The Road that Lies Ahead: Understanding the Different Career Paths in the Sales Industry
By Aditi Bhat
Sales is an evergreen profession. As the saying goes “A CEO sets off as a salesperson”, top CEOs today like Warren Buffett of Walmart, Howard Schultz of Starbucks and Samuel Palmisano of IBM, all started as field reps or salespersons.
The opportunity to earn much higher, a sense of pride and achievement, being driven to achieve and having the ability to head businesses over a period of time are a few factors that make sales such an attractive career choice. The demand for sales professionals tops industry talent demand in many sectors like FMCG, retail, BFSI, automobile, real estate and pharma industry.
Source: Search engine land
A recent survey done by TimesJobs Recruit X in 2018 placed Sales/Business Development among the top three profiles in terms of job share. The other positions were taken by HR and Medical.
Better than average pay cheques
The average salary for a sales executive in India is INR 342,922 with salary packages going as high as 6 lakh and above as revealed by Glassdoor data.
Diverse career choices offered in Sales
For a fresher taking professional training programs, sales job may only have one definition, but in reality there are multiple roles to play within the sales domain. Having a good understanding of the different roles in sales allows students to choose different career paths based on their talent and liking to attain greater job satisfaction and growth.
Broadly speaking there are four types of sales profile. Let’s take a closer look at each as a starting point to forging a career in sales.
Inside Sales is perhaps best known by profiles like tele-calling or direct mailing. It is true that tele-calling has evolved to become inside sales. But Inside Sales requires highly refined relationship building skills and in-depth knowledge of the products or services being sold.
Inside Sales professionals take time to do their background research about their clients and offer them value through consultation early on to build a strong reputation. Their approach is to suggest a solution to the problem as opposed to the spray and pray approach followed by tele callers.
Skills needed to become a good inside sales professional include excellent communication skills in spoken and written format; being multilingual can be an added advantage. You must have good convincing ability and persistence to excel in Inside Sales.
Job opportunities exist in almost every sector with BFSI, retail, telecom and automobile leading the list.
Outbound Sales broadly includes field visit to meet your customers and persuade them to buy the products or services you are selling. Outbound Sales generally requires you to build strong relations with your customers, understanding their needs and fulfilling them with your offering. A career in sales follows strict hierarchy where you may begin as a sales development representative and with experience hold positions like account manager, regional sales manager all the way to director of sales etc.
Interpersonal skills and relationship building are crucial skills for every sales professional. Innovative thinking, time management and team work are other skills sought by recruiters in the sales industry.
Job opportunities exist in virtually every industry with good remuneration for candidates who follow up their graduation course with boot camp training programs focusing on grooming industry specific skills.
Sales may look like an outward company function focusing on dispensing the inventory. But it cannot work in isolation and also relates to the inner workings of your company. Opening a new branch, streamlining supply chain or improving the efficiency of sales etc. are all carried out by Sales Support Operations. It helps different verticals of a company to work with synergy and is one of the most crucial departments in every firm.
Must have skills
Professionals with an analytical mindset, process driven approach and ability to work with different teams excel in Operations.
Process driven industries like banking, retail, automobile and pharma provide excellent opportunities to professionals aspiring for a sales profession.
As the name suggests, business development focuses on creating and acquiring opportunities to grow your business. It is placed in-between marketing and sales and focuses on determining how much the business can grow and where that growth will come from.
Business development professionals rely on sales field intelligence to draft business development strategies. It is a strategic approach to create new long term value creating relationship inside and outside your organization. Personnel with ample sales experience are preferred for Business Development roles.
A business development professional needs to have the same skill sets as a salesperson. He/She should also be knowledgeable, self-driven and innovative.
Job opportunities exist in virtually every industry.
As the name suggests, Pre-sales includes activities done before a customer is acquired. Pre-sales plays a crucial role in setting the field ready for the sales teams to succeed. Pre-sales professionals lay the groundwork for their sales team to be successful. Pre-sales is often labeled as sales support by some sectors and perform the role of analyzing potential markets, drafting the sales pitch for sales reps, providing product knowledge to sales teams and collaborating with the marketing team to align sales pitch with the marketing message.
Pre-sales professionals have an innate ability to use simple and concise language to communicate. They have strong interpersonal skills as well as sound knowledge of how marketing works.
They are employed in virtually every industry, as generating sales is the lifeblood of any business.
A strong foundation for a sales career
Source: Digital ideas
Today, to be industry-ready from the first day of joining, fresher professionals need to acquire skills that may not be included in their graduate program. Moreover, sales jobs are constantly evolving in an ever-changing industry landscape. Front line sales rolls require candidates to have excellent soft skills as well as good knowledge of the industry/product they are working with. Companies prefer candidates who do an intermediate course to become industry-ready and enhance the employability.
Manipal ProLearn School for Jobs offers classroom training programs that are industry-specific and offer intensive training by experienced industry experts and faculty. These hands-on training sessions include concept training with case studies and real-life examples to make candidates ready for a flourishing career in sales.