Are you facing this classic career conundrum: You’re interested in getting a job in sales, which often requires sales experience, but you’re new to the field and don’t know how to break in. How do you get a job that often requires experience when you’re just starting out?
Don’t let these questions derail you from pursuing a career in sales—there are pathways forward, even without a packed resume. Consider the following strategies if you’re interested in getting a job in sales but lack experience.
Start at the bottom.
This is a traditional way of starting out in a new industry or field—but it’s still relevant and effective today! Consider working under an experienced salesperson or sales team in an industry that interests you—perhaps as an assistant or intern if feasible—and make the most of that opportunity to learn the ropes and get your feet wet. Not only will you learn the ins and outs of sales, you’ll also have valuable experience that you can include on your resume.
Highlight transferable skills.
Revisit your resume in an effort to spin the work experience you do have to highlight your “sales potential.” Think about the qualities that good salespeople possess—are you talented at public speaking and delivering presentations? Do you have experience convincing colleagues of the value of your ideas on projects? Perhaps you’re a negotiating whiz with a track record of proven results? These are all transferable skills—they’ve served you well in your current or past positions and they’re potentially valuable skills in the world of sales. Make sure your resume’s bullet points and your cover letters make a convincing case for why this is true.
Sell yourself in interviews.
If you’ve followed the previous advice and made a great case in your resume and cover letter regarding your transferable skills and have landed an interview for a sales job, then congratulations—you’ve made a big first step forward. Your next step is to consider your interview as your first big sales challenge—you’re about to face a potentially tough “client” and your goal is to “sell” them on the idea that you’re worth taking a chance on!
Before the day of the interview, make sure your persuasive skills are razor sharp, come equipped with real-world examples of how you’ve used your transferable, sales-related skills in previous positions effectively, and practice selling individuals—perhaps a friend, colleague, or family member—on the idea of hiring you for a sales job. Consider this time and effort an investment in your career goals.
Do your homework.
Another feather you can add to your job-hunting cap is a deep knowledge of each company you’re pursuing, along with some core industry knowledge. Invest some time in researching the field and how the company stacks up against the competition. Look for things that impress you about the company and be sure to include them in your cover letter as reasons why you’re eager to join the team. Also consider learning and dropping a few key sales industry terms in your cover letter—but don’t overdo it or it could come off as more pandering than knowledgeable.
Face the challenge!
When you’re going after a job in sales but have little or no experience, you’re facing an uphill challenge. You need to work extra hard in order to tip the odds in your favor, and the strategies listed here will help you do just that. The rest is up to you!
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