When talking about changing careers or upskilling, many people immediately turn to tech. Becoming a software developer, UX designer, or data analyst makes for a lasting and promising career. However, working in tech doesn't mean you need to be in a more technical role. Tech companies and startups need a variety of players beyond those building the product and there's one career that thousands of people are skilling into.
If you’re looking for a career that gives you a great income and the chance to truly succeed, look no further than Sales. A career in sales can provide you with impressive opportunities and the skills needed to succeed in your professional life.
Mastering sales skills can lead to all sorts of job options, whether that’s as an account executive closing deals, a sales engineer who works for independent sales firms, or a software sales representative leading others to success.
This field is a vibrant and fast-paced one, full of excitement and opportunity. As a sales professional, you’ll enjoy career growth, financial stability, and unmatched income potential.
So what exactly does a career in Sales look like?
What is Sales?
A modern sales career involves selling products and services by showing a customer how they can benefit from making a purchase.
Hubspot.com defines Sales as: “a term used to describe the activities that lead to the selling of goods or services. Businesses have sales organizations that are broken up into different teams. And these sales teams are often determined based on the region they're selling to, the product or service they're selling, and the target customer.”
Salespeople can develop their careers according to their specific interests, making sales an exciting career choice for anyone at any stage in life. There are several different reasons to choose a career in sales as your new career path:
1. Job Security
“If you are good at sales, you are never unemployed.” - John Noble
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Sales workers in the services and wholesale sectors will continue to be in demand because these occupations remain critical in building and maintaining customer bases for businesses.”
All businesses and industries need salespeople, which means there will always be job opportunities in sales. By the year 2026, experts at the BLS forecast a 5 percent increase in available jobs for manufacturing sales representatives, a 6 percent increase in available jobs for financial services sales agents, and a 7 percent increase in available jobs for sales managers.
Despite new tech and fresh business models, the skills and workload of sales professionals will always be crucial to closing deals with other people or companies. So much so that more than 15 million people work in the sales industry within the US alone. That’s about 5% of the total population.
If you can build relationships and bring in business routinely, you will have significant market value. People who have experience in sales also develop highly desirable skills in the career world such as persuasiveness, customer service, and confidence. If you use these skills to your advantage, employers will be unable to resist.
2. High Income Potential
Not only are salespeople always in demand in the marketplace, but they earn an above-average income as well.
The majority of jobs pay you a flat salary, there’s not too much opportunity to increase your income besides asking for a raise. But with a sales career, you can receive incentives, commission, and bonuses in exchange for your hard work and determination.
Ask yourself this question: What’s going to get you to your financial goals faster: a $45,000 a year, salary-only position, or a performance-based career where you have the opportunity to earn $100,000 plus each year?
Your compensation is directly linked to your ability to close deals, so with some dedication, you can make a lot more working in a sales position than in many other careers. Most sales positions also have a base salary, so if you’re still learning the basics of sales, you'll still earn a great salary while you’re working towards understanding how to crush it with commissions.
Some of the highest-paid sales jobs include tech products, financial services, and real estate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing sales representatives in the United States earn median annual salaries of $60,340. Financial services sales agents earn median annual salaries of $63,780. Sales managers earn even higher salaries; the median for this group is $121,060 per year. In comparison, the median annual salary in the USA is $27,020.
There are very few careers that offer the near-unlimited income potential that sales careers offer. Simply put, in sales, you are in control of your own income.
Most sales positions also offer a flexible schedule. The amount of flexibility, of course, differs from job to job and company to company but as long as you’re hitting your quota, you often have the freedom to set your daily schedule.
This allows you to establish a better work-life balance. Especially with many sales jobs being remote, this type of flexibility allows for you to make more time to workout, have lunch with friends, or close more deals!
This flexibility can enable you to choose your own work environment, work at your own pace, and schedule your day in a way that works best for you.
4. Continuous Learning
Being bored in a sales team is unheard of. A job in sales allows you to continuously learn new skills that will create a challenging but rewarding work environment for yourself.
Sales is a constantly moving career meaning there will always be something new to learn. The skills you learn in sales will allow you to move between companies or industries to new job opportunities easily. This means you’ll always be sharpening your skills and fine-tuning your strengths.
Skills like business communication, presentation abilities, negotiation skills, and storytelling are just some of the skills you’ll continue to learn while in sales.
5. Mastering In-Demand Skills
Sales skills are part of almost every job.
In sales, you’ll develop and master skills you can use to thrive in any area of your professional life. Sales careers require you to constantly grow and evolve your skills to suit the needs of the market. This means you’re going to learn skills that are transferable and applicable to any role you may take on in the future, such as time management, active listening, and relationship building.
There are ample professional development opportunities for salespeople, and companies often pay for their salespeople to receive additional training.
In sales, anyone with a strong work ethic can build in-demand skills and succeed.
6. Challenges...and REWARDS
Sales can be viewed as a harsh and unforgiving field to choose to work in. There’s constant rejection and sometimes you may feel like you’re not making any headway. Especially when you’re not reaching your quota.
But, in sales, it’s important to remember that each “no'' teaches you what your customers need in order to get a “yes”.
In sales, there will be ups and downs, but it's guaranteed that your work is making a difference. Knowing that your efforts helped your customer solve a business problem and beat out your competitors can be even more rewarding than the commission you’ll receive. Sales is fast-paced, exciting, and will always keep you on the edge of your seat.
The thrill of your victories and the motivation of the challenges make choosing a career in sales a no-brainer.
7. Career Stepping Stone
Research shows that 85% of today’s CEOs, Presidents, and senior executives come from a background in sales.
