Sales is the lifeblood of any organization and a career in sales can be immensely rewarding. If you’re already in Sales, or considering going into sales, you need to know if it’s the perfect career for you. That’s the purpose of this article —  to guide you on how to build a career in sales, what it’s like to have a sales career, pros and cons of sales career, job responsibilities and salaries, and more.

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What Is Sales?

Sales is a process that results in the exchange of a product, commodity, service or delivery for money. A career in sales involves understanding the wants and needs of prospective customers and providing them what they’re looking for. A salesperson sells products and services by highlighting how a prospective customer can benefit from making a purchase. A career in sales is more focused on meeting customer requirements objectively rather than persuading customers to purchase something. 

Education Required for Sales

A sales representative uses strong communication skills to sell products or services. Former education is rarely necessary to pursue a career in sales, but some recruiters prefer candidates having a minimum high school diploma. There may be further educational requirements depending on the organization. For instance, pharmaceutical companies may require sales reps to have knowledge of biology and pharmaceuticals; likewise, technical sales representatives may be required to have technical knowledge certification or bachelor’s degree in tech-related domain. Anyone can get into sales, provided they have the drive to grow sales skills and the passion to succeed. Education, training and certifications can help aspirants build sales related skills and provide relevant experience. 

Reasons to Pursue a Career in Sales

Sales is an excellent career and anyone pursuing a career in sales has the potential to earn a high salary. Here are a few reasons why you should consider pursuing a career in sales.

  • High income potential – A sales career can offer unlimited income potential based on the effort and performance you put in. There’ll be a goal or quota that you must hit monthly or annually, but once you meet those goals, you’ll be adequately rewarded. 
  • Accessibility – Most sales positions are open to all and do not require specialized training to get started. 
  • Job security – Sales is an essential component of every business. In the US, over 15 million people work in the sales industry. Therefore, if you’re an established salesperson with a proven track record, you have considerable value in the job market.
  • Flexibility – Most sales positions offer a flexible schedule, where you can set your daily goals as long as you meet the requirements. 
  • Continuous skill development – A career in sales can provide the opportunity to learn, grow and develop your skills abundantly. 
  • Great stepping stone – sales can be a great stepping stone for many other lucrative careers.   
  • Mastering in-demand skills – In sales, you can develop and master skills that’ll help you thrive in any area of expertise in future. 
  • Challenges and rewards – A sales job offers rewards galore – from emotional rewards to income rewards, flexibility, and the ability to create and secure employment for others. 

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The Pros and Cons of a Sales Career

Pros

Cons

As a salesperson, you yourself determine how well you do. In sales, payment is based on base salary plus commission. Thus, your earning depends on the number of deals you close.

Poor performance can affect your income. In months where you can’t close enough deals, a huge chunk of your salary gets deducted.

You yourself can choose good leads that’ll enable you to get business.

Not all good leads will convert into a closed-won deal.

Sales quotas are carefully calculated, hence there’s a clear measurement of success.

Sales quotas can be stressful, especially, the ones that do not convert to deals.

You can establish yourself as a trusted advisor and problem solver to prospective customers by being helpful.

People think salespeople are pushy

You’ll solve unique problems for different customers, which will keep your work exciting and engaging.

You only sell one thing. Talking about the same product /products over and over can get monotonous.

Career Paths in Sales

There are various roles and responsibilities falling within the sales domain, but the core of all sales careers are the same. 

Salespeople sell products or services that fit customer needs. They identify prospective customers, build trust, nurture prospects, share information on offers, and convince prospects to make a purchase. 

Here is a list of some common sales career paths you can take, from beginner to established executive.  

Sales Beginner and Mid-Level Careers

Sales Development Rep (SDR)

Job Responsibilities - Sales Development Reps or Business Development Reps are responsible for bringing in qualified leads, which is the first step in the sales funnel. 

SDRs are required to have strong interpersonal and organizational skills, thorough understanding of products. 

Salary – the average base salary for an SDR is $46,936, and the average commission ranges from $4,000 to $26,000.

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Inside Sales Rep

Job Responsibilities – prospecting, nurturing and converting potential leads remotely

Salary - the average base salary for Inside Sales Rep is $42,932, and the average commission ranges from $2,000 to $27,000

Sales Manager Careers

Account Executive (AE)

Job Responsibilities – finding out prospective clients needs, giving demos and presentations, finding out the exact needs of clients, and finalizing the sale.   

