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Career Story: College Textbook Salesperson

College Textbook Salesperson

Job Title: Senior Sales Representative Publishing

Type of Company: I work for a publishing company. We mostly publish textbooks.

Education: BA, Speech Language Therapy, University of North Texas at Denton

Previous Experience: I started in the education sales market in 2000. Initially I worked in the K-12 segment with software and internet based sales to lead me to the Higher Education market in 2004.

Job Tasks: My primary responsibility is to convince professors at my assigned colleges to use the books that are published by my company.

During the fall and spring semester I can spend anywhere from 3-6 hours on my campuses. I cover the math, science and health education disciplines. Every year my company produces several new and updated editions of our titles as well as corresponding technology pieces. My job is to go and talk to the professors, find out how they teach their courses and the objectives that they have for their students and then try to pique their interest in one of my titles and the technology that follows that book. I am not responsible for knowing the exact content in the books but rather the approach, art work and best audiences. For example, I sell calculus and higher level math books. I didn't even take calculus in college, but because I know the author's style and the pedagogical features of the book I can still have an intelligent conversation with the professor about the book.

There are several factors that are involved in being successful at this job. It is very important to build good relationships with the people you are selling to because they want to work with someone they like and trust. It is also very important to be driven to succeed. I'm on my own all day and it would be very easy to decide not to work. But if you have clear goals it keeps you focused and unwilling to "slack off". Knowing the competition is also very important. You need to have a basic idea of the titles that they are publishing that year and the general content of their books as well.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: There are several great things about my job. It is hard to say exactly what the bes't part of my job is but I can tell you several things that make it a wonderful career. I have almost 100% flexibility with my schedule, which means on most days I decide where I want to go. I also absolutely love the campus environment, am very curious by nature and truly enjoy spending time with my professors. I have built great friendships with many of my customers and look forward to seeing them.

The worst part of my job is the competitive landscape and trying to deal with the used book market.

Job Tips: There are several facets of the publishing industry and it is a fascinating business. I would say that it would be very helpful to take at least one or two marketing courses as you will use this skill if you decide that you want to become a marketing manager or get involved in the editorial side of things. Public speaking is also a very important course to take as it will help you become comfortable speaking in front of people. Look for internships with companies that you are prospecting.

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