The 7 Things No One Tells You Before You Go Into Sales

Most well-meaning people stick to the usual talking points when discussing sales jobs. “You’d be really good at it,” or “It’s a great way to make money,” are common. But unless you speak to someone who has made sales their career and is willing to be completely honest with you, you’re not going to get the truth. Sales trainers can teach you technical skills, and motivational speakers and well-wishers can inspire you to throw yourself wholeheartedly into sales, but it’s only the wisdom of experience that can teach some of the most important lessons for a salesperson. We’ve decided to share some of these lessons with you, so that you won’t have to spend a decade or more in sales to learn them. After all, no person is an island.

Here are seven things that no one tells you before you go into sales:

1. Selling provides excellent job security

No one tells you that while it might not be easy to land your first sales job, once you have more experience (and demonstrable results) you’ll have great job security. Sales is one of the largest segments of the workforce, with some estimates claiming salespeople make up 15% of total employees. The fact is that every business needs salespeople to survive, and no matter what happens in the economy, if you can sell, you can work.

2. Don’t let yourself get too low, or too high

This is a lesson that is best taught through experience. When things are going terribly, you might feel like you’re never going to close another deal again. When things are going well, you might think the deals will never stop. But, instead of riding the emotional rollercoaster, you should train yourself to stay on an even keel. Never get too high, or too low.

3. Focus your energies on the right activity

Our attention gets pulled in 50 directions on an average day, and many of those distractions do nothing to help move the needle and close more deals. Activities that matter – like prospecting, follow-up, and closing deals – should take priority over all others. Make sure you set aside time daily to focus on those things, no matter what else comes your way. If you look at a top performer’s daily activity, and you can bet this is what they do.

4. Even if you have other plans, take advantage

It’s okay to acknowledge the fact that a fair amount people go into sales out of necessity, or simply because they aren’t sure what else to do. Even if you’re only working in sales until your art career takes off, or until you open your dream restaurant, a lot of the skills you learn will help in the future while helping you make as much money as possible now. Show yourself that you have what it takes, knowing it can pay dividends long after you’ve moved on.

5. Before quitting, consider the real reasons

As a profession, sales has a high turnover rate. Many salespeople get fed up and leave one job only to find themselves with the same problems at the next one. If you’re considering quitting, make sure that you’re doing it to advance your career, and not just because you want a fresh start somewhere else. In many cases, you may have a massive head start by staying where you are if you can address whatever is making you unhappy.

6. Work where you matter

The days of salespeople being treated poorly are winding down. Today’s technology companies (and arguably millennials) are leading a change in the way companies treat their employees, with more focus on company culture in order to attract and retain talent. You have no reason to stay at a company that doesn’t treat you with respect. Salespeople have to deal with a bit of mistreatment from prospects from time to time, but the mistreatment should never come from your employer.

7. It can change your life

It might sound dramatic, but it’s true. Sales can change people’s lives. It can give you the resources you need to live the life you’ve always wanted, and teach you things about yourself and other people that you won’t learn anywhere else. You’ll also make friends and memories that will always be with you, and probably have a lot of fun while you’re doing it. So if you’re considering going into sales, remember: it won’t be easy, but it can make a big difference in your life. Related: 5 Lessons That Politics Can Teach Us About Sales