A career in sales might not have been on your mind when you applied to Bowdoin College. Even if you don’t think you want to have a “career” in sales, gaining sales experience will help you develop skills that you will need to leverage in any career. Why? Sales is about people: listening, teaching, learning, problem solving, communicating, leading, persuading, relationship building etc. Chances are that as a Bowdoin grad you possess the ability to thrive in a sales capacity professionally. Your communication skills, critical thinking and problem solving skills, natural motivation, and ability to learn quickly and adapt will give you an edge.
In sales, you are trying to convince the customer that your product is the best way for them to meet their needs. Sales and marketing work closely together, and starting out in a business development or sales
position is often an excellent (and in some industries mandatory) first step to a career in marketing.
Sales jobs take on many forms. Fundraiser for a nonprofit, real estate agent, account executive for a software company, and inside sales representative for a solar energy parts company are all examples of sales positions.
Salary varies widely depending on role, education level, and location. Here is a sample of 2016 median salaries from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor:
- Real Estate Broker: $56,790
- Real Estate Agent: $44,090
- Advertising Sales Agent: $50,380
- Insurance Sales Agent: $49,990
- Financial Services Sales Agent: $67,310
- Travel Agent: $36,460
- Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representative: $60,530
- Sales Manager: $117,960
Do your research to get a better sense of what specific companies in particular cities are paying entry-level employees. Check out Glassdoor and Salary.com to get an idea. Also, a cost of living calculator can be very useful when trying to compare salaries in different parts of the country.
- Business Skills Programs
- Review the Vault guide on Sales to learn more about the industry and profession.
- A great place to start when you are beginning to explore a potential field is the websites serving individuals in the profession. If you’re planning or exploring a career in sales, it’s worthwhile to frequent these sites.
- Selling Power: Based on the magazine available at most book stores. The site offers a plethora of free online videos, audio downloads and articles about sales challenges facing sales professionals.