I can’t actually guarantee that some clown won’t go and crash the world economy again (and if you are working in Aberdeen just now you’ll be thinking that your own economy has, if not crashed, certainly been a bit damaged), but I can, just about, guarantee that if you are a good salesperson then someone will always want to employ you. The problem for many people is that they don’t think they can ‘do’ sales. So what can I say to persuade you otherwise?
Well, how about ‘how much money would you like to make?’
That’s the great thing about sales. If you are good at it you earn a lot of money. Moreover, unlike most other jobs, the amount you get out is directly related to the success of the work you put in. And while you may think nobody will be interested in employing you because you don’t have the necessary ‘sales skills’, let me re-assure you. There are many people who are seemingly as far removed from sales as it’s possible to be but who go on to change careers and command premium salaries.
Technical sales is a difficult area for many companies. In particular, it is an area where no matter how good you are at selling if you haven’t got the necessary industry knowledge then you’ll struggle. It’s hard to teach even the most brilliant salesperson about the real nitty-gritty of gas detection equipment, valves, flow-meters*, bearings or engineering machinery, but conversely, those with the industrial know-how can quickly learn how to sell.
So, if you have had, say, around 10 years as a CNC Machinist but are fed up working shifts (or maybe just want a change of scenery) and are prepared to move into sales, then employers will be bidding very highly indeed for your services!
In fact, almost any background in engineering is likely to be suitable for a career in technical sales. The oil and gas industry, given its current difficulties, is an obvious source of potentially great technical salespeople. Their experience means that they are acting almost as consultants rather than salespeople, providing real technical knowledge and expertise to help match the customers’ needs to the products they are selling.
OK, I know you are still worrying that you have had no sales training, but this can be rapidly overcome by intensive training and most good companies know it’s worthwhile taking the time to invest in those with the specific industry expertise they urgently need. Continuing professional development in sales is usually good too: for those with managerial skills the sky really can be the limit.
Another great benefit of technical sales is that you are often working on your own initiative. You plan your own day and are given responsibility, within certain parameters, for meeting your targets. That individual responsibility also extends to how you handle your customers. If you like thinking on your feet and overcoming challenges, then you’ll probably be able to counter any objections (think of them as ‘requests for further information’ rather than reasons why someone doesn’t want to buy from you!), and if you can counter objections and ask someone if they are prepared to do the deal then you’re going to be a success. Add in your industry-specific skills and you’re potentially going to be a big success. Win-win as we salespeople say!
Stuart McRobbie, Director, Nine Twenty Sales and Marketing
* The hardest job I have ever filled was for someone to sell Ultrasonic Flow Meters.