Career Advice for Job Seekers

[Infographic] 10 reasons why college grads should consider entry-level sales jobs

Matt Krumrie AvatarMatt Krumrie
April 25, 2017


Entry-level sales jobs present a great opportunity for recent college grads to learn professional skills that last a lifetime. And below, a variety of entry-level sales professionals, as well as business owners and sales executives with experience at companies like Google, IBM, AOL, and Dell Computers, talk about the unique and life-long skills developed through an entry-level sales job. Here is what every recent college grad needs to know to succeed in a career in sales:

1. Sales jobs are not restricted based on one’s degree

Recent college grads and entry-level sales professionals who are able to participate in a company-sponsored sales training program will learn skills that last a lifetime, says Maddy Osman, an SEO content strategist and digital marketing professional. Before she started her own business, Osman worked as an account representative for Groupon, where she went through over two months of cold-calling sales training, graduating among the top 5 of 25 trainees in her class. Osman says she still refers to the sales materials she learned in that training and applies it to her digital marketing role.

“Even if you never work in sales again, you’ll learn about psychology, and negotiation, which will help you when getting a new position, negotiating for a higher salary, or creating strategic partnerships,” said Osman.

In her role at Groupon, Osman worked alongside employees who majored in liberal arts, theater, marketing, and history, to name a few. The common denominator among those who were successful was that they were outgoing, and/or held student leadership roles at their college or University.

“There wasn’t one area of study more represented than another,” said Osman. “So it’s not necessarily about the degree – as long as you have one.”

That being said, one doesn’t have to go through a dedicated sales training program to succeed in entry-level sales jobs. Learn why below.

2. Everyone can succeed in sales – even those who don’t think they can sell

Mac Anderson graduated from Miami of Oho in 2015 with a degree in marketing. Anderson achieved a lot while in college, working a part-time job at a bar/restaurant, volunteering for two non-profits, and maintaining a full course load and active social life.

Related: Why employers covet soft skills developed from working in restaurants and retail 

“I learned a lot about myself by trying new things and making a leap of faith,” said Anderson.

Sales jobs don't require specific experienceAnderson had a wide variety of other experiences too. He coached a traveling youth baseball team, and was a laborer on a construction crew. He also worked in sales, marketing, and logistics for a non-profit called Top Box Foods.

But it’s his current entry-level sales job at ParqEx that has Anderson buzzing about where his career is going. ParqEx is a marketplace (mobile app + website) that allows owners of underutilized parking spaces to rent out their parking, by the hour, day, week or month, to a driver in need of convenient, affordable parking. ParqEx specializes in hard-to-park neighborhood and has partnered with many local neighborhood organizations and chambers of commerce to solve the parking nightmare.

“I honestly never thought of myself as a salesman because I did not think I had the right characteristics,” said Anderson. Soon after Anderson started in his current role, he was presenting to a group of over 100 builders (and potential clients) – an experience that has played a key role in him developing a positive, can-do attitude, and desire to succeed in sales.

“I have learned that I can do literally anything I set my mind to,” said Anderson.

But many recent college grads are afraid to do what makes them uncomfortable, or not familiar to them in their job or career. Especially early in their career, and especially if it’s a 100 percent commission-based sales job. That’s why many recent college grads shy away from sales careers. But it’s been the exact opposite affect for Anderson, and has helped him thrive as a professional

“Getting out of your comfort zone is essential for personal and professional growth,” says Anderson.

Every sales person has a different style, says Anderson. That’s why he feels there’s no one-size-fits-all template to sales success. “Just try new tactics, do what feels right for you personally, and always be positive and confident,” says Anderson. “You will get comfortable and find your style.”

Kevin Cote, Director of Sales at Namely, a leading HR, Payroll, and Benefits platform for mid-sized companies, agrees.

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” says Cote. “The only way to grow in sales and win business is to be confident in asking difficult questions, navigating awkward or tricky objections, and mastering the science of being comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”

3. Sales is perfect training for future CEO or business owner

Cote started at Namely in 2013 as a Sales Development Representative, but quickly learned that successful sales professionals learn more than how to sell their product. They also gain training and exposure into learning various aspects of how businesses work and grow, says Cote, including:

  • Implementation and customer success: During the hand-off post-sale and ongoing after a client is live.
  • Accounting and billing: When discussing payments.
  • Legal: During contract negotiation.
  • Marketing: On the front-end of the funnel and for content support throughout the sale.
  • Product development and engineering: By passing along front-line feedback from potential customers.

Use that industry knowledge to your advantage.

“Hustle in everything you do,” says Cote. “Successful sales people thrive in situations where little direction or structure is provided by being a self-starter and diving head first into every opportunity.”

