When I ask most people if they’ve considered a career in sales, they’re all too quick to reject the idea.
- “Sales reps are always so pushy, I don’t want to be asking for money all day.”
- “I’m not a people person, I’d hate talking to strangers all day!”
- “I’ve never sold anything before, I can’t break into that career.”
- “Sales culture seems really toxic, I won’t fit in.”
I get this reaction from many people because when they think of sales reps, they think of dishonest and pushy people portrayed in movies populating used car lots and mall kiosks, inflating the stereotypes they’ve seen on TV. For many people, the only interaction they have with sales reps is limited to a time when they’ve been interrupted by the rep to be sold products they may not even need.
However, that's not what sales looks like today. (Or at least, that’s not what it should look like.) Anyone in modern sales knows that those stereotypes of the overbearing con artist are myths. In order to be successful as a salesperson today, you have to be adaptable, intelligent, and constantly prioritize your prospects’ needs in order to win their business.
I’m here to bust those myths and paint a more realistic picture of what modern sales looks like.
1) Myth: Sales reps are only pushing you to spend more money.
I get it. It’s in the job title to sell. However, in the age of the internet when all information is available, sales people are no longer the gatekeepers to information. You don’t have to depend on a salesperson to tell you the specifics of a package you’re looking to buy or if the software is actually user friendly. Now more than ever, the customer has the power in the buying process. They can look up user reviews, ask other professionals in their industry, or test it in a trial. Given that the buyer now has a more information, the modern salesperson has to be consultative, kind, and helpful to do their job well.
In order to be as helpful as possible, salespeople are incentivized to sell only what they think will help their prospects - not what will make the most money. A prospect they oversold can easily become an upset customer that leaves bad reviews. Positive word of mouth is the lifeline of a business in today’s transparent market and therefore successful salespeople have to be motivated to provide the best experience possible.
2) Myth: Sales reps are only extroverts.
A common misconception of sales people is that they’re all bubbly individuals that love talking to people all day long. While many are extroverts, introverted skills are crucial for salespeople to hit their quota month after month. The truth is, one of the key components of being a successful salesperson is careful and attentive listening. In order to actually drive value to your prospects and win their business, you have to truly understand their pain points. This takes empathy and open mindedness and if salespeople are only talking and not listening on their sales calls, they will not be able to understand the needs of their prospects.
3) Myth: You have to have previous sales experience.
The truth is, salespeople come from a variety of different backgrounds. At HubSpot, we have people on the team who started out as nurses, comedians, writers, and even biochemists like myself. It’s never too late to try your hand at as sales career, and you’d be surprised to learn how many of the skills you were taught in your previous jobs are transferable to a career in sales.
I’m not discounting previous experience by any means. But, while previous experience is helpful, the majority of sales teams will have entry level positions available that you can apply for to dip into the world of sales. Sales is a unique career where the effort and time you put in can directly correlate with your salary, and this opportunity should not be missed or discounted by those who are interested but lack previous experience. Many sales organizations will have BDR (Business Development Representative) or SDR (Sales Development Representative) roles that will help develop sales skills for a quota carrying role. For those without previous sales experience, sales hiring managers often look for a strong work ethic, coachability, and organization skills for these hires. This builds a strong foundation for a long term sales career.
4) Myth: Sales teams are not diverse.
Whether it’s The Wolf of Wall Street or Glengarry Glen Ross, the popular portrayal of sales people is uniformly not diverse. While this may be the reality of some sales floors, the tide is shifting. Top companies are looking to diversify their sales teams because, not only is it the right thing to do, but the data shows that in order meet revenue goals, they must be able to adapt to sell to a larger or different market. For example, did you know that women are 5% more likely to close a deal than men? Or that a team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152% likelier than another team to understand that client?
Your prospects will never be a uniform group of people and it has been proven that diverse teams drive the bottom line. That’s why so many companies, including HubSpot, are working to build diverse and inclusive sales teams.
Fundamentally, sales is about investing time in understanding your prospects’ pain points in order to demonstrate value and help them solve a problem. The role of the salesperson has adapted as our customers continue to adapt, and now more than ever we’re the people on the other end of the phone or Zoom call providing customers with advice, guidance, and resources about the product to help a business run as efficiently and effectively as possible. So, if you’ve fallen prey to any of these myths about working in sales, maybe it’s time to reconsider. Sales is a lucrative and rewarding career and should be accessible to anyone in today’s modern business culture.