Q: I am a freshman in college. I want to get into a professional sales career when I graduate from school. What can I be doing through my college years to gain some good experience? I don’t want to land a dead-end job after graduation.
A: I am impressed by your question, especially coming from a college freshman. Some of the best and smartest resources available to me are my clients. I consulted Jon Carson, CEO of BiddingForGood in Cambridge. The engine of Jon’s e-commerce business is his inside sales team. Jon’s advice:
The best route is to see if you can find an internship working in an inside sales organization in a role as a lead qualifier or an appointment setter. Just as marketing has trended to the web because of the inherent measurement, sales is trending to the inside model vs. outside because of the increased measurability. The field of sales is trending from art to science so you need to find an internship that will expose you to the science of sales. One way is to intern in a support role in CRM administration for tools like Salesforce or Landslide.
Sales roles are increasingly measurable. Few sales folks get to spend days on the golf course anymore. Instead, they are constantly filling their pipeline, developing a good referral base and closing business.
Internships and summer/part-time jobs are a great way to test the waters for sales (or any industry). Plus, you will be gaining valuable experience. Good sales people are often tenacious, motivated by a goal or a metric and resilient. Resiliency is important. Why? Sales people tend to be told “no thanks” more often than not. It is critical to be able to be able to make your next call with the same energy, passion and enthusiasm. You have to be able to shake setbacks and move on.
Lastly, think about joining LinkedIn now. LinkedIn is an online networking tool. The more contacts that you have when you graduate, the better.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.