The sales landscape in 2023 is rife with opportunities, and many employers are eager to welcome new talent. However, if you don’t have any experience in sales, and especially tech sales, breaking into the field might seem like a daunting task. So how do you crack this nut? With passion, knowledge of how to use your skills, and determination.
This article features a step-by-step guide on how to turn what seems to be a obstacle into an advantage. Whether you’re a recent graduate, a career switcher, or simply someone looking to take your first steps in sales, we’ll explore strategies, tips, and insights to help you kick-start a fulfilling sales career.
Sales Jobs for Beginners
Let’s start with a few examples of the diverse range of jobs available for those just starting in the sales industry. Depending on your interests and skills, you may find a perfect fit in one of these roles, or you may need to explore other options.
Business Development Representative
Business Development Representatives (BDRs) focus on generating new leads and opportunities for the sales team. They often use outbound prospecting techniques such as cold calling and email outreach to identify potential customers and set up initial meetings.
Marketing, customer support, and teaching professionals often settle into BDR roles more easily. Their strong communication skills, customer-centric approach, and ability to convey complex information are well suited to the demands of this role. Individuals with extensive product knowledge or expertise in research and analysis can also find a smooth entry into the field.
Sales Engineers bridge the gap between technical knowledge and sales. They help clients understand how a product or service can solve their technical challenges, a task often requiring a deep understanding of complex solutions.
Professionals with technical expertise in fields such as engineering or IT may find it easier to transition into a Sales Engineer role, as they may be better at explaining how a product or service can solve clients’ technical problems.
A Sales Assistant position is ideal for those who are new to sales and want to gain experience. In this position, you will be assisting sales teams, handling administrative tasks, and contributing to the smooth flow of sales operations. It’s an ideal opportunity to develop fundamental skills while working alongside experienced sales professionals.
If you’re organized and detail oriented and thrive in dynamic environments, this role provides a welcoming entry point into the world of sales, helping you build a strong foundation for your future career.
Customer Service Representative
While not a sales role in the traditional sense, Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) often interact with customers, address inquiries, and may have opportunities to upsell or cross-sell products or services.
A CSR job can be an excellent entry point for those starting in sales because it provides a strong foundation in customer interaction and problem-solving skills. Dealing with customer inquiries improves communication skills and helps develop empathy, which are essential qualities in sales roles. The experience gained in this role can be used to transition into other sales positions, making it a natural stepping stone for those seeking a career in this field.
How to Get Started in Sales: A Step-by-Step Guide
In this section, we’ll dive into the practical steps of launching your career in sales and provide you with a clear road map to success. From learning the fundamentals to crafting a winning resume and following up after the interview, we’ll guide you through the journey of landing that dream job.
Step 1: Demonstrate Your Sales Commitment through Training and Skill Development
One strategy is to take the initiative and explore a variety of learning resources by yourself. Attend industry conferences, read books by sales experts, participate in online forums and communities, and utilize reputable websites and courses to stay updated and enhance your skills. But the question is whether these scattered activities can truly help you develop a consistent and dependable system of practical sales knowledge and skills.
A better option might be to consider enrolling in a comprehensive sales training program designed to offer a unique opportunity to not only build your understanding of sales but also network with peers and industry experts. With hands-on practice and an internship simulator offering valuable feedback, you’ll gain the practical experience that can set you apart in the competitive sales landscape.
Step 2: Get Your Sales Toolkit Ready
Before embarking on your sales journey, make sure your arsenal is fully stocked with tools to impress potential employers. Your “sales toolkit” includes critical elements such as your resume and online presence, which are crucial in making a strong first impression.
Update Your Resume
Start by revising your resume to reflect your latest skills, achievements, and sales-related experiences. Highlight any relevant accomplishments, certifications, or training you’ve obtained. To find out more about how to craft a winning resume, check out our articles on the top 10 resume writing tips for a career change and the do’s and don’ts for your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Optimize Your Resume
Not every sales job offer is the same. Picture your resume as your personal sales pitch, where you tailor every word to fit the role you’re after. Incorporate essential keywords and emphasize your qualifications that align with the particular position you’re applying for.
