For The Joy of Sales

Find a job you like, and you will never work a day in your life.

Teachers, career counselors, and motivational speakers have shared this nugget from antiquity with students, job seekers, and dissatisfied workers. It is sage advice. Having spent four decades in the sales profession, I can attest to its validity for salespeople.

For some people, sales is a calling and then a career. For other people, sales is an entry-level position into business. After the trial period, it may become a launching pad for something else. For some people, sales is a proving ground to see if they can make it in the marketing field. For Liberal Arts Majors, Sales is a way to assimilate into a world they may not have planned to join. How people arrive in this profession doesn’t matter. Sales is an exciting career for those who want to risk the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the business world. For most people, there is no greater challenge in business than succeeding in the role of a rainmaker.

Sales offers a way to serve others, solve problems, and build relationships. Some sales positions offers the opportunity to travel to places most people would not visit on their own. This broadens their perspectives. Sales demands that salespeople set aside their own biases to see the world in others’ terms, which results in personal growth. This transcendent quality of sales is reinforced as salespeople become part of a team that creates value for their companies and customers. Value creation is a meaningful experience for everyone. Salespeople have the privilege of experiencing this daily.

Sales allows salespeople to test their mettle. If salespeople have a compensation plan that involves an incentive for performing, they are paid what they are worth. Sales is the one true meritocracy in business. That’s why it motivates salespeople. There are no participation awards in sales. There are no third-place trophies. There is no simply going through the motions. Order-takers soon discover their companies and customers want more than a warm body in a hot territory.

The starkest reality and most exciting dynamic of sales is that salespeople are paid to make sales, not calls.

Salespeople must produce or perish. Some people are intimidated by this reality, and that’s okay. There are many other ways for those people to create value for their companies. Those people who make sales a career understand the reality of producing and are motivated by the challenge.

Whether Confucius, Mark Twain, or a Princeton Professor coined the opening quote doesn’t matter. It is sound advice. Finding something that is enjoyable to do and doing it with great pride and effectiveness is a prescription for success in any profession. It is absolutely true for salespeople.

Tom Reilly is literally the guy who wrote the book on Value-Added Selling (McGraw-Hill).