A career in sales today is one without limitations. In the past, salespeople were locked into physical sales territories, bounded by state lines or counties or zip codes. With customers buying on line, through cell phones, laptops and IPads, the territorial lines are being blurred or torn down altogether.
In other professions, the mark of a successful career is moving up the corporate ladder. You may start at the bottom, but if you worked hard, continued to improve your skills and add value to the company and yourself, you could move from hourly to salaried; from staff to supervisor to manager. Each move brought more prestige and money.
Unfortunately, every move up the ladder brings more responsibility and stress. Expectations are higher, as are the stakes. Sometimes the monetary rewards aren’t worth the added stress and aggravation. Fortunately, a sales career can be rewarding and successful without ever becoming a manager.
A Forbes.com article, “How To Succeed In Business Without Becoming A Manager,” draws on wisdom from Andy Teach, an author and Youtube.com channel host of FromGradtoCorp. Being a manager may come with a big title, but it also comes with people problems. Not everyone has the skill set to manage people.
Managing people means longer hours on people issues--not meeting clients or networking for prospects. More time is spent dealing with planning, coaching and counseling employees, completing performance reviews, salary reviews and disciplinary actions. This takes time away from what most sales people love to do most—selling.
A sales position provides some autonomy and a flexible schedule. Your time and schedule is dictated by your prospect’s availability, servicing clients, taking care of customer complaints and cultivating new business. It also provides time to stop in at home during the work day, squeezing in the kids’ soccer game or take the scenic route back from an appointment to enjoy a sunset or favorite restaurant on the way. Having more time with family and friends without being tied to someone else’s schedule is a huge perk for sales people who love their freedom and ability to chart their own course.
Not every great sales person makes a great manager. It’s the same in any other profession. Management makes the mistake of promoting a great line worker, thinking she’ll do the same as a manager. It takes completely different skill sets. Plus, new supervisors are probably the most neglected group of employees when it comes to training, mentoring, coaching and support. Many new supervisors get discouraged and voluntarily go back to their previous positions rather than fail at a job they aren’t suited for.
In sales, you don’t necessarily have to move up the ladder to succeed. Success is in the numbers, and some sales people in the field can make more money than those who sit in an office. For sales, the excitement and fulfillment is in the hunt and the close. And, there are the incentives, bonuses, trips and sales conferences that are the added perks of many sales jobs.
Not everyone is looking for business cards with a fancy title. Sales is a singular profession in many ways. You don’t need a lot of direct reports to show your achievement. The size of your work team doesn’t matter. The size of your bonus check, accolades from happy customers and the freedom to create your own destiny are satisfying measures of success.
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