Knowing how to effectively sell is an asset you’ll need no matter what career path you choose to follow further down the road. In just about every career, you’ll need to influence other people. Whether it's asking for a raise, selling your team on a new idea, or convincing that venture capitalist firm to invest in your company, you need to sell. Sales will help you speak clearly, get along with many different people, overcome difficult challenges, and sell your ideas to others.
If you’re ambitious and willing to work hard, a job in sales could be a stepping-stone to incredible wealth, a lasting career, and a great work-life balance.
The above reasons aren’t the only ones why you should consider a career in sales, but they’re certainly some of the best reasons why many people are choosing sales as their next career path.
How Do I Know If Sales is For Me?
Every one of us is a salesperson already. Being in sales is about being a problem solver for your customer and getting them the best solution for their needs. Whether you realize it or not, you’re selling every day. Whether you’re selling sneakers at a shoe store, a drink at a bar, or even just trying to convince a friend to support a career choice you’re made, you already have the core skills to succeed in a career in Sales.
If you like the idea of being your own boss, want to take control of your life and finances, and have the self-discipline to work on your own, you have what it takes to succeed in sales.
You may be more prepared for a career in Sales than you think you are. Going from the career you’re in now to selling $50,000 deals every day in a tech sales career is not as difficult as you think. With programs like UMBC-Training Centers’ s Tech Sales Program in partnership with Virtanza, you can get synchronous, high-impact training with role plays and true-to-life business cases so you are prepared to crush it in a Sales role.
With credentials earned through a Sales training program, you'll have skills that make you much more highly qualified and exponentially more dangerous in the industry.
People who are a good fit for a Sales career are positive in the face of rejection, organized, and willing to put in the work behind the scenes.
What Sales Does For You
Build awesome relationships
Sales is one of the most social professions you can choose, making it a great field for growing your professional network and cultivating life-long relationships. A job in sales can help you learn best practices for networking in different fields, managing business relationships, and developing a good reputation. If you enjoy building long-lasting personal relationships, sales is a great way to do this.
Teaches you soft skills
Soft skills are a “combination of skills...that enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals.”
That’s why strengthening these skills is one of the best investments you can make in your career. It’s also why 57% of senior leaders today say soft skills are more important than hard skills. Soft skills like persuasion, adaptability and a growth mindset are all good skills you’ll learn from working in sales.
Develop a great work ethic
A great work ethic will accelerate your learning curve, support you, and serve you in every part of your life, even beyond your career.
How to Prepare for a Career in Sales
If reading everything up to this point has you fired up to jump into a Sales role, you might be wondering where to start. Luckily, there are a ton of ways to get started in a career in Sales, many of which you can do right now. Here are some ways to start:
Reading is one of the best ways to consume information. Here are some great books to read to get you started in your sales career.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
- Virtanza: The Art & Science of Successful Selling, by Debbie Holzkamp
- Secrets of Closing the Sale
- To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
- Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely
- SPIN Selling, by Neil Rackham
- New Sales Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting
- Hacking Sales, by Max Altschuler
Shadow a representative or mentor
Try and find a mentor who has experience and success in the sales industry you are interested in. You can learn a lot about excelling in sales by shadowing and learning from someone else who’s already done it. Take some time to listen to how someone else conducts successful sales calls, how they structure their day-to-day life, or try and set up monthly or quarterly meetings with your mentor to learn from them. Reach out on LinkedIn or ask friends who may know someone in a Sales role right now. Offer to take them out to lunch or for a coffee and tell them about your interest in a Sales career. People who have succeeded in their careers are often happy to help those looking to get into the field.
Commit to learning
Putting time and practice into learning something is one of the best ways to learn something new. Embracing a learning lifestyle whether you’re just starting out or continuing to learn. Read sales books, watch sales content on Youtube, or invest in a learning platform like LinkedIn Learning to help you sharpen your skills and pick up new ones.
Prepare a portfolio
Start building a portfolio that can showcase your skills and experience. Start a Squarespace website or build something out on Google Slides to prove to employers that you’re ready to start working in sales. If you can showcase past experience or training in sales that’s great, but if you’re just starting out, put any soft skills or training that you’ve had and update it further later.
Take on Sales projects for local businesses and offer to do a couple for free to help you gain experience and you'll also have something to add to your portfolio. Any experience in a retail or service industry role should go here too. After all, selling is a key part of any job in those fields. The more you can add to your portfolio, the better you'll look to a hiring manager.
Going through a short, stackable, and immediately transferable course that can take your sales skills to the next level is one of the best ways to prepare for a career in sales. If this course offers hands-on experience and Sales credentials for finishing the course, then it's especially valuable for getting you into a Sales career quickly.
Virtanza offers proven, effective online Sales training programs for adult students and degree earners. Virtanza partners with higher ed institutions like the UMBC Training Centers and UC Irvine to deliver high-impact, experiential training to a new generation of sales professionals to fill the hundreds of thousands of open sales positions.
Motivated learners meet several evenings each week for 8-13 weeks, and courses prepare you for success in everything from New Business Development to Indirect Sales, Territory Consultive System Sales, and more. Program graduates are on track to earn more and realize career success sooner than those with only job experience, and Virtanza’s network of Employers are ready to hire from the talented pool of candidates they consistently deliver.
Sales graduates report their career satisfaction at over 77% and ramp-up 50% faster than their non-sales educated peers. Starting a career in sales could change your life! If you're ready to upskill into a long-lasting, highly flexible career with an almost limitless earning potential, Sales might be the career for you. Learn more about one of Virtanza's amazing university partner programs to get started today.