Why the Brightest Students Need to Consider a Career in Sales

David Dvorkin is an Account Executive in the Marketing and Advertising industry. He is responsible for finding, keeping, and growing new advertisers for his company. He focuses on listening to clients and creating the right marketing campaigns that include radio, TV, online, or event sponsorships to grow his clients’ businesses. He addresses below why students need to consider a job in sales, even if they never thought about it before.

I never wanted to have a career in sales.  In college, I wanted to be an entrepreneur or a marketer, but after I worked at a start-up that ultimately floundered a year after I graduated, I was forced to look for work and eventually landed in advertising sales.  What I initially thought was a job that could pay the bills turned out to be a life-changing experience.  Needless to say, I’m happy that I took the job.  After a few years in ad sales, I realized that there are so many bright students who have the potential to have incredibly fun and rewarding careers in advertising sales, make six figures in only their second year and foster lasting relationships with C-Level Decision Makers  like CEO’s and Chief Marketing Officers.  However, most miss out on this opportunity because of three popular myths about the sales profession that exist.

Popular Myth #1: “Sales is for slick, fast-talking, pushy people.  It’s not for me.”

The only salespeople I was ever familiar with were used car salesmen, pushy retail clerks, and telemarketers who called at exactly the wrong time.  These types of sellers created a negative impression about ever pursuing a sales career.  As I started working in advertising sales, that impression changed. I realized salespeople can be empathetic, genuine, passionate, and trustworthy.  A co-worker of mine, for example, has clients that continued to buy from her for more than a decade because of how much they trusted her.  I was fortunate enough to have a great manager who taught me that, if I wanted to attain the success of my coworker, the first meeting with a client should never be about selling advertising.  It should be about listening.  He taught me to see myself as a “marketing “doctor.”  Just like a doctor listens to his patients’ symptoms before prescribing medication, I was responsible for listening to my clients’ marketing challenges and prescribing the right marketing ideas.

Popular Myth #2:  “Sales is not for people who attend good schools.  I will graduate from a great university, so I should pursue other professions like marketing or consulting to fully utilize my education.”

In sales, it helps to have a great education at a university like NYU.  If you are well versed in a broad range of subject matter, this can help you relate to many different types of people.  The brand name of NYU conveys that you are intelligent and competent, which helps you gain your clients’ trust more quickly.  However, the brand name of NYU and your academic intelligence are not enough.  Your drive, persistence, communication, and interpersonal skills have to be exceptional, and these are the most important traits for a successful sales career.  I have seen graduates from prestigious universities to obscure community colleges excel in sales because they posses these traits.  You have an advantage because your background at NYU will help you open doors, but it will ultimately be your personality that builds enduring and profitable relationships with clients.

Popular Myth #3: “Sales is risky.  I do not want to work on commission.”

Many sales jobs are commission based, which scares people.  You cannot just “show up” for a 9 to 5 and expect to get paid.  You don’t get paid based upon how many hours you work in sales.  You get paid based upon results.  Herein lies the great part about sales: you never need to ask for a raise.  If you want to earn more money, it’s up to you, not somebody else.

Sales is not for everyone.  However, if you possess the rare combination of drive, persistence, and extraordinary communication and interpersonal skills, you will ultimately succeed. You have an opportunity to make six figures in only your second year, without working crazy hours at nights and on weekends, and while having fun helping your clients.  This is a level of financial security that few other jobs can provide recent graduates.


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