Those looking to start their own business should consider a career in sales, says Gene Caballero, Co-Founder of, which allows users to select lawn care companies who bid for work. Caballero worked for over eight years as a corporate account manager for Dell computers, a Fortune top 50 tech firm. Sales teaches organization, the ability to handle rejection, and how to close the sale, he says.

“You will need to be organized and know how to follow up, as it takes at least 7-8 customer touches to close a sale,” says Caballero. “Getting told no several time a day can deflate anyone, but individuals that have grit will never let no slow them down. Personality is essential because you will be the quarterback that will have to deal with other types of people and your personality needs to mimic the person and the situation.”

Those are areas business owners, entrepreneurs, and startup face, too.

4. Sales jobs teach the art of handling rejection

Working in sales is hard, Anderson says, especially when one is told no, time and time again. “If you persist through the challenges and mistakes of the job, good things will happen,” says Anderson. “You have to get knocked down a few times before you will be able to achieve your goals, but determination, practice, positivity, and confidence can guide you through any challenge.”

5. Sales jobs teach art of relationship building

SalesmanEvery sales professional has unique ways of growing leads and closing the sale. Anderson generates leads through cold calling, Craigslist, walking around and canvassing neighborhoods, setting and going on meetings, creating relationships with organizations, working with builders groups and developers, using LinkedIn to network, and strategically targeting areas with high demand and low supply, among others.

Being able to cold call and email prospects is still essential to success, says Anderson. Those methods also help recent college grads gain confidence and experience. In sales, it’s all about relationships.

“Relationships are probably the most important aspect of what I do – both maintaining and creating new ones,” said Anderson. “I work hard to make sure my clients are happy, no matter what it takes, because in sales, people are buying you, not just your product.”

6. Sales jobs forces one to learn how to use technology

Technology plays a huge role in the success of an entry-level sales professional, says Steven Benson, Founder and CEO of Badger Maps, a sales route planning app. Before starting Badger Maps in 2012, Benson worked in Sales at IBM, HP and Google, where he was Google Enterprise’s Top Sales Executive in 2009. Benson rattles off a wide variety of technologies top sales professionals can use, among them:

  • Email: Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Groove
  • Cold calling: and
  • Automating field sales activities: Badger Maps, MileIQ
  • Lead generation: InsideView,, ZoomInfo

“Leveraging technologies like these effectively can be the difference between success and failure for an entry-level sales professional,” says Benson. “Over my career, I was definitely able to get an edge by leveraging technologies before my competitors figured out how to use them.”

7. Sales jobs provide opportunity to learn from a mentor

“The best advice I can give a sales person just starting out in their career is to look at what the successful people on the team are doing, and get them to teach you how to do it,” says Benson. “Great mentors can really accelerate your career – if you don’t have them, you end up reinventing the wheel.”

8. Sales jobs forces one to learn from mistakes and how to be persistent

Training is essential, but “jumping into the water” on your own, messing up, and learning from those mistakes is also essential to growth, says Anderson. “I made mistakes, but the most important thing is getting over those mistakes, learning from them and moving on.”

Anderson has had at least five clients tell him his persistence is why they chose to meet with him, talk to him, or do business with him and his company. “My persistence meant that I would work hard on their behalf,” said Anderson. “Persistence, positivity, energy, and product knowledge are critical.”

9. Sales jobs provides the foundation for your future

Businesswoman looking to her futureMike Scher, Co-Founder of FRONTLINE Selling, a B2B sales software and methodology helping companies reach decision-makers faster, says entry-level sales careers provide great training for the next step in one’s career, whether one stays in sales or pursues a completely different career path.

“Learning how to sell early in your career provides you with an invaluable set of skills you’ll use the rest of your career,” says Scher. “You need to sell yourself on the job interview and later to get promoted. You sell your boss and colleagues on your ideas, and you sell your organization on your value every day. Sales is about the transference of belief. In every position you hold, you will need to convince others to your point of view and entry-level sales jobs will not only provide those skills, but also the confidence to use them.

10. Sales job requires ongoing training, learning

Sales teaches recent college grads humility, says Scher. Those who are open to new ideas, and can take constructive advice and use it to their benefit, will find most success. Those who also understand the importance of learning new skills, completing ongoing training, and adapting to change will also succeed.

“Even the most veteran sales professionals participate in continuous learning through training, webinars and seminars,” says Scher. “Learning is on-going and with the speed in which technology and methodologies evolve, grads must be willing and able to evolve, too.”

Are you ready to evolve into an entry-level sales professional? These tips and strategies can help recent college grads find success in an entry-level sales job.

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