Perks such as flex work hours, lucrative pay and the opportunity to give back make sales a viable career path for millennials.
The job description for a salesperson has evolved in recent years. It’s no longer strictly about selling commodities. “Today, a salesperson assumes more of a consultant role,” says Dave Borrelli, Salesforce Area Vice President of Commercial Sales in Canada. “This is especially the case in the tech industry, where a salesperson’s job is to listen and understand their customers’ business challenges, and then provide the best recommendations.”
He notes that it’s an exciting time for millennials to get into the field, especially for those interested in a career path where they are helping people solve problems instead of convincing them to buy a product.
“Millennials want more than just a job,” Borrelli says, “they want fulfilling and meaningful careers where they feel like they’re making a difference.”
We continue to see headlines supporting this statement. Millennials are “primed to do well by doing good,” and place a high priority on giving back and being civically engaged.
But can a career in sales really deliver on these needs?
According to Borrelli, it can. He says Salesforce is committed to a strong philanthropic culture. In fact, the company credits its altruistic values for much of its recruitment and retention success. “We were founded on a corporate philanthropic model we call 1-1-1 — where one per cent of our company’s product, equity and time is donated to improve the communities we live in,” he says. “Whether it’s helping to renovate a teaching facility that serves 100 special needs students or banding together to build a community garden at a public school, it is very motivating and satisfying for all employees involved.”
Of course, not all companies in the industry work this way. And sales jobs still tend to portray the image of a pushy used car salesman. But Borrelli says this type of aggression isn’t necessary. “While there are times when some of these traits can help, they are not prerequisites,” he says. “Today, a salesperson needs to adopt a consultative selling approach and aim to help customers solve problems. That is the best path to be successful in sales.”
Still, perhaps the greatest appeal to a career in sales is the flexibility. We know the traditional 9-to-5 structure is dissipating, as millennials seek out roles that are more suitable to integrating work and life, rather than dividing the two.
“A career in sales provides you with the autonomy to chart your own course and control your destiny,” says Borrelli. “You don’t have to be stuck in an office from 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday. If you need to take a day off or take a vacation, you can simply plan your customer meetings around your schedule.”
He explains that many sales positions offer opportunities to travel and experience different cities, countries and cultures. Your network is constantly growing, as a career in sales means regularly meeting new people from various industries. And a strong network is an invaluable tool to helping advance career growth.
“Of course, a sales career can also be very lucrative,” Borrelli notes.
So, how can you launch into a sales career?
“I strongly recommend [connecting] with someone who is already in the field to get an understanding of what a day in sales looks like,” Borrelli says.
If you don’t have any connections in the field, he suggests searching LinkedIn for sales representatives who are currently working at the companies that are on your radar, and then reaching out for a call or coffee date.
You may also want to look up sales networking events in your city. Salesforce hosts a number of events across Canada, where attendees can meet directly with recruiters, managers and salespeople.
But like any viable career path, you should ensure your expectations are in touch with reality. “If you do get a foot in the door, you should be willing to work at an entry-level position and learn as much as you can about the field,” Borrelli says.
He emphasizes that sales is a marathon, not a sprint. “My best advice is to always be willing to learn more, no matter how long you’ve been working in the field.”
Are you considering a career in sales? Do you have any experience in the field? How do you feel about the sales career path for millennials? Share in the comments below.