Scared By Sales? Why You’ve Been Sold a Lemon

You’ve been trawling the graduate job boards and come across a position for a Sales Executive. You’re keen to pick up a host of shiny new business skills and you’ve started eyeing that pile of student debt with alarm but you’re more Germaine Greer than Gordon Gecko and Wolf of Wall Street left you scarred for life. Sales, surely, isn’t for you.

Or is it? Sales is the highest paid career in the world, but many graduates are put off by a series of stereotypes that simply aren’t true. So before you turn your back on a world of uncapped earnings and free lunches, make sure you aren’t falling prey to one of these top five sales myths:

Sales Myth 1: Cold Call

Anyone who has ever had their Sunday morning interrupted by Dave selling double glazing may naturally regard speculative calling with horror. But would you have had the same reaction if Dave had been selling concert tickets for your all-time favourite band?

No good salesperson calls someone without first doing enough research to make sure that what they’re selling is relevant and interesting to the person being sold to. Yes, you will have to call strangers. But if you ever find yourself dialling a number with absolutely no idea why the person at the other end would want to hear from you then put the phone down and move on!

Sales Myth 2: Talk a Good Game

The prevalence of the ‘elevator pitch’ means many graduates think that as soon as you reach your target contact you should blurt out as much sales-speak as possible before the client leaves or hangs up. However, good salespeople spend most of their first interaction with a client in silence. This is because they understand that the key to sales success is not talking but listening.

When you first speak to a contact, ask lots of questions about their business and pay close attention to the answers. When you subsequently hit them with your pitch it’ll be so tailored to their business requirements that they’ll realise they have to seal the deal! 

Sales Myth 3: Sell Ice to the Eskimos

According to Jordan Belfort, a successful salesperson won’t hang up the phone until their clients either “buys… or dies”. But sometimes the product you’re peddling just won’t be right for a company. In these cases, be honest and scupper the deal. They’d have realised themselves that it was unsuitable sooner or later, and this way they’ll admire your integrity and feel you actually understand their business needs.

So when you call back with something that is right for them, they’re much more likely to buy. It’s like Noel Edmonds always taught us; sometimes you have to have a few “no deals” to ultimately hit the jackpot. 

Sales Myth 4: Man Up

Picture a sales floor. Seeing a testosterone-filled madhouse of phone-slamming, tequila-necking “lads”? You’ve been watching too many movies. It’s simply not true that the best salespeople are loud, obnoxious, and male. Good salespeople come from both genders and tend to be empathetic, analytical problem-solvers, because those are the people who understand what clients want and can deliver it to them.

Remember, most companies regard their salespeople as the face of their business because they are the ones who reach out to new contacts and who build relationships with important customers. As a result salespeople are expected to be highly professional at all times.

As a payoff, you’ll often get the opportunity to wine and dine clients in some very fancy restaurants and bars. Result!

Sales Myth 5: Those Who Can’t Do, Sell

Want to be a CEO one day but don’t like maths? After finance, a role in sales was the most common starting point for the Fortune 500’s top brass. Yet 7 out of 8 students would never even consider going into the industry. As such, they’re ignoring jobs that pay graduates an average of £30k for their first year alone and which develop highly-valued and transferable business skills including pitching, networking and negotiating.

It’s true that a sales job isn’t for everyone. But if you’re dismissing it just because you fell asleep during The Boiler Room you may be missing out. After all, those Ibiza holidays don’t buy themselves…

Got your interest? Check out our graduate jobs in sales!


Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internship jobs and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit our website.