Consider a career in sales, really

Posted 8/27/10

“Are you serious? Me, a sales person? No way, never happen!” That was how one of our local readers Terry felt for many years before finally, and …

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Consider a career in sales, really


“Are you serious? Me, a sales person? No way, never happen!”

That was how one of our local readers Terry felt for many years before finally, and after much resistance, accepted a position as a sales representative. You see, Terry, like many people had been unemployed for a long period of time and interviewing for jobs based on qualifications, past experiences and comfort zone.

Aside from associating the role with the characteristics of the stereotypical sales person such as dishonesty, sleaziness, lying, and an out for themselves attitude, Terry felt that his personality style would be a limiting factor. Additionally he was afraid of failure.

As Terry put it, “Despair and need forced me to look for work, any kind of work, and the first offer I received was to join a local company as a sales person.” Terry was sure this would be a placeholder, a stepping stone, something that would help pay the bills until he could find a “real” job. Fast forward six months later and Terry is happy, making money, having fun, enjoying a flexible schedule, and basically having the time of his life.

You see, he became a sales person in the industry where had served as a technician for many years. He had incredible industry and domain expertise. Terry met others on the team and at trade shows and conferences and realized that he was in good company, surrounded by solid individuals who take their profession seriously and go about their business professionally. These were not the stereotypical sales people he had conjured up in his head. He realized that this was more myth than fact.

My point this week is this, when asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, none of us raised our hands in elementary school and hollered, “I want to be a professional sales representative.” We didn’t even see it coming in high school or college. But somehow, someway, and according to Selling Power Magazine, there are more than 17 million professional sales people in the United States with another 16 million people that are in sales through direct marketing and home based businesses. That is more than 33 million sales people in the United States alone.

Many of you reading this column right now have so much knowledge, vast industry experience, the willingness to work, and a need to make some money. There are companies right now looking for you, looking for individuals with industry and product knowledge even though they lack sales experience. So if you have never in your wildest dreams ever imagined yourself in a sales role, maybe it’s time to reconsider a new career.

Thanks for your email Terry and for allowing me to share a little part of your story and I look forward to hearing all of the views about sales and selling careers at So let’s go sell somebody something and make it a better than good week.

Michael Norton, a resident of Highlands Ranch, is the former president of the Zig Ziglar organization and CEO and founder of


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