8 Ways to Get Sales Experience

You must’ve heard a million times that someone is a born salesperson. But the truth is that salespeople are made, not born. To become an expert in sales you need both in-depth training and hands-on sales experience.

Some people may have better soft skills that help them succeed in sales, but very few rare candidates are completely natural. 

Here are a few ways you can become a better sales professional.

What is sales experience?

Sales experience is the total time and effort you invest in interacting and communicating with customers while convincing them to make a purchase. 

If you had a lemonade stand as a kid, you have sales experience. If you sold wrestling music cassette tapes in school, as our CEO used to, you have sales experience. 

In either case, you didn’t run an established business, but you convinced your customers to buy from you because you showed them that your goods will make them happier than they were before the purchase.

How to gain sales experience?

Match your skills & personality to the position you’re applying for

If you like building relationships and nurturing them over a long period of time, account management is probably perfect for you. In this job role, you don’t vanish once the sale is made. Your job is to offer continued support and to ensure the customers stay happy for the duration of the contract.

On the other hand, if you’re driven by target and performance-based rewards, you should definitely try commission-based roles. Not all sales roles are commission-based, but if you have what it takes, it can be an effective and profitable way of getting much-needed XP.

Finally, maybe you’d like to combine sales with communication using targeted campaigns. In that case, sales & marketing is perfect for you, as there are many positions that take the best of both worlds.  

In these roles, you’ll be a bigger part of the customer journey –  from generating leads all the way to converting them.

Start from scratch

Some people are born sellers and picking up the skills, communication, and charisma needed for closing deals comes to them as second nature. But if you’re in the other boat, developing the skills you need will take time. 

There’s nothing wrong with starting from square one. As they say, every great story has a humble beginning. 

There are many companies that are eager to hire entry-level reps with little to no experience.

start-from-scratch

But what’s in it for them?

  1. You don’t come into the role with bad habits from previous employers
  1. They can train you their way so you can become a successful sales rep by their standards
  1. They pay you less to start because they need to invest in your training 

Still, there’s nothing wrong with starting from scratch. It’s a good way to gain the experience you need to either move up or go to another company later on.

Read a sales book

The business world is full of accomplished sales professionals and entrepreneurs who are ready to share their advice and sales experience with the world. Many of them have written books on sales where they reveal their tips and strategies.

These books can be about specific sales-related topics, such as writing proposals, inbound selling, etc., but also about general sales topics, like the art of closing deals.

Do commission sales

This role might be less desirable than full-time employment from scratch but is potentially more profitable. In a commission sales role, companies will hire you to do sales and even train you, but you won’t get paid a set salary or hourly wage. 

You’ll get paid when you close a deal successfully. It’s basically a contractor role, but the possibility of earning is much higher than if you worked full-time.

Take a sales course 

Whichever path you take, you can always sign in for a sales course, webinar, or immersive training program. These are great ways to get sales experience while you are learning the ropes. 

These courses offer the basics of selling and often focus on activities such as role-playing. 

What is more, many businesses are aware that people are starting from square one, and may offer training programs for beginners who want to learn more.

course-in-sales

My advice is to look for those companies first when sending your applications. 

This way, you’ll be able to learn on the job, get the real-life experience you need, and have better chances of moving up within the same company.

Volunteer or join a non-profit 

Finally, if you’re struggling to land a sales role, you can volunteer or work for a non-profit organization. Many organizations are looking for people for cold outreach for fundraisers, political campaigns, or disaster relief. 

The experience you gain from volunteering will directly translate over to sales work. It will help you stuff your resume and provide the real-world experience you need to get your foot in the door.

Use your existing skills

Have you ever thought about how job ads are getting too ambitious these days? I mean, is there anyone who has 100% of the skills listed in the description? 

Not likely. 

If they have, those people are already way up in the hierarchy.

Keep this in mind and find a way to leverage your existing skills to the sales job you’re looking to get. Make sure to point this out while writing your resume, cover letter, and during interviews.

Know what you’re selling 

This might come off as a no-brainer, but it’s really important that you learn about the products or services you’re selling.

It’s not much about knowing how to sell eucalyptus leaves to a koala, but more about learning why the eucalyptus you’re selling will improve their lives.

selling-leaves-to-koala

Don’t sell coffee, sell a steaming cup of morning bliss. 

Selling is more than just convincing a person to buy something from you. Always think about what benefits they can get from the transaction. Walk a mile in their shoes and consider what is really that they need.

How to get sales experience in B2B?

Just to remember: 

  • B2B – transactions between two companies
  • B2C – transactions between a company and an individual customer

There’s no doubt that B2C positions can teach you how to sell, B2B sales are much more complex.

For one, the price points are higher, the sales cycles are longer, and you need to convince more stakeholders than just a single customer.   

With this in mind, the best what to get B2B sales experience is to be involved in a B2B sales process. 

But jumping straight into a sales position would be difficult, so instead start developing the basic skills you need to succeed in any sales position and work your way up to B2B roles. 

Once you expand your professional network, you can ask your connections in B2B sales to let you shadow them during their sales cycles. This way you can observe, ask questions, and get real-world experience.

Here’s what an expert says

We talked to James Thomas, our Head of Outbound Sales, to tap into his experience of working in sales.

So James, what s the biggest challenge someone has when starting a job in sales?

Phone fear. Many new sales reps have a natural resistance to cold calling. It’s one of the most important yet nuanced aspects of outbound sales. If you can do this well, the rest of the sales process is relatively straightforward by comparison.

What advice can you give?

Ask an established team member, read books, and PICK UP THE PHONE! Practice makes perfect when prospecting/cold calling for the first time. An essential skill for all sales professionals looking to establish a successful career.

It seems there’s no easy way around it, but as you say, once you get through with cold calling, the rest is a standard operating procedure.

Practice makes perfect, but how to you train a mindset? Is there a book you’d recommend?

Modern sales has evolved beyond many of the traditional methodologies that were successful in the past. To get a handle on the basics, I recommend two books for folks coming to sales for the first time: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy. Between these two books, there’s enough to get the fundamentals in place and begin to understand the mindset required for consistent success.

For the end, is there a sales myth you can bust:

Many sales cliches are true because the grain of truth applies universally, everyone has been sold to at some point, knowingly or otherwise.

Always Be Closing was once a popular term among sales professionals, which in today’s buyer-centric, customer-first sales processes feels a little outdated. Active listening, smart questions and reliable note-taking are far more likely to progress a sales conversation than a simple closed question.

How to describe your sales experience on a resume

When you’ve applied all the tips and tricks in this article, it’s time to move on to the next step in your career as a sales expert. 

While writing a resume that “sells” is the most difficult part of a sales hunt, for people in sales, CV writing is just another way to put sales skills into use. 

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Keep it brief. Hiring managers spend little time on each resume. Focus on the essential information recruiters want to see. 
  • Include your sales numbers. Your performance is a key indicator of the value you’ll bring to the next company. 
  • Use the sales skills you already have to present yourself in your bio and describe your duties in previous roles.
  • Point out other relevant sales information, such as sales awards, certificates, sales tools you use, and other related information.

Wrapping up

No one has 100% of the skills and experience listed in the job descriptions. This is why you should make the most out of your existing skills and try to apply them to the job at hand. 

In the meantime, keep learning the trade. Find out more about the products and services you’re selling, inquire about professional training and sales courses, and read books on the art of sales. 

Yet to focus on your education, you should automate and speed up repetitive tasks and processes that drain your energy and time. 

Here are 5 sales documents that can speed up your process and help you land more deals. 

Start sending high conversion proposals today

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