Improve Your LinkedIn Profile
In today’s digital age, your LinkedIn profile is your online resume. Make sure it’s up to date with your most recent accomplishments, skills, and a professional photo. To learn more, check out our list of 15 LinkedIn tips for optimizing your profile and getting noticed by recruiters.
Create a Customizable Cover Letter Template
Tailor your cover letterto the specific sales position you’re applying for. Address the hiring manager by name if possible and express your enthusiasm for the job. Use this opportunity to explain why you’re an ideal fit and what unique qualities you bring to the table.
Remember that your sales toolkit is the first impression potential employers will have of you, so put time and effort into creating a compelling one that sets you apart from the competition.
Step 3: Find the Right Job Opportunities
Now that your sales toolkit is polished, it’s time to embark on the quest to find the perfect sales job that aligns with your goals and aspirations. In this step, we’ll guide you through the process of uncovering job opportunities and the tools to make your search more effective.
Explore Diverse Job Sources
Make the Most of LinkedIn
Leverage the platform’s job search feature to effectively filter and uncover sales positions that align with your goals. Remember that networking is paramount. So, connect with industry professionals and actively engage with sales-related content to boost your online presence, which ultimately enhances your visibility, catching the attention of recruiters.
Step 4: Network with Hiring Managers
Building a network of professional connections can be a game-changer when it comes to landing your ideal sales job. In this step, we'll guide you through the process of reaching out to hiring managers, a strategic move that can set you apart from other applicants.
Identify the Gatekeeper
Once you’ve identified a specific sales job you’re interested in, the first crucial step is finding out who the hiring manager is. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for this purpose, especially if you have a premium account. Send a well-crafted connection request to the hiring manager and express your intention to apply for the sales position.
Initiate a Meaningful Conversation
Don’t stop at a connection request. Take it a step further by asking an intelligent, open-ended question that sparks a conversation. This can give you an inside track that may prove beneficial during the formal application process.
Consider inquiring about aspects of the role or the company that genuinely interest you. Your genuine curiosity can demonstrate your dedication to the position and your potential value as an employee.
Step 5: Start Sending Applications
Now that you’ve made important connections and identified promising sales job opportunities, it’s time to put your best foot forward by crafting an application that grabs the attention of potential employers. In this step, we’ll guide you through creating a persuasive application package that not only showcases your skills but also demonstrates your genuine interest in the role.
Highlight Relevant Achievements
In your resume and cover letter, focus on highlighting achievements and experiences that directly relate to the sales role. Use quantifiable data to showcase your accomplishments and demonstrate your potential value to the company.
Show Your Research
Mention specific details about the company and why you’re interested in working there. Discuss how your skills align with the company’s goals and values. This shows you’ve done your homework and are genuinely committed to the organization.
Polish Your Presentation
Ensure your application is error-free with impeccable grammar and formatting. Attention to detail is crucial, as it reflects your professionalism.
Step 6: Follow Up and Stay Persistent
Once you’ve submitted your application, the wait begins. But the journey to securing a sales job doesn’t end with the submission. Remember, persistence is a key attribute of successful sales professionals. It demonstrates your commitment, determination, and resilience—the qualities that will demonstrate your dedication to potential employers.
Follow Up Patiently
After you’ve applied, it’s essential to maintain patience while awaiting a response. Don’t let your application fade into oblivion, though. Politely follow up with the hiring manager at appropriate intervals to express your continued interest in the position.
Use follow-up emails as opportunities to thank the hiring manager for considering your application. This shows professionalism and courtesy.
Keep a record of your interactions and follow-ups, including dates and the content of your messages. Staying organized helps you maintain consistency in your approach.
Adapt to Feedback
If you receive feedback during the follow-up process, take it as an opportunity for improvement. Be open to constructive criticism and use it to refine your approach.
How to Increase Your Chances of Getting a Sales Job
Landing a sales job can be a competitive endeavor, but by equipping yourself with the right skills and knowledge, you can significantly boost your chances of success. In this section, we’ll delve into more strategies and tips on how to improve your chances of getting a sales job with no experience.
Master Essential Sales Principles
When launching a career in sales with little-to-no prior experience, understanding and mastering essential sales principles is your path to success. Here, we’ll explore why these principles are vital to a newcomer to the field, and further down in the article, we will show you where and how you can acquire them.
