Using face-to-face sales as a launchpad to other careers

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As well as being a potentially enjoyable and lucrative career path in its own right, face-to-face sales can serve as an effective launchpad to a wide range of other roles. Here, we take a look at how this type of work can benefit you in the future if you choose to move into a different field.

Increasing your confidence

Perhaps most importantly, face-to-face sales can give you a major confidence boost. Many people mistakenly believe that in order to get into sales roles in the first place, you have to be highly confident. As direct sales specialists Appco Group point out, a broad spectrum of personalities can in fact flourish in this field, and lots of people find that the roles help them to increase their confidence and self-esteem. You can take the added sense of self-belief you build in these positions and use it to help you fulfil your ambitions in other areas.

Learning to think fast

Direct sales can also help you develop your ability to think on your feet. Working in the field, you’ll have to respond to customer questions quickly and effectively, providing informative and engaging responses on the spot that address people’s needs and concerns. As well as extolling the benefits of the products or services you’re selling, you’ll need to listen carefully to the expectations and preferences of customers and adapt your messages accordingly. Being able to think clearly under pressure and come up with appropriate responses can serve you well in a whole range of careers.

Learning to negotiate

On a related point, sales enables you to hone your negotiating skills. Interactions with potential customers can be complex and they are always a two-way process. Knowing how to arrive at an agreement that suits all parties is fundamental to achieving success. This ability can prove useful in a variety of jobs. Whether you need to come to a consensus with your colleagues on a particular issue or deliberate the details of a contract with clients, an ability to negotiate effectively should serve you well.

Honing your communication skills

Communication is a fundamental element of face-to-face sales and by interacting with a range of people on a daily basis, you should find you’re able to fine tune these skills. Even individuals who don’t consider themselves to be strong communicators when they first go into sales roles often find that, over time, they become highly effective at expressing themselves to a variety of people. Bear in mind that this doesn’t only benefit those who move onto other customer-facing positions. Because of the importance of effective communication between colleagues, it is important for workers in the vast majority of jobs.

 

The easiest time ever to start a business. Seriously.

Seriously? After the credit crunch and double-dip recession? Yes.

Sage recently carried out a piece of research on entrepreneurship in the UK and found that…

… more parents (50%) are considering starting their own business in the next 2 years than those with no children (40%). One in five budding entrepreneurs wants set up their own business as they want a job that fits around their family life.  However, on the flipside, half said they are concerned about starting their own business as their family life means they appreciate the stability being employed gives them.

To that I would say “So what’s stopping you?”. The old days when you had little choice but to give up your job, get a huge bank loan and then work full time on your start-up are now over.

Instead, you can start a business in your evening and weekends, test your concept and grow your entrepreneurial muscles all without risking more than a few hundred pounds. How? Start any business that doesn’t involve a commitment to bricks and mortar or much stock, so I’m talking eBay, pop-up shops, Etsy and stalls at events or markets as well as online stores.

In my experience, what holds people back is the way we have been trained to only accept payment in return for employment. There’s this weird mental barrier in finding something that people want to buy and exchanging it for money. Learn more about this exchange process (selling in its most basic, one-to-one form) and how to do it well and you’re well on your way to starting up on your own.

Yes, the fact that starting up is so easy means that there’s a lot of competition and many copycats out there. But many don’t have the stamina, creativity or determination to keep going. You do.

So are women’s attitudes different to men’s? Sage say..

Women (41%) are less likely than men (44%) to consider starting their own business in the next two years; with the greatest challenge for women (23%) being not knowing where to start. For men the biggest perceived challenge is access to funding (28%). Women also worry more about the stress of starting their own business (30%) but interestingly are less likely than men (19% to 24%) to feel they don’t have what it takes to succeed in the current economic climate.

It’s no surprise that women are less willing to risk debt, and I’m sure the fear of stress comes from already having a lot on our plates.   But how much of this is a vague fear that comes from out-of-date assumptions about what it takes to start a business?

Of course, if you genuinely have problems with debt then it’s best to seek insolvency help or debt recovery advice or get in touch with the Citizens Advice Bureau.

As for the economic climate, yes people are more careful with their money at the moment. But there are signs that things are picking up and our communities are actively looking for new businesses to revive them. The Portas Pilot Towns (my home town Bedford is one) are a great example of this.

So don’t be held back by outdated beliefs about starting your own business. Keep it simple: find something, sell it and learn from the process. Then repeat it.

Want some company as you start your business? Click here to get my newsletterI’ll also send you a copy of  my e-book Running a business around a family: 9 steps to success.

Using technology to make sales

I thought I’d just share how JJB Sports are using technology to join together selling their products both offline and online. These days, customers  don’t really see a gap between buying in a shop and online, they just want the item. And they want the same price online and off, too. Take a look here…

 

 

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