Let’s face it – without sales, organisations wouldn’t exist. Being able to sell your product or service is crucial for almost all organisations.
A career in sales and customer service means being at the front line of an organisation, where you interact directly with potential customers. It’s the art of convincing people that they need whatever it is that you have to sell. This is by no means an easy feat.
Being in sales means being able to handle rejection and the word ‘no’ often. It means finding a hook or angle that will resonate with your customer. It means knowing your potential customer intimately – what they want, what they need and what they fear. It means knowing your product or service inside out so that you can confidently answer any questions.
Once a customer has bought a product, it’s the role of customer service to continue engaging with the customer. Indeed, we all have memories of excellent and terrible customer service. Being on the front-foot and training employees to manage customers – and keep them happy – is important for every organisation. Sales and customer service jobs are commonplace in Australia, with almost all organisations requiring staff with these skills.
Depending on where you work, you will often find that sales and marketing graduate programs are bundled together. This is particularly the case in larger corporations that have graduate rotations, such as the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, LendLease, Kimberly-Clark and CEB.
Outside of these larger organisations, your experience will depend on the organisation itself. While official graduate programs may not be available, you will find that most organisations are always on the lookout for sales and customer service talent.
Sales teams are driven by targets, which results in additional financial rewards, such as through commission or a percentage of sales. The pace for sales teams, therefore, can be demanding and intense. You might be regularly ‘on the road’ meeting with customers and giving them presentations.
Failing to regularly meet targets however may be harmful to your continued progression within an organisation. Having a thick skin and the tenacity to push forward, often seemingly against the odds, is important and immensely valuable for future career endeavours.
While the pace may not be as demanding in a customer service role, it is still an opportunity to develop your ‘grit’. These roles can help you to learn how to be more compassionate and understanding – skills that will help you build professional relationships in the future.
Customer service can be an exciting career as you never know what each day will bring or who you might meet. If you’re intent on helping people and love making connections, customer service can be very rewarding.
As you progress in sales, you may shift from being a front-line salesperson to managing a sales team. Being a natural people-person will help in this regard as you look to motivate and monitor performance. You may choose to enter into more formal business development roles that require more analytical thinking and perhaps even number crunching to find broader sales opportunities for an organisation.
Many customer service jobs are increasingly being outsourced either off-shore or through technology. We only have to look at our nearest supermarket to see the rise of the self check-out as an everyday example.
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