Salary - the average base salary for AE is $57,000, and commission can range from $4,000 to $51,000

Regional Sales Manager

Job Responsibilities – overseeing Sales Reps in their district, including SDRs, Inside Sales Reps, Outside Sales Reps, Account Managers. They also help in planning strategies to meet company sales goals. 

Salary - the average base salary for regional sales managers is $75,600. For commission, the average range is $5,000 to $50,000

Sales Operation Manager

Job Responsibilities – to train and support a sales team. Need expertise in software, data analysis, leadership skills

Salary - The average base salary of a sales operations manager is $68,877, while commission ranges from $2,000 to $39,000.

Sales Engineer

Job Responsibilities – responsible for increasing sales and profit by finding out what customers need and collaborating with product, engineering and sales teams to develop a solution. 

Salary - The average base salary of a sales engineer is $87,598. The average commission ranges from $5,000 to $43,000 per year.

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Sales Executive Careers

Director of Sales 

Job Responsibilities – working with managers to set quota goals, build strategies, and hiring qualified reps. 

Salary - The average base salary for the Sales Director role is about $123,306, and the average commission is between $8,000 and $73,000 per year.

Chief Sales Officer

Job Responsibilities – the role is found in large companies as it’s the highest position in a career in sales. Demands exceptional skills in strategic sales, leadership, business development, etc. 

Salary - The average base salary for a chief sales officer role is $182,876 and commission can range from $15,000 to $176,000 per year.

Is Sales the Right Career for You?

Still unsure if a sales career is the right choice for you? Find out if you have the following characteristics and if the list excites you to job hunt.

Are you:

  • Self-motivated and enjoy having a goal to attain?
  • Interested in helping people solve their problems?
  • Motivated by money to work harder?
  • An excellent communicator?
  • Looking to constantly grow and upskill?
  • Competitive and striving for success?

Degrees for a Career in Sales

Education is not a major factor in building a successful career in sales. But if you’re looking to climb the ladder and aim for managerial positions, a bachelor’s degree is a must. The following degree programs can provide the right skillup for a successful sales career.

  • Finance
  • Management
  • Economics
  • Business
  • Marketing
  • Psychology
  • Communications
  • Public Relations
  • Life Sciences
  • Engineering 

How to Start a Career in Sales?

Here’s what you can do to kickstart your sales career and land your dream job.

  • Find out what type of career you want, what interests you.
  • Create and use your network.  
  • Figure out what job roles to look for
  • Research to enhance knowledge about the sales industry.
  • Be ready to adjust.

Our Readers Also Asked

1. Is being in sales a good career?

Yes, sales is a very good career. Salespeople can earn high salaries and often have a clear career path within their organizations.  Anyone with a drive to improve sale skills and  the desire to succeed can pursue sales. 

2. What jobs in sales pay the most?

  • Sales consulting 
  • Consumer packaged goods sales
  • Digital media sales
  • Medical device sales
  • Software sales
  • Outsourced sales services

3. Is sales a tough career?

Sales is not an easy job. In sales, you’ll be expected to work hard and you might have to put in long hours before you can reap the benefits of the job.

4. Can you make a career out of sales?

There are ways to transition out of a career in sales. Possible careers to pursue after sales include:

  • Marketing Specialist
  • Corporate Strategist
  • Consultant
  • Operations Manager
  • Business Owner
  • Retail Salesperson

5. Why is sales a good career?

A career in sales can be highly rewarding and can give you the required skills to better understand and succeed in the field.

6. When should you quit a sales job?

  • Consider getting out of sales if you experience:
  • Loss of interest
  • Lack of development opportunities
  • You don’t earn as much as you deserve
  • Better opportunities elsewhere

7. How do I start a career in sales?

Kickstart your sales career by figuring out what type of sales career you want. Expand your network and find out what roles to look for. Educate yourself about the sales industry and be ready to adapt. 

8. How do I know if sales is right for me?

If you have traits like persuasion, competitive nature, empathy, and skills for teamwork, and effective communication, there's a high chance you’d succeed in a sales career. 

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Final Words

Now that you know the ins and outs of a sales career, we hope you’re ready to apply for your first sales job. Just remember to keep learning, growing and upskilling to be on the right track for a successful sales career. 

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About the Author

SimplilearnSimplilearn

Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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