Updated January 17, 2021

The benefits of working in sales are numerous. Those in the field develop skills that employers find extremely valuable – and let’s be honest, sales consultants tend to earn a good living. But if you’re interested in transitioning into a sales career, you need to make sure you approach the change in the correct way if you want to optimize your chances of success. Planning on making the move? Consult our 15 practical tips for a sales career and how to make the jump as smooth as possible. 

20 tips for transitioning into a sales career

Start building your network now

Networking is an important part of sales. The bigger your network is, the greater your opportunity to receive referrals, build a positive reputation for yourself, and discover new leads.

That’s why, if you’re serious about a career change to sales, there’s no time like the present to start building your network. Getting started can be as easy as making more of an effort to communicate with other professionals in your industry and adjacent ones.

Get started with in-person networking by asking the people in your circle for introductions. Most importantly, get yourself out there. Attend networking events with different chambers of commerce, industry-specific associations, and local chapters of industry associations. Don’t forget about:

  • Professional conferences
  • Training events
  • Job fairs
  • Public speaking events
  • Alumni events
  • Charity events
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Cultural or community events

While in-person networking is usually best, there are also plenty of virtual networking events nowadays, so networking is easier than ever. To find in-person or virtual opportunities, here’s what we recommend:

  • Ask alumni or affinity organizations
  • Join pertinent Facebook, LinkedIn, and Slack groups
  • Eventbrite.com
  • Create your own event!

Assess your strengths and weaknesses

Great salespeople aren’t born overnight. You may already have some of the traits of an excellent salesperson. But you will likely also have some weaknesses that you need to address as you grow.

The first step in doing this is figuring out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Once you identify your weaknesses, you can begin focusing on improving them.

The Harvard Business Review has an excellent guide for assessing your strengths, which you can find here. You can also ask trusted mentors, friends, family members, or previous employers if they wouldn’t mind pointing you in the right direction. Once you are familiar with your own strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to proceed to the following steps.

Choose the right training program

If you’ve never worked in sales before, then there’s a good chance that you’ll want to complete some type of training before getting started. Just keep in mind, not all forms of sales training are the same.

Each training program will have its own unique focus, which may or may not be applicable to the type of sales you want to do. That’s why it’s important to take your time reviewing your training options before committing.

HubSpot created a great list of sales training courses from “Introduction to Sales” to “Strategic Social Selling.” They have both virtual and in-person options, so you can find a good fit for you. Alternatively, university education courses are always reliable; even if you don’t want to attend locally, online university courses are also available through schools like Southern New Hampshire University or University of Phoenix. 

Research to master your niche

Researching the niche you’re going to operate in is essential before transitioning into a sales career. You need to be an expert on the industry and have a keen understanding of the types of things your target audience cares about.

You may already have this understanding if you want to work sales in an industry you’re already a part of. But if you don’t, make sure that you give yourself enough time to master your niche.

What if you still need to find your niche? First, make a list of your 10 top interests and passions. You’ll perform much better if you relate to the product or service you’re selling. Next, we recommend finding out which of those passions you’re most equipped to sell for. You can do this by:

  • Having conversations with people in your target market and see if you can answer their questions
  • Do your research online to find common pain points and questions to test your knowledge on the subject

Work on your relationship-building skills

In many ways, sales is really about building and maintaining relationships. Although an actual sale involves your business selling something to their business, that doesn’t happen unless you have a workable relationship with the buyer.

So make sure to spend some time working on your relationship-building skills as well. If you have any friends who are in sales, consider asking them what they do to create strong relationships with their buyers.

Study popular sales techniques

Every salesperson has their unique way of closing deals. But before you can customize your own strategy, you need to understand what works and why. That means studying popular sales techniques and trying them out.

The more you try, the more you’ll understand what works for you and what doesn’t. Then you can come up with a strategy that optimizes your sales process.

Shadow an experienced salesperson in your desired role

It’s one thing to learn about sales through books, videos, and articles. But it’s another thing altogether to see a salesperson work in real-time. 

If you’re serious about improving your sales skills, then it could be beneficial to shadow someone who is an expert in your desired field. Doing so could help you learn practical tips and tricks to knock your next sales assignment out of the park.

Rebuild your resume

If you’ve never previously worked in sales, you may worry your resume will fall flat when you apply for sales positions. However, it’s very likely that the work you’ve done in the past has helped you develop skills that will be highly relevant in your sales job.

