Getting a Top Job in Direct Sales - A Different Approach

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/14/2007 | Jobs and Careers

One of the interesting things about the majority of "Top Jobs" in direct sales is that many, if not most of them, are never advertised. In this article, a "Top Job" is defined as one in which the sales person can earn 100,000 or more, (depending on skill, ability, desire), within one or two years. The company providing such a job must have an honest product that fills a serious need, and depends heavily on direct sales.

If these companies don't advertise their sales positions, how is one supposed to ferret them out?

Takes a bit of research, but it's not hard. We'll get into that in a minute. Before you even think about interviewing for such a position you must be absolutely certain you know the skills and techniques of a professional sales person, and know how to sell. Do you know how to get an appointment on the phone? Do you know how to get past the person whose job it is to keep sales people out? Do you know how to construct a presentation - not of a specific product, but rather a presentation of any product? Do you know how to close a sale and how to handle stalls and objections? If not, don't apply and don't even look. You need to learn.

The only thing of major importance in a direct sales job is your ability to sell. A sales manager who has a position with an earnings potential of 100,000 plus a year can not afford the time to run around training people from the ground up. Such a sales manager wants to put people in the field who can hit the ground running. The manager will be happy to give you, the newcomer, all the product information available, plus review their standard presentation and close, but only if you have demonstrated a knowledge of direct sales skills and techniques.

The upside of all of this is that you don't have to have a resume' that shows you to be a Harvard MBA in the top 5 percent of your class. The MBA people are generally looking for jobs with companies that offer high salaries, company cars, and heavy expense accounts. These companies are looking for "institutional" sales people, and require a candidate who presents the image of their company.

All you have to be is clean, neat, enthusiastic, honest, and know the skills of a direct sales person - and how to use them. There are many books that cover these skills, and they aren't that difficult to learn. It is, however, much like learning to play tennis from a book. All your reading about the skills required to be a good tennis player won't do much for you as you watch the tennis ball coming toward you at 85 mph. It's learning how to apply a skill that makes the difference.

Where do I start?

The first place to start your search is with those people, usually professionals, who might use a big-ticket item. Business owners, doctors, attorneys, CPAs, accountants . . . in other words, people who deal with the general public, and need to have all the tools necessary to do so, professionally. The money for any big-ticket item will usually come out of their pocket, and they want to be involved in the purchase, rather than leave it up to a purchasing agent (if they have one). All you have to do is contact these people and indicate something to the effect that you are doing a survey and would appreciate a moment of their time.

Upon contact, let them know that you are doing a survey on direct sales. What you want to know is if he/she purchased a single item, other than a car or truck, within the past 12 months, costing between 5,000 and 15,000 dollars, to be used by the business. You don't need to know the name of the item or exact price. What you do need to know is the name of the company they purchased it from, approximately how many sales calls it took before the purchase was made, and their impression of the sales person responsible for the sale. Was the person you are talking to satisfied with the sales person, and has the sales person followed up since the original sale? Do they know the name of the sales person responsible for the sale; if not, do they know the name of the sales manager?

You should continue your survey calls until you have a list of fifteen to twenty companies whose SALES MANAGERS you can now contact. I've capitalized sales managers because you do NOT want to be shunted off to someone like the Director of Human Resources. Sales managers, whose earnings are dependent on sales, almost always have the final say about the sales people they hire.

When you contact the Sales Manager, (if you can't get by the switchboard operator or the sales manager's secretary, you need to work on your sales techniques), he/she will probably tell you they don't need any sales people right now. That's normal, and make sure you let him/her know that is exactly what you expected to hear. It's important that you get the message across that you just wanted to speak to him/her personally. Let him/her know that you've researched the field, and recently had contact with insert the name person you had spoken to, and the name of the company that gave you this company's name where you were impressed with their sales approach, product, and follow-up. Words such as: "I can sell, and wanted to contact you personally to let you know that I'm impressed with the way your sales people conduct business. You've got a team that I'd be proud to join," are music to any sales manager's ears. Your next comment is important. It should go something like this: "I'm sending some information about me directly to you. You may not have any use for it right now, but experience tells me that most sales organizations have at least one person, 'on the bubble.' If that situation should create an opening in your organization, I'd very much like an opportunity to meet with you and discuss possibilities." Your call should be followed up with a "Thank you" note plus a brief resume' of your experience and training.

What are my chances of getting an interview?

Since you are selling yourself, you will be faced with a sales, "presentation-to-close" ratio. Your selling skills and telephone approach are critical. While the skill you demonstrate on the phone is important, there are numerous other factors beyond your control that will affect the final outcome. A pure guess would indicate that you should get between three to five responses from twenty contacts. The quickest responses will usually be from those managers who are desperate for good sales help. These may be organizations you would least like to be associated with, however, never turn down an interview. This is your opportunity to present your best features and how they might benefit your prospective employer. In other words, you will have an opportunity to sharpen your presentation. Use it well, and learn from it.

Getting a top job in direct sales is a matter of selling a quality product - YOU! It requires prospecting, contact, presentation of benefits and closing. If you keep at it, you will succeed.

Good hunting.