Should you go into sales?

If you want to be constantly challenged to learn and grow, to learn timeless principles of human psychology and persuasion, to have your income be a direct function of your ability, and to make a living by helping people solve problems, Sales might be for you.

There are many misconceptions about the art and science of sales.

So to determine if it’s right for you, first we have to blast through those so we can view the profession objectively.

What Sales is and isn’t: Misconceptions about Sales

First, we should agree on a definition:

Sales is simply the art and science of persuading people to purchase goods and services.

Sales is an artform, because it reguires creativity, ingenuity, and proper technique to execute masterfully.

Sales is a science, because activity level mathematically predicts one’s sales results.

Sales is not the sleazy tradition of manipulating people out of hard-earned money for shitty products.

99.9% of sales do not take place in car dealerships.

Sales isn’t a low-skill, easy profession where incompetent people make great money (usually).

Sales is more nuanced, competitive, and value-driven than ever before. In the information age, consumers complete 80% of the sales process on their own through their own research prior to even contacting a company.  It’s salespeople’s responsibility to add value to the sales process; if they don’t,  their competitors will, and they’ll get the sale.

Pros and Cons of Sales Jobs

With a definition in place and misconceptions out the window, let’s take an honest look at the pros and cons of sales jobs.

Pros and Cons of Sales Jobs

  • Your job will be all about helping people solve problems with good products.
  • You’ll likely get to travel, meet interesting people, and take in a wide variety of experience.
  • All the books and resources you need to succeed already exist; all you have to do is work.
  • Your income will be tied directly to how hard you work on yourself.
  • Your income potential will likely be uncapped.
  • You’re likely get to work more flexible hours.
  • You’ll become immune to fear of rejection.
  • You’ll become more persuasive in all areas.
  • You’ll become more persistent.

Pros and Cons of Sales Jobs

  • At first you will face a lot of rejection and failure. It’s a necessary hurdle to overcome.
  • Talking to people all day might be draining, depending on your personality.
  • You must self-educate, because very few companies have well-made sales processes and training.
  • It will likely take 3-6 months at least to “ramp up” and start feeling success.
  • In a 100% commission role, you’ll have no safety net of a salary to cushion periods of failure.
  • Sales requires consistently high energy to perform well in.
  • Your job might be stressful during peak sales months, and end-of-quarter.

How much money to salespeople make?

Looking at 18,647 salaries from Glassdoor, the average income for a salesperson is as follows:

  • $58,000 Base Salary
  • + $24,000 from Commissions
  • = $82,000 Total

That is more money than the average person with a Master’s Degree makes in the United States.

But that number is a little misleading.

Many sales people make much more money.

Let’s break it down:

Income on what level of leadership you’re looking at. The quintessential entry-level sales job is called “Business Development” (BizDev) or “Sales Development”. Their basic responsibility is to contact new potential customers in high volume to generate appointments for the “Account Executives” (AE) or “Account Managers”.

With 1-2 years of success in BizDev, you’ll be promoted to an Account Executive. There, your primary responsibility will be closing customers, and managing those relationships over time.

With 2-4 years of success as an AE, you can become an “Enterprise Account Executive”. Those folks do the same job as before, just with large enterprise customers like the Fortune 500.

As an alternative, salespeople can go into sales leadership. Sales Managers manage teams of salespeople. Sales Directors manage Sales Managers. and VP’s of Sales manage Sales Directors and Managers.

How much money do BizDev / Account Executives make?

However, the average income for a Business Development Representative is:

  • $45,000 Base Salary
  • + $15,000 from Commissions
  • = $60,000 Total

The average income for an Account Executive is:

  • $67,000 Base Salary
  • + $34,000 from Commissions
  • = $101,000 Total

The average income for an Enterprise Account Executive is:

  • $89,000 Base Salary
  • + $95,000 from Commissions
  • = $184,000 Total

How much money does sales leadership make?

The average income for a Business Development Manager is:

  • $80,000 Base Salary
  • + $20,000 from Commissions
  • = $100,000 Total

The average income for a Director of Sales is:

  • $136,000 Base Salary
  • + $54,000 from Commissions
  • = $190,000 Total

The average income of a VP of Sales is:

  • $155,000 Base Salary
  • + $80,000 from Commissions
  • = $235,000 Total

Sales is the only profession outside of entrepreneurship where your personal income is a function of your personal development. The better you become as a person, the more money you make. It’s for this reason that Sales is a brilliant career path for those who naturally focus on personal development.

Sales is also a great choice for those who like to solve problems. By listening to and empathizing with customer’s frustrations and situations, and recommending products and services to solve their problems, you create value for them. They in turn pay your company money. Then your company pays you money. It’s a 360-degree win for all parties involved.

The income potential is so absurdly high, going into Sales seems like a no-brainer for virtually anyone capable of it. The income doesn’t come at the expense of hours worked either. In many industries, you can reach a place where you only work 30 hours per week, but make over $100,000 per year. The flexibility and income potential of sales jobs is one of the most powerful arguments to give it a try.

Above all else, getting good at sales teaches you how to be influential and persuasive. It forces you to master timeless principles of human psychology. As a result, you are better-suited to navigate virtually every challenge you face in life that requires the aid of others. You’ll be better primed to assume a leadership role in any community you’re a part of.

Sales makes you a better version of yourself.

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash