A Career in Sales

February 7, 2009

I was tagged by Axinia to write about all the jobs that I have held till now. So, here goes:

Market Development Executive – Sales

Sr. Sales Executive

Sr. Executive – Marketing

Sales Manager – South

As you can see, there is one thing that is common with all of them – Sales.

Till my final year of Engineering, I wanted to become a Software Engineer. But two incidents predominantly changed my mind. As a part of the final year curriculum, a technical project needs to be done by everyone. I wanted to do this project myself. I had selected a topic and short listed the hardware and software components required for the same.  But, in spite of my best efforts, I was not even able to start with this project. Secondly, I happened to interact with a few seniors who were employed in big software companies. The feedback they gave about their jobs, was far from impressive! These two incidents moved me away from a technical field of work. The question was – What else could I choose as a career?

Till I finished my education, I was quite an introvert. I was reserved and my pursuits were more intellectual in nature – Reading books, trying to learn a musical instrument, writing something interesting and forwarding it to my friends (Now you know why I am addicted to Blogging!). So, I didn’t have the qualities which I thought were required for a good Sales person (I was not outgoing, talkative etc). This was a driving factor which led me to choose Sales as a career. My logic was, if I take up Sales as a career, I will have to attempt to transform myself as a person. I will have to develop some of the qualities required for a good Sales person. This was very important for me back then, and if a career could help me develop some skills and make me slightly more of an extrovert, it was only Sales.

Besides, I didn’t think it was a big risk, back then. I wanted to do an MBA in Sales/Marketing and I thought two years of experience in a related field would definitely be an advantage (I also wanted to earn some money to fund my higher education. But I never did that MBA because I never saved enough money to afford an MBA which was becoming costlier with every passing year. And I also had to take a break of two years and go back to studying which was quite unthinkable after two years). A strong second factor was recession. I would always be thankful for the recession that happened back then as it was not easy to get a Software Engineering job and campus placements were rare. (Actually the IT market started opening and recruited large numbers only after about nine months since I joined my first job). So, it was easier to convince my parents that I would not be able to join an IT company and hence they should allow me to take up Sales as a career (I think even the proposed MBA after two years helped here).

I was quite afraid when I joined my first job (They don’t expect much from a fresher in this career, but I didn’t know it back then). So, I was doing all that I was asked to do without complaining and to the best of my abilities. My salary was around 4000 Rupees back then but I never had a shortage of funds (In fact, I even managed to save around 1500 Rupees per month).

Companies seem to know when to keep and when to fire their employees. During my first job and for sometime in my second job my performance was not all that good. But the management never fired me for that. They were constantly monitoring what I was doing and observing if I was lying about my reports etc (Contrary to popular perceptions, lying doesn’t go well either with your customers or with your bosses in this career). In fact I was not even asked about the performance in my first job  as long as I was sincerely doing what was given to me. But during the initial course of my second job, I was asked to resign a couple of times. But when I went to the office the next day, my boss would totally forget having asked me to leave (In fact, I was later told that it was done to put some pressure on me).

Pressure, is an important driving factor in sales. And the pressure is not only from your bosses but it also comes from your customers, partners, vendors and almost everyone! In the beginning it was tough to handle that. But in the due course of the job, when I found that the pressure was helping me to do my job better, I developed a more tolerant attitude towards it.

Procrastination costs you dear in this career. If you don’t respond quickly to the client’s request for quotation, some one else would be walking with the purchase order! Coordination is a quality that is important and you tend to develop fast, in this career. You are expected to coordinate everything from the first quotation to the collection of payment (And it is quite a big cycle) and also need to coordinate within the company (Like installation team, finance department, logistics department etc) and with vendors and most importantly – Customers. Touring is an integral part of Sales – You need to travel far, often at short notices (And no, there will not be much time to go sight seeing). Presentation and communication skills are also important (This you tend to develop as you gain experience).  And contrary to popular expectation, you don’t necessarily need to drink a lot of alcohol to get the drive (Maybe it helps, but I never felt the need for it. Especially because it is not good for health. I do go to Pubs with my partners and colleagues but I don’t drink alcohol. In fact, I order for a sprite and give it a ‘Gin’ effect while drinking by drinking it in the style of drinking a Vodka 😉   )

So, to cut a long article short, I feel that sales as a career is like any other. It is highly rewarding and challenging. You need the right attitude and the right perspective. The right attitude will be developed as a part of the job but the right perspective needs to come from within you.


Destination Infinity

You could find similar articles in the Non Fiction section of this blog.



  1. Oh yeah, there are many plusses to sales. If you are successful, you can practically set your own hours, but my favorite part is never having to ask for a raise, because you can create one every day/week/month you choose through hard work!

  2. Please write your science,history etc ..LOL i have this subject called business studies..so 😛

    But yes,it must be a tough job 😛

  3. That was a long read with some confessions. Enjoyed it.

    ‘I feel that sales as a career is like any other. It is highly rewarding and challenging.’

    More rewarding if you really excel.

  4. I was never good at selling things 😦 But I’ve had to do some marketing as well (though I was never into marketing as such) and it wasn’t that bad! 🙂

  5. awesome dude ..
    this is just not a tag ..ITs a post from which everyone can learn dedication ,confidence and sincerity ..
    it also teaches no matter what u do if u love ur job u will succeed 🙂

  6. As Arvind said,this is more than a tag..Being a software engineer myself i can relate to all what you said in the intial para..To outsiders,being a sotware enggr is like being an Indian President who works less but is payed high.Stereotyping of coffee machine addicts and like are annoying to those who work hard for more than 15 hours a day..Yes,every job in this world is challenging.not to mention sales which is a highly comeptitive and pressirized one..Thanks for sharing your experience.

    p.s :Do try to do MBA one day.

  7. 🙂 This is a good One, I am in Marketing, never thought I could make a jump to sales, it seems really hard. Though if you ask, I always and still would love to be a Dev.

  8. Thanks for a little insight into who you have been (and are 🙂

  9. Thanks, DI!! I am glad you did the tag and – honestly – your personal development from an introvert ot a salesman is awesome!!!

    Me, being an extravert and pathologically communicative – I gave up a sales carriere because it was tooooo tough for me. I blieve it is not a good occupation for a lady, as it requires a portion of agression and good testosteron level 🙂

    A great post indeed!

  10. this is an eye opener post for me DI. You have took a brave decision by joining sales department. I am also thinking of changing my career for sometime as my work not much interesting. great post man

  11. I hate a job in sales. For one, it seems that I cannot succeed on it. I can’t just wallow with sales. I guess, you should be proud because after all, sales is not for everyone, after all.

  12. Sales and marketing people sit just in front of me. sometimes they come to my desk asking things that have nothing to do with the product itself, like they dont know what they are selling at all. Having only deadlines and fast selling thoughts in their mind! i think this field needs not Superficiality and aggression, but new strategies well drenched in diplomacy and dynamism. it is a fascinating area where one can show fantastic qualities and understanding not only for his own country but for the whole world. i like your field and also buying, but i am more on the maha shopping side.

  13. Radha: That is an excellent observation! The true artistry of sales is skillful persuasion through diplomacy and dynamism. Pushing product is for amateurs. Well said!

  14. @Michael: Yeah, incentives are directly related to perfomance, so you know that your work will be rewarded.

    @Vishesh: Ill tell you a secret: Initially it was.

    @Solilo: Even a seasoned sales person can make some basic mistakes. One season is good and the next one is bad. In this career, you’ll realize how much of things are not under your control – both good and bad!

    @Scietech: No one is good at selling things. There is no one style (like aggression) that works with everyone. It is just the learning that you get as you go on….

    @Arvind: I never mentioned anywhere whether I am successful or not 🙂 It is good if this post gives that impression!

  15. @Nimmy: The problem is one has to decide on careers when they are still studiying – At a time when they have no clue about the world and work. This article never mentioned anywhere that software engineering is not a good career. But the objective was to encourage youngsters to explore careers other than the usual software job, which are challenging.

    @Chirag: One suggestion from me: Take up a job which you don’t like – You end up learning much more than by doing something that you like.

    @Molly: The insight was never there. It is only the tip of the iceberg which is visible in this article 🙂 !!

    @Axinia: Not many ladies explore this career. It is not about the career not being suitable to them. But it is about the world still being dominated by men!

    Destination Infinity

  16. @Kanagu: There was nothing brave about the decision. I was open to joining software in the first couple of years if this didn’t work out. But fortunately, that never happened. The exposure that you get (both good and bad) in this job is pretty high and hence the learning is also huge.

    @Den Relojo: Sales is like any other career. It has the plus as well as the minus points. And with a good amount of time into this profession, people will automatically learn and get used to it. Like any other career.

    @Radha: Important point you made. Even though I am selling technical products, most of the time, it is better not to know much technically about the product(for a salesman)! But you need to know to the level of managing a customer or a presentation where a lot of questions will be asked.

    Destination Infinity

  17. Thanks DI, I want to, may be in a year or two. But more importantly now I know whom ask help from.

  18. I must admit for an engineer you made a bold decision, I can totally imagine how hard it is for a technical person to try to move away from the field, because I assume its not by chance but choice we would have chosen our subjects, and interests are difficult to change. However in retrospect, having spent more than 5 years in the software industry I would love to disillusionize students who dream that software engineering is a fulfilling career.

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