a job for a salesman
October 16, 2012 2:08 PM   Subscribe

A young man I know has had some bad luck this year with medical issues. He's on the mend, but is out of a job. I need your best ever advice for how a personable 30-year-old who is bright but not an egghead, liberal without being extreme, a born salesman, and a masculine man can get a job with some sort of future to it.

He has a college degree and experience as a top telephone sales rep for a medical supplies company, selling to consumers. He hated this job but was very good at it. Any thoughts or advice? Any really great books on how to find a good job?
posted by Jenna Brown to Work & Money (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does he need to find A Job, or find a new career path that he would enjoy more than sales?

Because it sounds like if he needs the moneys, he should pursue work along the same lines as his previous work, ideally leveraging connections he already has in his field.

I'm around the same age, and thus likely in the same point in my career, and whether I like my job or not, I find it much easier to get work through previous work than I do to start from scratch. This can be frustrating if you dislike what you do and want to make a career change, but hey, at least it's a living.

What didn't he like about the medical sales job? The telephone aspect? The medical aspect? The customer facing aspect? Sales in general?
posted by Sara C. at 2:12 PM on October 16, 2012

He likes sales and is good at it. He hated selling medical supplies to people by cold calling them, especially because he didn't always feel that the product was necessary for the person. That job is over. He would be very good at any sort of sales, especially if it involved establishing and maintaining a relationship, which he is good at.
posted by Jenna Brown at 2:15 PM on October 16, 2012

Introduce him/send his resume to anyone who might conceivably be in a position to offer/know about a job. Personal connections are pretty much the only way anyone gets anything quickly these days.

If sales is really what he's good at, I wonder whether he might be able to get a foot in the door through temping? Sometimes employment agencies need to fill sales or account executive type positions, and when a full time position opens up, the company will almost always prefer a known quantity (that hotshot temp!) to the unknowns in the massive stack of resumes.
posted by like_a_friend at 2:24 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are lots of sales jobs that are not as cold-cally as medical supplies. I know it's got a bad rep, but car sales comes to mind. Contrary to popular notions, the used car side is probably more ethical and easier to do in general than new.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:35 PM on October 16, 2012

A good salesperson can make tons of money and write their own ticket. If he's good at sales I would suggest that he select an industry with high profit margins, examine the various types of sales work available in it, pick out the most appealing types of jobs, and plan out how to get there. At one of the enterprise software vendors I'm familiar with, rumor has it that during the 90s tech boom many of the top sales guys were making more than a million dollars a year in commission.

At software companies I've worked at there were also "Sales Engineers", technical people who would work with the sales team to make sure the customers had all the details and advice they needed on the tech side of things and that trial runs on the customers' part and experimenting with the products went smoothly. There's often a bunch of support staff like that in a sales organization, positions that don't make as much money as the actual salespeople but can be stepping stones to a commission-making position or a career in and of themselves.

But yeah, every industry and field needs sales people, even down to their equivalents in less commercial areas like professional grant writing in academia for example. If he can consistently close deals, the world's his oyster.

Of course, because sales is the lifeblood of any system—the fiscal leading edge—there's usually lots of pressure and turnover and it can get pretty cutthroat. Make sure he sees Glengarry Glen Ross if he hasn't yet.
posted by XMLicious at 2:37 PM on October 16, 2012

Car sales at an established dealership with training?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:47 PM on October 16, 2012

Car sales would be horrible, because once again it is selling things people don't always want.

Your friend has a good starting point with "inside sales", and the next step up the ladder is business development, or closing leads developed by someone on the inside sales team.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:04 PM on October 16, 2012

If somebody walks into a dealership there is a fairly good chance they do in fact want a car. Also, business development is sales. They are not particularly different jobs. In the tech world business development folks typically focus more on creating partnerships that directly selling widgets, but it is still sales. Some people that don't like the fact that they are in sales will use the term business development because they think it sounds classier or more important, but it isn't. It is sales.

Car sales have cleaned up its image quite a bit in recent years, particularly at dealerships. I've known Honda sales people pulling down close to six figures. If he is really that great at sales finding a job should be easy. Job hunting is just selling yourself. He might also look into banking, as banks have turned just about every job into a sales job. Teleco (AT&T, Verizon, etc) is pretty much always hiring in sales. Business services (temp services, office outsourcing, printing, copies, etc) also have a lot of feet on the street and are always hiring in sales.
posted by COD at 5:01 PM on October 16, 2012

Friend of a friend made mid-five-figures as a mobile phone sales guy at a major wireless carrier. He didn't have a college degree, just a good personality for it, I think. Nobody actually needs a fancy cell phone, but plenty of people seem to want them.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:05 PM on October 16, 2012

Insurance. Get in at one of the big companies; learn the business, learn what product lines you like to sell.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:05 PM on October 16, 2012

business to business sales. If I were him id look into Pharmaceutical Sales.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:26 AM on October 17, 2012

The person you've described...won't have any difficulty walking into his next job, and will be well able to check out the local job market.

Are you maybe asking strategies for researching a career change, because that is a different question? Where I am it would include looking for things like training opportunities at the local jobcentre, checking libraries and Further Education Colleges for courses (ie plumbing or electrician courses), but I don't suppose that's relevant to the USA.
posted by glasseyes at 10:41 AM on October 17, 2012

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