20 Qualities That Every Entry-Level Sales Employee Needs
20 Qualities That Every Entry-Level Sales Employee Needs

Starting your first entry-level sales job after college is exciting, but it can also be intimidating. That’s in part because, unless you worked your way through college, you probably learned a lot of facts in school but not very many of the so-called soft skills you’ll need in a competitive work environment. There’s an art to success out here in the real world, and some of it can’t be learned in books.

If you’re one of the many recent college grads trying to start a sales career, it’s important that you start mastering these 20 bedrock skills:

  1. Know how to be persuasive without being pushy. This is important. You don’t want to turn clients off by being too obnoxious.
  2. Be ambitious, but not aggressive. It’s acceptable, even encouraged, to want to advance your career, but not at the expense of your integrity. Don’t step on your co-workers toes, ever.
  3. Know what you’re selling. This might seem obvious, but you’ll need to know every product your company offers, inside and out. This is especially important as you strive to prove your credibility to your boss and your clients.
  4. Know what the competition is selling. Likewise, you need to know what your competitors are offering.
  5. Be self-motivated. You can’t wait on your boss to tell you what to do all the time. You’ve got to be able to take initiative.
  6. Active listening. The biggest component of a sales job is giving the client what they need. This means you must really listen to them and find solutions to their problems. (Bonus tip: Active listening is also something that comes in handy once you get married.)
  7. Be prepared to compromise. You’re not always going to get your way. Maybe your boss wants to implement a new policy that you think will impede your ability to do your job. Explain your concerns, but be prepared to compromise.
  8. Be able to think on your feet. Sometimes it’s necessary to come up with ideas at a moment’s notice. You’ve got to be able to think fast.
  9. Do your homework. Yes, you still have homework. Make a point to stay informed about what’s going on in your industry, at your company and with your clients.
  10. Be personable, but not fake. Seasoned sales employees and clients can detect fakeness in an instant. The best way to avoid this is to simply be a real person. Be yourself.
  11. Love what you do. If you go into a career for the money or because someone else wants you to, you’re not going to be happy. Make a list of what you love about your job and keep it in your desk drawer to look at when you’re feeling burned out.
  12. Be disciplined. You’re not going to have a professor reminding you about assignments, but you’re still going to have deadlines. Be vigilant about getting all of your work done on time.
  13. Be adaptive. Not everything happens according to plan. Learn to be flexible, whether it’s moving a meeting back or giving a presentation a day early.
  14. Be ethical. Again, this should be obvious. You might get ahead by taking a few shortcuts, but karma will catch up with you eventually.
  15. Network. Building your relationship in the sales industry is crucial. Take advantage of every networking event you can.
  16. Perfect time-management skills. One of the biggest changes from college to career is sticking to a schedule. The days of pulling an all-nighter and surviving on energy drinks are over. You’re going to clock at least 40 hours a week at work (usually more) and you still have to fit your personal life in.
  17. Don’t contact clients only when you have something new to sell. Keep in touch with your clients year-round, even if it’s just a friendly email. Reminding them that you don’t just see them as dollar signs is a great way to build your relationship.
  18. Be willing to go back to school. This might mean taking graduate-level classes or getting a special certification. There are many online classes, and some sales companies will reimburse education expenses. Don’t stop learning.
  19. Learn from your mistakes. You’re going to mess up. Even employees who have been in the sales industry for years make mistakes on occasion. What’s important is that you learn from them. That’s truly how you grow your career.
  20. Have confidence! You’re not going to know everything, but you’ve got to be confident in your ability to improve. Trust me, it will make a huge difference. 


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About the author
Stephanie Bauer
Stephanie Bauer works as marketing specialist, brand strategist, social media enthusiast and all-around whiz at Worldwide Express' corporate office in Dallas. Find me on Google+

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