• Spotlight on success: How to succeed in a commission-based sales role

    April 06, 2017 by

     

    Name: Eric Leger
    City/state: Austin, Texas
    Current profession: Vice President – National Sales Training and Recruiting, Aflac
    Years with current company: 15
    College/University attended: Lubbock Christian University

    Recent college grads seeking opportunities to set their own schedule, earn unlimited income, and develop professional skills that last a lifetime, can do so by pursuing commission-based sales jobs.

    But it’s not easy for recent college grads to see the potential of a commission-based sales opportunity, especially when there are bills to pay, they have limited sales experience, and are afraid to take risks. Because in effect, a commission-based sales career is a risk. However, it’s a risk that comes with rewards that are not potentially offered through a traditional salaried, full-time job.

    “Commission-based sales opportunities are attractive for outgoing, motivated, competitive people who want a high degree of autonomy,” said Steven Rothberg, Founder of College Recruiter. “With risk comes greater reward, so if you perform well then you should make more money than a salaried employee doing similar work.”

    That’s what Eric Leger of Austin, Texas learned. Leger, like many new to sales, was once apprehensive about giving up the security of a bi-weekly paycheck provided through his career as a teacher and a coach. But he was also frustrated by the limited ability to earn more money to help support a family of five, as well as a lack of work-life balance, and reward for success.

    But that was 15 years ago, and now, Leger knows that his decision to switch to a commission-based sales opportunity was the best career move he ever made. Leger, who started out in field sales, moved up the company ladder and is now the Vice President of National Sales Training and Recruiting for Aflac, an insurance company that provides supplemental insurance for individuals and groups to help pay benefits that major medical insurance doesn’t cover.

    “First of all, I quickly learned that working in sales is an honorable profession,” said Leger. “I admit, going to work in a 100 percent commission role was a little bit intimidating, and as someone who was the breadwinner for a family of five, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into.”

    But Leger, like all Aflac field sales reps do when they start out, went through a dedicated 13-week training session, and through support and mentorship from local and regional sales directors, continuing education and training, found success as an independent contractor working in a 100-percent commission-based sales position.

    “For the first time in my life, I truly felt I was getting paid what I was worth,” said Leger. “I also enjoyed the opportunity to get out in the field, meet other business owners, and present our product to them, because I truly believed it added value to the businesses and clients we serve.”

    Finding the right product can make or break a commission-based sales career.

    “If you’re good at sales and selling a product that is desired by the marketplace, you can make really good money,” said Rothberg.

    Leger agrees, noting that he was motivated by Aflac’s strong reputation, and for the opportunity to work with business owners to sell a product that provided security to the many diverse business owners and clients.

    “Recent college graduates need to know choosing what product or service one sells plays a major role in job satisfaction and success,” he says. “The bottom line is, you have to be passionate about the product, and aligned with the right brand, and a brand that is in-demand,” says Leger.

    Recent college grads don’t need a previous sales background to succeed in commission sales jobs. So that means someone with a liberal arts degree, communications degree, business degree, marketing degree, or even a degree in education like Leger, can succeed with the right training and soft skills.

    These are the key soft skills sales professionals need to have or develop for success, says Leger:

    • Grit and resiliency
    • Goal-oriented
    • Strong work ethic
    • Persistence
    • Entrepreneurial spirit
    • Drive to work for themselves

    A typical day in a commission-based sales job involves prospecting, presenting and following up with clients through email, phone and face-to-face meetings. Depending on the company or role, there could be face-to-face team or individual sales meetings, or weekly sales conference calls. A good commission-based sales opportunity will provide support, coaching, ongoing training, and teach the art of selling. And handling rejection.

    “You have to realize that rejection or saying no is not personal, it’s just part of business,” says Leger.

    Many entry-level sales jobs require employees to work on-site. Other commission-based sales job, like Aflac, hire independent contractors who can work from wherever they want, including their own home, or through a local or regional office if it fits. The flexibility, upward mobility, income potential, and ability to operate like a small business owner through a career in sales can be an attractive career opportunity for the right person.

    “A career in sales is extremely exciting,” says Leger. “It’s one of the only true opportunities to truly earn what one is worth, and many recent college grads are attracted to the opportunities because of the mobility and flexibility. Learning the art of selling teaches skills that transfer to any industry, so it’s a great way to launch a career.”

    Want more information on how to succeed in a career in sales? Stay connected to College Recruiter for more advice and tips like this. Start by registering with College Recruiter to have job alerts emailed to you. Then visit our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

     

    Eric Leger, Vice President - National Sales Training and Recruiting, Aflac

    Eric Leger, Vice President – National Sales Training and Recruiting, Aflac

    Eric Leger is Vice President, National Sales Training and Recruiting for Aflac, an insurance company that provides supplemental insurance for individuals and groups to help pay benefits that major medical insurance doesn’t cover. Leger was a former teacher and coach who, 15 years ago, switched careers and started in a commission-based field sales rep role for Aflac. Leger is currently responsible for recruiting, training and leadership development of Aflac’s U.S. sales force.

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