If you can sell, you have a job

In Summary

• The number of sellers is much greater than the number of buyers

Door-to-door salesperson
Door-to-door salesperson

Sales jobs are easy to get, but not everyone has the skill and aptitude for those jobs. Most jobseekers avoid sales jobs but there are those who have mastered the art of persuading potential customers to buy various products.

John Maza, proprietor of a used car business, has noticed the negative attitude towards sales jobs. "I'm in the business of selling cars. I don't need more secretaries and cleaners. I want people who can sell, and if you are willing to do the job, you have it," Maza usually tells jobseekers knocking on his office door each day.

There are generally two types of sales jobs in the market. Formal sales jobs are typically offered by large companies, which require a certain minimum academic qualification in sales and marketing. Formal sales jobs offer a basic monthly pay boosted by commissions. The more you sell, the more commissions you get.

The other type of sales jobs are in the informal sector by entrepreneurs such as Maza. Informal sales jobs have no basic salary; only commissions. If you don't sell, you don't get paid. There is usually no requirement for formal academic qualifications in informal sales jobs. As the employer will only pay them after a sale, jobholders have no workstation and can come and go as they wish.

Lots of jobseekers become salespersons in the informal sector because those jobs are easy to get. However, the excitement soon fades away when new employees realise surviving on commissions is not easy.

It's a buyer's market out there. The number of sellers is much greater than the number of buyers. While it's not hard selling low-value consumer products such as clothes and cosmetics, it is very difficult convincing strangers to buy a house, car or piece of land. The commission from high value properties is good, but how often does the average salesperson successfully seal such deals?

If you decide to join a sales team, what qualities should you have?

1. Persistence: You must be willing to go the extra mile to convince potential customers to do business with you. However, persistence should not get to a point of annoying customers. Persistence is about resisting the urge to give up.

2. Integrity: Avoid underhand deals. Do not short-change your employer or customer. Do your sales in accordance with the terms agreed with your employer. If the employer fails to live up to the terms of payment, use legal channels to deal with the dispute. Taking items from the employer to "pay oneself" is theft.

3. Truthfulness: Avoid the temptation of misrepresenting an item or service to close a sale. Sooner or later, the customer will discover the deception, cancel the sale or demand a refund.

4. Ego drive: Forbes magazine describes this quality as the "need to conquer". All salespersons fail to sell more often than they succeed. A failed attempt at selling should not crush one's self-confidence. Successful salespersons see failure as a motivation towards greater effort.

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