I compare the first few weeks in a sales position to learning to swim. You jump in – doggy paddle and gradually expand your stroke until one day you realize you’re kicking and windmilling in a full “freestyle”. It’s easy to feel like you’re drowning under the weight of all the training and practice being thrown a you.
This isn’t a post about riding out the highs and lows – it’s everything in between. A day in the life of entry-level sales is a million small moments that make this a thrilling and fulfilling ride that will fuel you for the rest of your career.
Somehow however the best parts (in my opinion) of my chosen career are frequently overshadowed by the drone of “do sales, make money, win win win!”. These are the five best things about being in sales that no one seems to be talking about.
Your coworkers become your best friends
Your first few months as an SDR in many ways is similar to bootcamp in the military. Not to diminish what our veterans do for our country – I’ve hired veterans who have confirmed the similarities in bonds the experiences create. Both groups are pushed to their limits through exposure to new, uncomfortable activities and systems. Both groups build camaraderie because only they understand what the group is going through. To this day many of my closest friends I met in my first year in technology sales. When you spend 8 hours a day with a group of people it forms a unique bond.
Your greatest strength is being human
The hardest thing to sell against is the status quo. What gets a buyer to change is a strong understanding of the problem and confidence in the solution they’re proposing. That confidence and understanding primarily comes from a solid relationship with their sales person. The best salespeople are seen as genuine, relatable, and trusted advisors. Beyond that there are professionals who will intentionally mess up calls to break through the noise – and provide an opportunity for the target to “save” the salesperson. Being a human To be good at sales is to be good at listening and communicating – both things that will make you a better human.
The high from a win is addicting
There is no light without the darkness. When you make too many calls and send inumerable emails every little win means so much. You learn to get excited when you articulate a new concept properly, when you get a gatekeeper to “pass on the note”, when your boss compliments your opener. The biggest win is getting a meeting you worked hard for. Get that first big win and I challenge you not to get hooked.
Sales is a team sport
You manager is your coach, your co-workers are your teammates. Every day is a series of small goals each individual has to accomplish. Yes – the goals are individual. But ask any swimmer, ice skater or track athlete – they only perform at their best when they’re surrounded by the right team. Coach thinks you need to change your opening? Ask a coworker to help you role-play! Hand-off to the AE isn’t smooth enough? Work with your manager to improve the relationship so you both hit your goals. Everyone performs – everyone wins.
This will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do – but not for the reasons you think.
Your time as an SDR will push you to your mental limits. It will make you question your intelligence, mental fortitude, personal limits, strengths and weaknesses. It is a relentless, often brutal push to solve the unsolvable. What makes it brutal is it tests each individual in different ways. This job will find your weakness and force you to fix it when the stakes are highest. It pushed my perseverance to the limit, and others it challenged their fear of rejection, organization, temper control and every other characteristic you can think of. There’s no way to know how it will test you – but I can guarantee you will grow and look back proudly at all you accomplish.
The fact is sales isn’t for everyone – but if it’s a career path you’re considering there’s a strong chance saying “yes” will make you a better person on the other side. I know salespeople who have regretted a company, a deal, a manager, a coworker, a product – but none who regret taking the dive.
So are you up for the challenge? Have more questions about what a career is really like? Ready to take the plunge? Come talk to us – or our current fellowship participants, graduates or partner companies. Check out our Fellow of the Week posts for real tales from the trenches.