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10 Common Misconceptions About Sales (And Why New Grads Should Ignore Them)

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When people hear the word “sales,” they may think of demanding revenue targets, nonstop calls and long hours. While some sales roles can be challenging, this one-sided perception takes away from the fact that the field of sales is often a rewarding career choice. 

Depending on where you work, your sales role will likely afford you a flexible work schedule, a chance to diversify your skills and high compensation potential. Below, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council detailed some common misconceptions about sales they don’t want industry newcomers to believe. Here’s why these leaders say sales is a great field to get into, especially as a recent graduate.

1. Sales Is ‘Just A Job’

I think the simplest misconception about sales is that it’s “a job.” Of course, it is a job, but sales is also a mindset, a way of thinking about and doing things. Especially as a recent grad, it’s important to understand the fundamental importance of sales skills, the power of influence, how habits impact our behaviors and what it takes to create a strong rapport with the people you work with. By knowing and pulling these levers, professionals can really open doors and create a strong impact—no sales degree or specific job title required! – Christopher Tarantino, Epicenter Innovation

2. Sales Is An Unstable Career Path

Sales careers are often associated with long hours, nonstop traveling and fluctuating incomes, but that’s not really the case today. With proper training and the right company culture, salespeople can work fairly regular schedules and earn consistent incomes. And in a post-Covid-19 world, many of the things salespeople used to travel to do in person are now done online. Sales is a more stable career than new graduates might think, and it offers a great business foundation that they can take to other companies or roles in the future. – Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider.com

3. Sales Experience Can Only Help With Sales

A common misconception is that a job in sales can help you with just one career—sales. On the contrary, everything in the current business environment is sales. Starting with a sales job is like having a crash course in soft skills, which will give you a head start in any business career and pretty much every flexible position within the gig economy—whether you want to try yourself as a creator, solo consultant, entrepreneur or more. It’s truly liberating. Sales is at the very center of my job as a multi-business founder and CEO and I love it. Being good at it feels like a special power. As a founder, you have to sell so many people on your idea, from your investors to first customers to new employees. – Daria Gonzalez, Wunderdogs

4. Selling Is Negative

Selling something is not a bad thing. Selling something the right way allows the salesperson to be “of service” to the potential buyer. Many people perceive sales as a negative, but when you actually work to identify a need that the potential buyer has, I would advocate that it’s your duty to tell the person about your solution. In this way, you can be “of service” by helping the person solve a problem. If they don’t have a problem or a need for what you are selling, then move on. Sales is a great field and a great experience when you find a product or solution that truly meets a market need. Otherwise, the salesperson is trying to swim upstream in a very frustrating and unfulfilling way and probably inadvertently causing a lot of the negative perceptions attached to selling. – JT Allen, myFootpath LLC

5. Sales Isn’t A Legitimate Career Choice

With so many people trying to sell this and that and social media influencers around every corner, everyone is on information and content overload. It has fueled the myth that salespeople don’t have a “real job” and they don’t really want to help you. Sales is a very legitimate career choice that is incredibly challenging. It requires an individual who is authentic, focused on creating value and genuinely interested in helping people. It’s one thing to just close a deal, but it’s another to be able to care about the empowerment of the consumer. The most successful salespeople understand that helping people is the most important job of all. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

6. The Internet Has Rendered Sales Obsolete

I’ve heard from college students and recent college grads that sales careers are dead now with the emergence of the internet and social media. But that’s so far from the truth. Law firms, professional service organizations, medical centers, PR and marketing agencies, etc., all require business development professionals in order to grow and thrive. Cold calling, cold emailing and building relationships are critical to the success of any organization. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

7. Salespeople Aren’t Interested In Helping Others

Contrary to the popular misconception, sales doesn’t have to be “salesy.” Moreover, you can’t be like that if you ever want to close a deal. We’re no longer in the ’90s when intrusive telemarketing gave this field a bad reputation. Modern sales is about helping customers find solutions to their problems. It’s not about tricking anyone into buying something they don’t need. And sales doesn’t even have to be outbound, as today’s customers prefer to be looking for help on their own. Here’s a quick example to help you change your perspective on it: When you go to a job interview, what you are doing is trying to sell your skill to the employer who is looking for it. Both of you need it. So essentially, it’s about demonstrating value. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

8. Sales Makes People Uncomfortable

Hopeful grads who are thinking about their future careers may think sales is bad and that those in sales are not being respected because they are too pushy. They may think they have to sell to their family and friends, and that can feel strange. As someone who came from a clinical background and got into sales, I will tell you that you are wrong. We are selling and being sold to every single day, several times a day. You don’t have to think of sales as being an “uncomfortable” career path for you if you are not aligned with the product and/or service you are providing. – Dr. Christine Manukyan, Functional Medicine Business Academy

9. It Doesn’t Matter What You Sell

Sales is always a good field to get into because it is constant. Every product and service needs someone to sell it. Those who are great at it can make a lot of money. The misconception is that it doesn’t matter what you sell. It is the only thing that does matter. Every salesperson must believe in their product. They know their product or service will make someone else’s life easier. This is the sign of a truly good salesperson. The other common issue is many, particularly young people, think they don’t need to prepare to sell. They think they can just go over the details and the sale happens. A great salesperson knows all about their product or service and can explain how their product or service can benefit the other person. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

10. Sales Is Sleazy

I think most people view sales as a variation of the used car salesman, trying to pawn something off on an unwitting recipient. The truth is, sales is simply the medium with which our modern civilization was built, and those who are able to master the art can find a home in almost any industry. Sales transcends any specific niche or market, and when you are a master of the craft, you can begin to pick and choose where and for whom you work. Very few skill sets give you that level of freedom or choice. There is a reason the best salespeople work off commission rather than salary and are rarely there for the local meetings. – Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC