Job Title: Sales Representative
Type of Company: I sell electricity to commercial customers. Every town has an electrical utility, but the power they supply can be generated by one of several power companies. We obtain electricity at wholesale prices and sell it at a fixed cost to the end user (commercial customer).
Education: BS, Education (Yes, I studied to be a teacher!)
Previous Experience: I started out in business-to-business sales, selling telephone systems to commercial clients and later switched to selling telecommunications network services. After that, I helped originate mortgages.
Job Tasks: I make phone calls to prospective customers, trying to identify who makes decisions and determining (mostly by asking questions) how they could benefit from our services. I try to find out who's supplying them with power and how much they're paying for it and follow up, if I can, by pitching our services. Ultimately of course, I try to obtain a contract to sell them power through us. A part of my work is identifying my target audience or "market" and figuring out what makes the product I'm offering desirable.
All salespeople must manage their 'pipeline' -- the prospects that they think will pay off, or result in a contract. Businesses depend on steady revenues that are a result of solid sales projections. If you are honest with yourself about what can achieve, you and your employer will both win!
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Worst part of what I do is being hung up on. But losing a 'deal' after working months to put together a solution comes a close second. Most sales managers are just good salespeople who got promoted. They are not necessarily good mentors or good people managers.
The best part of my job is helping someone at another company improve the way his company operates by offering him a product that's a natural fit.
Job Tips: Everyone has something better to do than to talk to you about your service or product. Make sure you are compelling with your pursuit. You must truly feel you have something unique to offer the client in order to be convincing as a sales person. Some people can sell products better than they can sell services. Even though investments are intangibles, when you work for a brokerage firm, they refer to investment vehicles as products. When you sell internet or cable TV service, the provider of the service calls it a product. You can't hold it or touch it, but it is a "product." It takes the ability to understand and convey the benefits of a service in order to present it as a superior solution to new clients.
Find out what other successful people in your field do but don't idolize them or spend too much time following their careers. If you are focused on your own business, people will begin to follow you and ask you for what your secret to success is.
Additional Thoughts: If you fail the first time, try to get past the disappointment as soon as possible. There will be many pitfalls as you make attempts in your professional life. Try a new angle or a new situation. Salespeople live very interesting lives. The camaraderie amongst your colleagues along with the bonds you may make with your customers are lifelong relationships!
The inside stories from people actually working in the field.
Click a story title to show the story, and click the title again to hide it.
Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.
Most stories include:
Please also see our detailed information about Product Sales Representatives, including: