After an engineering degree, it’s common for students to get engineering jobs that mostly involve highly technical responsibilities. The front-office roles (like sales and marketing) are general taken up by people with business degrees (e.g. MBA).
As an engineering student, Abhishek Kochhar got interested in extra-curricular activities that involved selling. He talks about how that informal sales & marketing experience in college helped him get a sales job as a fresher in India. he also goes on to share how a good exposure to sales can transform just about anyone.
I am sorry beta, you can have it next time.
And that’s when you failed at selling for the first time in your life. It was bound to happen; you wouldn’t have known better back then!
As and when a human being grows up, he learns more about what he really wants. He grows up and learns more about what he wants from others.
The problem comes when others don’t want to give it to him. And that’s when his sales training starts!
Selling, in its most rudimentary form is nothing but persuasion. It is an art and not a science, simply because there’s nothing mechanical about sales (though some sales professionals wouldn’t agree. It’s okay; we all at times feel that our job is the most monotonous piece of work in this world).
It is one of the most common skills needed for anybody to succeed, both professionally and personally.
Primarily because every conversation two people have involves selling of an idea. And as Ben Affleck rightly said in Boiler Room, either you sell the prospect why he should buy or he sells you the reason why he can’t.
Let’s look at some simple examples of how our selling skills are used on a daily basis, without even us noticing.
When we convince the opposite sex to go out on a date with us, when we send that appraisal document to our manager, when we make an SOP for our dream university and even when we perform on stage; we are trying to sell an idea to someone.
It takes less than ten seconds for the other guy to form a judgement about an idea and ridicule it, probably one-hundredth the time it took for the creator to come up with it.
And that is why; the art of selling can seldom be perfected.
Unlike how it is misinterpreted often, there is a considerable amount of difference between good communication and good selling skills.
In fact, good communication skills are just an added advantage for the seller as with that, he at the least knows how to drive the message home.
We all have read in a lot of blogs and articles about how one should have some hardcore sales experience at least once in their lifetime. But what does a good sales experience really teach us?
Allow me to share my example of how I ended up being part of a sales and marketing based career without a formal marketing degree and what led up to it.
I was always an expressive person. As a student of Manipal University, I chose to join an organization called AIESEC, which provided me more of a parallel education by throwing me opportunities and responsibilities that a college student doesn’t usually come across.
I consider that as my pre-MBA training.
Manipal and AIESEC were my tipping points towards building above average selling skills. Being part of those made me communicate a lot more than I did.
In fact, I organized and delivered sessions to motivate people who were barely 1-2 years younger than me and were still working under me while I headed the Marketing vertical of the Manipal chapter of AIESEC.
While doing all that, I was trying to sell the organization’s values to the subordinates in the organization who were almost my age and had agreed to work purely on a voluntary basis.
I evolved, working on local and national level events and in a global learning environment, which slowly and steadily polished my selling skills to the extent that I landed up a hardcore sales and marketing oriented job in one of the fastest growing Ed-Tech companies in India, Think and Learn (popularly known as Byju’s).
How I have changed after a year of this work experience is something I really value.
When you become a successful sales professional, it brings up a lot of confidence that was buried deep inside.
You strongly believe in the idea of getting things done using key interpersonal skills that are your USPs as a seller.
Every person I want work from, every professional bottleneck I want to remove is a lead or a prospect to me.
In my case, I use my USPs of knowledge, consistency in lead engagement and decent communication skills to walk my way through any problem; personal or professional.
Not to say that a great sales professional has no problems in life, (our targets haunt us even in our dreams!) but one gets the confidence of approaching any argument with good calculation of the words that he’s going to use to convince the other guy; and still selling is not a mechanical process, it’s an art.
And every person may follow a different way to master it.
There are numerous ways to reach a point where you start being more than a novice as a seller.
Like everything else, practicing selling makes you perfect. One might or might not be in the sales industry to undergo this practice.
For example, the guy working on his desktop every day, building software for the most important projects, may start building up his selling skills by just bringing in some change within his team to avoid the monotony of coding.
He may also put his skills to use and create some technology solution for the society!
My point is – taking initiative not only shows your leadership potential (pretty important from an MBA point of view), but also puts you out of the comfort zone and while you’re at it, you create something new which needs to be pitched to the world.
For many of us, our intellectual needs are not fulfilled because we keep doing the same work again and again.
If we try to step aside from the usual routine and do give a try to creating something new, something original and our own, we will want it to be accepted by the audience out there.
Getting up to create that something is just the first step.
Starting to sell it to our peers is a different chapter all together; just like how product development follows product marketing. So being part of some hardcore sales experience is up to us.
Some of us already are in the field and the rest of us just need to find or create that thing that will be the stepping stone of our journey to become an excellent seller.
Read these related articles:
– How to get a job after college without experience
– How marketing works in any business or company
Image source: Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year (Yash Raj Films)