With the potential to make £30,000 in a graduate role (excluding a wad of commission on top), sales is definitely not a profession to be sniffed at. If you think sales isn't a career for those with a degree, stop being such a snob! The skills you develop during your degree will be invaluable. The reason why many large employers run graduate sales schemes is precisely because they want to exploit the skills, knowledge and talent which graduates can bring to the marketplace.
If you think sales isn't a career for those with a degree, stop being such a snob! The skills you develop during your degree will be invaluable. The reason why many multinational companies run graduate sales schemes is precisely because they want to exploit the skills, knowledge and talent which graduates can bring to the marketplace.
Go on, sell it to me
Still not convinced? Still not convinced? Here are a few reasons why many graduates enter and enjoy the world of sales.
- Pay and perks. Work in sales will usually involve gaining extra money through commission and, potentially, perks such as a company car.
- Potential for progression. If you demonstrate your aptitude for sales quickly, this could be rewarded through opportunities to progress to roles such as area sales manager.
- Constant communication. Sales often suits sociable people. Whether it’s over the phone, via video calls or face to face, you’ll be talking directly to clients or customers regularly.
- Range of options. As we explain in our article on what’s involved in a sales career, you could work in B2B or B2C selling. You could also choose to sell in an industry that interests you – whether that’s home décor or alcoholic drinks.
A chance to use your smooth talking
Perhaps your gift of the gab has accelerated you to the top of your grandad’s Christmas buying list or got you out of a sticky situation in the past. Now’s the chance to channel it into a career.
Of course, to be successful in sales you need to be able to convince people that your product or service is just so indispensable that they have to buy it. However, it's also about listening to clients/customers to find out what they want and value. Sometimes, this will help you to change your offering to suit them, which will help them to feel valued. So, your confident speaking should be matched by your ability to collaborate – and listen.
Perhaps you could look to any experience you’ve had of carrying out a retail or customer-facing part-time job to decide whether you have the potential. Did you enjoy talking to customers? Did you chase the thrill of selling ‘extras’?
Buying your way
Convinced yet? Well, before you start hunting for jobs, it's worth deciding which area of sales you want to work in. Take a look at the job descriptions in the sales job sector to begin exploring your options.
Commission rates vary from company to company, so hunt around for a job and pay structure that's best suited to you. Some recruitment consultancies specialise in graduates sales careers – do some research online to find one suitable for you, including taking a look at the sales vacancies advertised by TARGETjobs.
Clinching the deal
When it comes to applications and interviews, if you don't have any direct sales experience, retail work and collecting for charity can be useful to show you have experience of talking to customers.
While the exact interview questions will vary cross employers and roles, it is likely that recruiters will be looking to gauge your ability to persuade or influence others, your aptitude for working to reach targets and your resilience or ability to ‘bounce back’ from tough situations.
Remember the interview is a trial of how you come across to new people – including clients – so it's important you ‘sell' yourself well. Try to come across as professional and friendly. Smiling and nodding where appropriate, even during telephone interviews, can help you to both sound and (for video or in-person interviews) appear enthusiastic and interested.
Take a look at or article on how graduates get a job in sales for more guidance on what you need for – and how to go about securing – a job in sales.