Step 2: Find Your Niche in Sales
Find Your Niche in Sales
Know thyself. It’s some of the oldest advice in the world and still some of the best. Knowing what you can do, what you like to do and how you like to do it is the starting point for finding the right spot for yourself in sales.
1. Personality — What kind of personality do I have?
Would I prefer meeting lots of people or fewer people at a time?
Do I like to be in the office or out of the office?
Do I like to travel or stay close to home?
Am I a “big picture” or “detail-oriented” person?
Am I proactive or passive in seeking out opportunities? Am I persistent?
Do I work better independently or as a part of a team?
Do I like challenges or would I prefer stability?
Am I interested in enterprising, where I start and carry out projects?
There are sales positions for nearly every personality type. Someone who is more introverted or passive in seeking opportunities may not fit the mold of a stereotypical salesperson … but don’t be so sure that they can’t be effective. That quiet person may thrive in a position that involves building relationships with only a few clients, and in using tools on the internet to locate opportunities instead of networking in person. It is important to find the best match possible for your personality to make sure that you are as successful and satisfied in your new career.
2. Experience — What have I done well in the past?
Do I have knowledge and experience about:
Showing, promoting, and selling products or services?
Creating marketing strategies?
Using a variety of direct or indirect sales techniques?
Assessing the needs or satisfaction of customers?
Assessing quality standards for services?
Looking at the work experience you’ve already had can lead you to the perfect job. Look at what came naturally for you and what didn’t. For example, a past job in food service may have involved customer relationships, promotion of menu item, etc. Someone who enjoyed working with customers in that capacity may find that experience translates well to a career in professional sales.
3. Interests — What sparks and holds my interest?
Do I have the desire to sell?
Am I drawn to a particular industry, such as finance, biotech, or advertising? Do I enjoy reading about that industry?
Am I interested in teaching others about a product or service?
A desire to sell is a good indicator that sales is a fit. Keep in mind that this does not mean you need a desire to cold call … that is difficult for many. It just means you enjoy connecting people with goods and services that can help them. If you are drawn to a particular industry then explore what sales opportunities may exist within the scope of that industry.
4. Basic Skills — What basic skills have I developed enough to use professionally?
Mathematical problem solving
Writing to communicate concepts and ideas to clients
Scientific concepts and methods
Study skills for learning new material
Proficient in multiple languages
Do what you are good at. If you are mathematically inclined, than financial services may be an area to explore. If you are scientific, you may explore sales opportunities for technical or scientific supplies. If you never got good grades, it may not matter…many acquire in deep technical knowledge outside of the classroom.
5. Social Skills — What are my personal strengths and weaknesses?
Explore the following areas.
Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Speaking — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Answering Questions — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do. Interests
Sales typically involves the ability to communicate well. Some careers weigh more heavily on oral communication, and others may weigh on
6. Technical Skills – How are my skills, and what skills would I enjoy developing through my career?
Explore How You Relate to the Following Skills:
Desktop Computer Skills
Reading and Creating Spreadsheets or Financial Statements
Creating PowerPoint Presentations
Navigating and/or Marketing with the Internet
Word Processing & Creating Reports
Creating and Editing Databases
Computer skills are becoming universally important in sales. Do not worry if you are not confident in your present skills though. Simply identify the career direction you want to go in and what technical work it requires. Most local community colleges and adult schools offer classes in Excel, PowerPoint, etc.