More specifically, try reframing your descriptions of previous roles to focus on how they prepared you for what you want to do as a salesperson. Hubspot’s published a helpful list on some of the most common sales job interview questions and how to best respond.

Once you’ve landed your new role, consider these tips for a sales career – like setting actionable SMART goals.

Outline your goals

Once you get into your new sales position, you may not have the time that you do now to assess where you hope to go in the industry. That’s why it’s a good move to outline your goals for your career change now. Think about what you hope to achieve by the time you retire and list each of those objectives in a clear, concise way.

Create a step-by-step plan for your goals

Now that you know what your goals are, it’s time to create a step-by-step plan for reaching them. Try to parcel each goal out in a series of realistic steps. That way, you can take things one step at a time and still know that you’re making progress toward your goals.

Understand the value of resources

Salespeople use a ton of different resources to convince prospects to buy from them. These include things like webinars, infographics, studies, social media posts, and more.

Resources help salespeople close deals by providing prospects with the information they need to make a buying decision. Resources also help salespeople build stronger relationships with their clients. So make sure you understand how to use these properly before transitioning into a sales position. 

Approach the right supervisor with your career change request

Depending on the type of company you already work for, you may be able to make an internal move into a sales career. If that’s something you’re interested in doing, it’s important to think carefully about which supervisor you speak with.

Some supervisors will be supportive and give you opportunities that help you prepare for the change. Others will dismiss your requests and leave you to fend for yourself. So make sure that you’re approaching the right person in management with your career transition request to ensure you get as much support as possible.

Start building an online presence

Today, the vast majority of the sales process usually takes place online. That’s why it’s imperative for salespeople to establish online brands for themselves. Doing so can be as easy as being more diligent about posting, particularly on LinkedIn – especially if you have thoughts to offer on the sales industry. 

Whatever you do, just make sure that you’re putting yourself out there online so that buyers in your industry can start getting familiar with you. And perhaps most importantly…be yourself and be authentic.

Practice pitching

Pitching can be a really difficult thing to do if you’re not seasoned. Take some time to practice pitching now while you don’t have a stake in the outcome.

Trusted friends and colleagues will often be willing to listen to your practice pitch, but you can also just do these in front of the mirror. Give yourself some repetitions so you can get into a flow when the time comes to make your real pitches.

Develop strategies for dealing with rejection

Rejection is, unfortunately, a very big part of sales. If you want to transition into this industry, you’ll need to be prepared to face rejection and move on without allowing it to derail you.

This is a purely mental game. Simply being conscious about reminding yourself that rejection is a normal part of the sales process can be enough to keep your spirits upbeat.

Learn how to successfully deal with rejection now, and you’ll be well-positioned to succeed as a salesperson once you make the transition.

Start a blog

Part of getting established as a salesperson is creating a brand for yourself. You want your target audience to get familiar with your name and develop a baseline trust level. Starting a blog could be just what you need to achieve that.

Your target audience will read your blog if it covers important topics to its members. And then the next time you reach out to a lead, they may already recognize you from that interesting blog post they read. 

This can be a great way to stand out from other salespeople because it establishes you as someone who can provide value for your prospects right away.

Schedule your time

Sales is a demanding job that will require attention to many different things over an average day, week, and month. You need to manage your time effectively if you want to make more efficient progress towards your goals in this industry.

That’s why it’s also a good idea to create a detailed schedule for yourself. Set aside dedicated time blocks for tasks like reading and responding to emails, which can eat up large portions of your day if you’re not careful.

Work on your communication skills

If you could point to a single skill that matters most for a salesperson, communication would likely be. The best salespeople can communicate effectively with many different personality types.

Even if you already think that you’re a strong communicator, it doesn’t hurt to brush up your skills, emphasizing how they relate to your sales process. Reading sales books, such as How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, can help.

Focus on helping customers, not selling to them

New salespeople, rightfully, spend a lot of time focusing on how to turn their interactions with prospects into sales. It’s good to have that goal. But leading your conversations in the direction of attempting to make a sale every time isn’t a good way to build relationships.

Ultimately, you need to build relationships to have a lasting career in sales. And one of the best ways to do that is by focusing your energy on helping prospects instead of selling to them.

