Sales and account management are critical functions for any organization. Sales professionals are responsible for identifying and pursuing new business opportunities, while account managers focus on nurturing existing customer relationships. Both roles require a unique set of skills and personality traits, and the decision to pursue either path can be challenging.
According to a survey by LinkedIn, sales is one of the top 10 most in-demand jobs globally, with companies across all industries actively seeking sales professionals. In this article, we discuss how to decide on a career path for sales and account management professionals and provide tips for success.
How do you identify if you’re qualified?
It helps to identify what your strengths and weaknesses are before choosing a career path in a sales organization. It will help you speak better while pitching yourself and your ideal budget during sales calls and even initial meetings.
Here are some tips to give you direction and propel you to get started:
- Identify your strengths and interests: The first step in deciding on a career path in sales or sales account planning is to identify your strengths and interests. Sales executives should possess excellent communication, negotiation, and persuasion skills.
They should be comfortable with taking risks, building relationships, and handling rejections. Account managers should ideally be excellent at customer service, relationship-building, and problem-solving. They should also possess strong ethics, as well as organizational and project management skills.
- Consider your personality: Sales and account management require a certain personality type. Sales account managers should ideally be outgoing, confident, and persistent. They should be comfortable with rejection and thrive in a high-pressure environment.
Account managers, on the other hand, should be patient, empathetic, and organized. They should be comfortable with managing multiple clients and projects simultaneously and have the ability to build strong, long-lasting relationships.
- Research the industry: Before deciding on a career path in sales or account management, it’s important to research the industry thoroughly. This can involve speaking with industry professionals, attending networking events, and researching job postings to gain an understanding of the different roles and responsibilities.
It is always good to get second, third, and even tenth opinions from relevant sources before diving deeper into an industry. It helps to find out the pros and cons associated with companies before choosing to work with them.
- Evaluate job opportunities: Once you have identified your strengths, interests, and personality type and researched the industry, the next step is to evaluate job opportunities. Consider the companies and industries that align with your interests and values, and research the job titles, responsibilities, and salary ranges to determine which role would be the best fit.
You needn’t be an extrovert or a good public speaker to succeed. Many people think only extroverts and outgoing people can act charismatic in front of a client during a sales meeting. The truth is maybe you are an introvert but when it comes to solving textual queries submitted by clients online, your command over their native language and extensive technical knowledge make you the best!
- Seek mentorship: Mentorship can be an invaluable resource for those considering a career in sales account planning. Seeking guidance from experienced professionals in the field can provide valuable insights into the industry, job opportunities, and the skills required for success.
Your mentor need not always be a certified coach or industry expert. It could even be your best friend from university who is now successful in the same niche as you. One new perspective would be to seek mentorship from books! Yes, if you are an avid reader, then pick up some good books by quality coaches and successful leaders. Reading the words written by them is almost close to having a conversation with them and learning their ideas!
- Build your skills: Whether pursuing a career in sales or account management, it’s important to continuously build and refine your skills. You don’t need to learn something completely new — just learn what you didn’t know existed about your niche before moving to other avenues.
This can involve taking courses, attending industry events, and seeking out professional development opportunities to enhance your knowledge and skills. For example, we met a sales executive who dedicated each month of the year during his initial stages to learning a new sales strategy every day. Today, he is well-versed in various strategies to tackle various situations that he has accumulated over several decades!
- Network: Networking is a critical component of building a successful career in sales or account management. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with industry professionals to build your network and gain insights into job opportunities.
Social media is booming and you can take advantage of it! Try finding people with similar interests or from the same industry as you on LinkedIn. Connect with them and start engaging in unique conversations for mutual growth. The biggest benefit of making connections is the ripple effect they have — you never know when one thing can lead to another and bring you surprising success!
- Consider company culture: When evaluating job opportunities, consider the company culture and whether it aligns with your values and career goals. It makes no sense to settle for a company that demands you to work on Saturdays when you want your weekends to yourself.
Consider factors such as work-life balance, employee benefits, annual increments, and opportunities for career growth and development. Perhaps you expect annual hikes from your organization to keep you incentivized to perform well. Or do you expect the team to sponsor any courses or training programs you attend to improve your skills?
- Stay up-to-date with industry trends: Sales and account management are dynamic fields that are constantly evolving. It’s important to stay up-to-date with industry trends and advancements to remain competitive and ensure your skills remain relevant.
For example, make it a point to browse the internet every day and identify ongoing trends and customer behaviors. Another strategy could be to dedicate an hour each day to studying your competitors, their success stories, and their failures. This is one of the best ways to plan and avoid making mistakes in your formative years.
- Seek feedback: Finally, seek feedback from colleagues, mentors, and supervisors to continuously improve your skills and performance. Constructive feedback can provide valuable insights into areas for improvement and help you refine your skills for long-term career success.
This surprisingly goes a long way and can eventually turn into a two-way road. You could become someone’s mentor or offer them career advice at a later stage in life. For example, you might ask for feedback on a recent sales pitch or project to identify areas for improvement. A few years down the line, you might end up holding a workshop or online seminar on how to draft quality sales pitches.
When considering a career path in sales or account management, it is important to assess your strengths and interests. Successful sales professionals and account managers typically possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills, are driven and persistent, and have a knack for building and maintaining relationships.
To prepare for a career in sales or account management, it is crucial to building your skills and knowledge. Seek mentorship from experienced professionals in the field, participate in training programs, and stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices. Networking is also key, as it can help you identify job opportunities and connect with potential clients or partners.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in sales and related occupations is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. This growth is due to the increasing demand for goods and services and the need for companies to maintain and expand their customer bases.
Pursuing a career in sales or account management can be a fulfilling and rewarding path for those who possess the necessary skills and interests. With careful consideration of all the aspects involved, individuals can position themselves for long-term success in these dynamic and growing fields. For better understanding of yourself and your qualities as a sales professional, talk to us.