The Value of Sales Experience

I found this article over at the BrainBrew Blog. It adresses the following six myths about sales:

– Only Someone Who Talks a Good Game Can Sell

– Sales Is a Numbers Game

– To Succeed in Sales, You Must Have Thick Skin

– Sales Has Its Unavoidable Ups and Downs

– You Have to Be Good at Handling Rejection to Be in Sales

– Sales Is a Dead-End Career With Little Promotional Opportunity

The last one is particularly interesting to me because it is the opposite of everything I have ever heard. Here is the response to that myth, found in the article:

Did you know that 85 percent of the company leaders and entrepreneurs in America today were once salespeople? They carried sample cases, made cold calls, dialed for dollars, did product demonstrations and handled objections. Today, they're the majority of corporate presidents, CEOs and the like. Sales is a dead-end job, all right–especially when you consider that the end may be at the very top of an organization.

Since I move to Florida, I have met about 15 current or former CEOs at various business functions. Many of them run small companies and had lunch with me after I just called them out of the blue and asked to pick their brain for an hour. Since my background is in Electrical Engineering, I always ask them what path I should be on to rise to the top. All but one have said get into sales and marketing. The general consensus is that technical skill such as engineering, finance, accounting, etc. can always be hired. The tough thing about business is finding employees with the soft skills – selling, managing, people skills, etc. While all seemed to think that my technical background would no doubt be beneficial, and give me an in-depth understanding of issues that may confuse other businesspeople, they told me to drop engineering the first chance I got and do some sales. That is why I think it is interesting that sales is perceived as a dead-end job.

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