Sales can be intimidating, especially if you’re just starting out. That’s why learning basic sales principles will help you build confidence in sales, especially as a newcomer, offering you a solid foundation and ultimately boosting your self-assurance when interacting with potential employers during interviews.
Secondly, knowing the essentials demonstrates your commitment. Taking the initiative to learn and grasp the industry’s fundamentals highlights your dedication to the profession and your proactive approach to investing in your personal development.
Educate Yourself through Sales Literature
Entering the world of sales without experience can be intimidating, but arming yourself with knowledge is the key to success. This section will provide you with a curated list of the best resources for beginners in the field and includes both websites and books.
- SalesForce: SalesForce offers a wide range of resources, including articles, webinars, and guides, to help beginners learn the basics of sales.
- HubSpot Sales Blog: HubSpot’s Sales Blog features valuable articles and tips on various aspects of sales and customer relationship management.
- LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn Learning offers courses on sales, negotiation, and communication skills. It’s a valuable platform for self-paced learning.
- Salesloft Blog: Salesloft specializes in sales engagement and offers a blog with sales tips, strategies, and insights.
- To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink: This book is an excellent choice for beginners because it provides a broad perspective on the art and science of selling. Pink explores the idea that everyone engages in selling to some extent, making it highly relatable for newcomers to the field. It offers insights into the psychology of persuasion, which is fundamental for sales success, and provides a solid foundation for understanding the sales process.
- Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone: Grant Cardone’s book is an excellent pick for beginners because it dives deep into the sales process, emphasizing the idea that everyone is a salesperson. It offers practical strategies and techniques for mastering the art of selling and influencing others. Cardone’s no-nonsense approach and emphasis on the importance of sales skills make this book a valuable resource for those starting their sales journey.
- The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon: While the author challenges conventional sales wisdom, it’s a great choice for newcomers because it introduces a fresh perspective on selling. It explores the behaviors and techniques of top-performing salespeople, providing valuable insights into what sets them apart.
Observe and Learn from Sales Professionals
As a newcomer to the world of sales, there’s no substitute for firsthand experience and learning from those who have already paved the way. In this section, we’ll explore how you can effectively observe and learn from experienced sales professionals.
The easiest way to engage with sales pros is to join online sales communities and forums where they discuss best practices and share their expertise. One good platform for beginners to ask questions and learn from experienced salespeople is the Reddit sales community (r/Sales).
Another great option is to join the Sales Community run by LinkedIn, which focuses on sales training, coaching, and development. It’s a great place to learn about various sales methodologies and training resources.
Consider joining sales associations that host events, webinars, and workshops. The National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP), for instance, provides its members with materials, webinars, and opportunities for networking, making it a great place for newcomers in the field to meet seasoned pros and get some guidance.
Bonus Advice for Those Just Starting Out in Sales
1. Demonstrate Your Transferable Skills
Instead of just showcasing essential sales skills during the application process, include skills from non-sales jobs that are relevant to the sales role you’re pursuing.
Skills like public speaking, communication, problem-solving, and flexibility are essential for a successful sales career. Competencies in areas like research, negotiation, data analysis, time management, teamwork, and technology can give you a leg up on the competition.
2. Start with Entry Level if Necessary
Be open to starting at an entry-level position to gain experience and work your way up in the sales field. Roles such as Sales Assistant or Lead Qualification Specialist can be a good start if you have no prior experience. Once you have entered the industry, you can start climbing the career ladder as your performance improves.
3. Research the Company
For aspiring salespeople entering the field without prior experience, thorough company research becomes an invaluable asset. It levels the playing field by focusing your conversations with potential employers on your strengths, such as being prepared to address the company’s challenges and understanding the organization from the ground up.
4. Learn the Lingo
For newcomers entering the sales industry without experience, mastering sales lingo isn’t just a choice. It is a strategic necessity, as it facilitates effective communication and ensures that you are on the same wavelength as industry professionals.
Before You Go
In the dynamic sales landscape of 2023, where experience often appears to be the golden ticket, these strategic steps offer a clear path to success for those embarking on their sales journey for the first time. From preparing your sales toolkit to networking with hiring managers, each action is an important piece of the puzzle that can lead to your dream sales job. Good luck!