Practice the art of the follow-up

Another important part of sales is following up with prospects who don’t respond to your sales efforts right away. Statistics show that 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up attempt. That means you could be close to above-average in your new sales role immediately just by not giving up so soon.

When following up with a lead, keep the conversation going. You need to get them engaging with you again before you can sell them something. Do that by asking the right questions, checking in, and providing value in the form of things like blog posts and case studies.

Other tips for a sales career? Practice pitching!

Transitioning to a Sales Career in 2022 – with No Experience

With a significant number of businesses diverting towards ecommerce, is it even possible to transition to a sales career without significant sales experience? Here are a few tips for starting your sales career in 2021 or 2022, especially if you have limited or no experience.

  • Demonstrate your initiative and commitment. You can show potential employers that you are committed to a new sales career by enrolling in and completing online sales courses. Sites like masterclass.com and coursera.org have high-quality courses, and will give you something to show that you take initiative to become better even when nobody is pushing you.
  • Be open to humility and working hard. You want to secure the best position possible, but in today’s era of freelancers and online hiring, competition can be stiff. You might have to swallow your pride and take a lower starting position than you envisioned, but every opportunity is an opportunity to prove your sales skills and work ethic. Build upon your experience and make connections so that you can secure promotions or better positions in the future.
  • Update your social media. As we often mention, a LinkedIn presence is essential, especially in today’s career landscape. It’s time to take your social media presence to the next level by composing a thoughtful profile and adding relevant posts. Make sure you have a professional profile photo, and that you share your accomplishments and skills on the platform. It can be helpful to have credible friends tagging you and commenting on your posts.
  • Use all of your resources. In today’s day and age, you can look for sales jobs on Indeed, SalesJobs, Rainmakers, SalesTrax, and other sales opportunity sites.
  • Be the best version of yourself. Our final tip for transitioning to sales in 2022 is as old as time – have a great personality. Brush up on your active listening skills, practice a positive attitude, and make steps to be someone that people love to be around. You might start reading human psych literature, or you might ask family and friends about the strengths and weaknesses of your personality. Whatever you do, remember – people hire people they want to work with, and that get along with other people, especially in sales.

Should you transition to a sales career in 2022?

Making the jump from your current position to a sales job can be tough enough on its own. But it can also be a challenge to figure out if a career in sales is right for you.

If you’re still trying to make this decision, read on. We’re covering four things that you can think about to determine if you should transition into a sales career in 2022.

Think about what you enjoyed most about your previous jobs

Consider what made you happy in previous positions. Do you enjoy forming relationships and teaching people about the benefits of products? If so, sales could be perfect for you.

Alternatively, maybe you get joy out of working out challenging problems on your own, and you’re not keen on servicing others.

The bottom line is that if what you’ve enjoyed about work in the past is something that you would get to do a lot of in sales, then the chances are sales might be a good fit for you.

Take a personality test

These are great for zeroing in on what makes you tick. There are also lots of good online career aptitude tests and you can see what you’re naturally good at and what would come in handy as a salesperson.

Know what skillsets excel in sales

While it’s always good to learn new skills, you want to have at least some of the skills that a salesperson needs before you make this career switch. Here are some of the most important skills to have in sales:

  • Storytelling
  • Persuasion
  • Verbal communication
  • Relationship building
  • Extroversion
  • Self-motivation

If you already possess a lot of these skills, great! There’s a good chance you’ll hit the ground running as a salesperson. If you don’t, you may want to spend some time developing them before jumping into this career.

Try it out

There are lots of different thought exercises and tests you can do to predict whether or not you’ll enjoy sales. But the only real way to verify whether sales is for you is to try it out. There are ways to do this without committing to a career change upfront. You could talk to a supervisor at your current job about your interest in sales and ask about opportunities to explore. Or, you could shadow another colleague in the sales department or in a different company.

Get more out of your sales process with LeadLander

Salespeople use all sorts of different software to make the sales process easier – consider LeadLander your secret weapon to success. 

LeadLander specializes in industry-leading website visitor tracking software. It gives you an edge with valuable information about who’s visiting your company’s website and what they’re doing while on it. 

With LeadLander, you can:

  • Discover new leads
  • Validate interest from existing ones
  • Receive real-time alerts when prospects return to your website
  • Learn which parts of your product a lead cares most about
  • Use all of the above to improve your sales career opportunities 

You can sign up for a free 14-day trial of LeadLander today to experience the value yourself.

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