  • Unsought products or services: items not considered until required, such as funeral services or medical equipment

  • Specialty products: items unique to customers, such as hairstyles and designer clothing

  • Shopping products: items customers purchase less frequently than convenience products but more frequently than specialty products, such as clothing and plane tickets

  • Convenience products: items customers frequently purchase, such as bread and soap

Inside sales

Inside sales jobs involve making sales online or over the phone, typically within your employer's buildings. If you get an inside sales job, you'd typically work as part of a team. These roles involve selling to different customers.

Insurance sales

Insurance sales jobs involve selling various kinds of insurance, such as life and health insurance, to clients. If you get this type of sales job, you typically work for an insurance agency or broker. As an insurance salesperson, you may research and cold-call clients, explain policies to them and perform administrative tasks whenever necessary.

Commission-based sales

Commission-based sales involve selling products or services to customers and earning a percentage of the amount sold. For example, if you're a salesperson with a 30% commission, you'd make $3,000 for every product that costs $10,000. As your wages depend on the item you sell, you may be more motivated to work and develop a strong work ethic as a commission-based salesperson.

Related:

  • 10 Entry-Level Sales Jobs (With Average Salaries)

  • What Is Sales Commission? (Definition, Types and Tips)

FAQs about how to get into sales

Review the following answers to questions about working in sales:

What sales positions can you get without experience?

Here are entry-level sales positions you can get:

  • Sales representative: uses customer service and communication skills to make sales. The national average salary for a sales representative is $57,974 per year.

  • Sales intern: supports a sales department in reaching its sales targets. The national average salary for a sales intern is $16.22 per hour.

  • Sales associate: assists customers in making purchases. The national average salary for a sales associate is $16.38 per hour.

Related: 11 Highest Paid Sales Jobs (With Descriptions and Salaries)

Is a sales job the same as a marketing job?

A sales job involves converting leads into customers. These positions focus on activities that lead to customers making a purchase. In comparison, a marketing job involves making individuals and groups interested in the product or service. Marketing professionals generate leads and direct them to salespersons to convert to customers.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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