3 Most Common Misconceptions About Sales: Take This Quick Test
There are a lot of negative stigma's that are associated with sales, some more justified than others. But it is always most certainly a mistake to paint something or someone with the same brush. This morning i'm writing to you to hopefully give you some unbiased insight into the career of a sales person. Hopefully by the end of this article you will have gained enough insight to decide if this is a career path you would like to break into, or affirm your belief that you would rather die before picking up the phone and cold calling someone. So let's evaluate the misconceptions of a career in sales shall we?
There is a Sales Personality Type
Perhaps one of the best places to start in determining whether or not you have a strong predisposition for sales would be to evaluate your personality type. One of my favorite tests for evaluating your personality would be the Myers Briggs Test. The test is an introspective self-evaluation questionnaire that will demonstrate one's differing psychological leanings and how they perceive the world around them and make decisions. You can take the test HERE.
The strongest personality outcomes for sales are as follows, in no particular order: ENTJ, ESTP, and ENTP. The "E" standing for Extroversion, there is no mystery as to why these three personality types lead with this as the strongest trait. Being a people person and thriving in social environments is essential for a successful career in sales. Two of the personality types are followed by "N" for Intuition, having a strong nose for where a prospective deal may or may not be going or for hunting new opportunities, this trait would prove useful to any salesperson. The "S" in ESTP stands for Sensing, which I would argue is very similar to intuition, but more of an understanding of the current situation you find yourself rather than having a "gut" feeling about where something that has yet to happen. All three types have a "T" as the third trait, standing for Thinking. "P" stands for Perceiving and the "J" is for Judging.
Now, despite these top 3 personality types, you actually can find all 16 Myers Briggs personality types in sales, it just really depends on the nature of the role. For example, you are going to find some competent introverts with a strong intellectual and analytical mind who are some of the best Sales Engineers in their company. They posses enough competencies to engage a prospect and be social but the thrive in the analytical and organizational detail required to understand the complexities of their product and how it works and more importantly, how it integrates with the prospects current infrastructure. So regardless of the results of the test, there is a sales role out there for you! You just need to find it.
One of the biggest misconceptions about a career in sales is the fear of an unstable income. Now, yes, some roles may offer more volatility than others, such as 100% commission, but I would argue that a true professional can predict their annual income with a accuracy and allowing for margin for variance.
A true professional sales person will manage their pipeline with an unwavering commitment. This will allow them to more accurately forecast their commission income and predict what they will be taking home by the end of the year.
Regardless, most sales companies offer a competitive base salary, benefits and commission opportunities, making it far more lucrative than most exclusively salaried positions. I would argue there is far more to lose in a career or job that offers you a fixed income only. Despite your contributions, efforts or achievements, you will continually earn the same amount of money month in month out. This makes multiplying your money more difficult, you often have less money for investing or for play, or have long-term savings plans that have to be implemented jut to buy a new sofa for the living room. Rough. In sales, you can live a life built around your base salary and take the additional income generated through commission for investing, purchasing property, or buying that sofa for the living room, without having to make a sacrifice somewhere else. So who is more unstable after-all?
Sales People are Dishonest & Aggressive
This third point really ties back into the initial one, not all sales people were created equal. You do not have to be willing to do anything and everything in order to be in sales. In fact, the image of salespeople has been significantly damaged by a dishonest few, who unfortunately make the 6 O'Clock news when it hits the fan. We've all heard about the U.S. housing crash that began in 2006. Well, these mortgages should not have been written in the first place as they were guaranteed to fail, but the mortgage agents did it anyways. We've seen hedge funds and stock investors embezzle millions of people's hard earned money for their benefit only and no benefit to their client who they were supposed to be serving and advising. These major news events have created an overall distrust for sales professionals in the past decade that had not been seen before.
That being said, for every news breaking story of someone losing their shirt to a bad deal or con-artist, there are a million more where a sales person delivered on their promise and commitment to their client(s) and went the extra mile for them in the process. A sale begins when value is exchanged for value. The prospect needs to perceive what the sales person has to offer as something that is of value or that will add value to their current business or life. If the perceived value exceeds their value for their money, they will be willing to exchange it with you. What separates a great salesperson from a dishonest one is their approach to the prospect or client. Great sales people approach their prospects from a consultative manner, not an aggressive one.
A consultative sales person asks a lot of penetrating questions to get down to the real pain points or difficulties a prospect is actually having. Once they've heard the prospects story and understands their story, the sales person needs to determine if the product or service that they offer is of actual benefit to this prospect. If it is not, the attempt to sell this person needs to end immediately. For the dishonest and aggressive sales person it would not. It would continue in an attempt to extract their value (money) by any means necessary. No one is safe.
An honest sales person that determines this prospect has a genuine needs for their product or service after listening to their story will then proceed to show the connection between what is missing for that prospect and how their solution fills those gaps. This is not an aggressive style, it is a consultative and conversational style. There is nothing uncomfortable about a genuine conversation when you stand behind your product and actually can help the prospect.
Only the weaker sales people are aggressively trying to force their product on to a prospective customer and once they succeed they disappear never to be heard of again, whether the customer received their product or not, or had follow up questions etc. The good sales person is there for their customer, even if that means picking up the phone 6 months after the initial sale.
So, we've learned that although there tends to be a strong leaning towards 3 major personality types for sales, all leading with a strong disposition for extroversion, there are a variety of personality types in sales because their are a variety of sales role types! So, if you are considering a career in sales but find yourself on the fray of the common personality types don't worry, there is likely a company and sales role that is designed and best suited to your personality type.
As for the income thing...just be great at your craft, this is something you should do no matter what industry you are in. There aren't too many opportunities out there that allow you to double or triple your base salary based on your individual efforts and contributions to the company. It opens up options to you and your family and can speed up a lengthy saving strategy from a fixed income mindset.
Lastly, we're not all shady. Like in life, you are going to encounter good and bad people alike, in all sorts of careers and walks of life. There is no "douche bag" magnet attracting only immoral slime balls to a career in sales. Some of the most people-centric and morally grounded people I know have a career in sales and guess what? They are usually the top performers on their team. I hope this helps debunk some of your reservations about a career in sales or sales people in general. If sales is something you have been thinking about but have yet to take the plunge I would encourage you to look into it. It will change your life.
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