May 20th 2021

Shattering stereotypes: Spotlight on Chris and his experience working in sales

Working in sales comes with a bunch of preconceptions and wrongly assumed stereotypes.

  • Greedy George. Motivated purely by money and commission.
  • Liam the Liar. Makes unrealistic promises to close a deal, covering up any flaws in the product.  
  • In-your-face Ian. Bolshy and almost borderline aggressive, talking at you instead of listening to what the customer wants.
  • Invisible Isobel. She’s not there because, with sales stereotypes, this is a man’s job.

These sales stereotypes come straight out of the 1980s, with some people still stuck in the mindset that these cliches are what working in sales is like. But they’re unfair and unrepresentative of the true nature of the role. They prevent people from seeing the value a role in sales can have on your career. That’s why we sat down with Chris Burns, who recently got a sales role through Tempo, to get some first-hand insight into the world of sales.

Meet Chris 

Hi, to kick things off, please tell us a bit about yourself?

I graduated from university after doing Sports Management but I had no idea what job I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted a role that was people-centric as that has always been a strength of mine. I interviewed for both recruitment and sales jobs as I knew both would involve dealing a lot with people. I ended up falling into recruitment over a career in sales as that was the role I was offered. But once I started I knew it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing. 

What was it that made you want to move from recruitment into a sales role? 

After I had been in recruitment for a couple of years and I realised I wanted to work in sales, I decided to start job hunting. That’s when Tempo helped me land a role in tech sales. I love adding value to people, and I found in recruitment it was more about getting people to move jobs. I wanted to add value to people’s lives by selling a product that they wanted and believed in. The culture of the sales industry really drew me in and I love that it internally inspires you to be competitive. It’s a fun environment to be in and it’s fast-paced which constantly keeps you on your toes. This role in particular really influenced my move as it combines the hospitality industry, which I find really interesting, with the world of tech. 

What’s been the biggest learning curve so far since working in sales?

To be honest, the biggest learning point was realising you can’t chat nonsense and make things up. You have to know the product inside and out to be able to sell it successfully. It’s this that will make you a great salesperson, not someone that adheres to the typical sales stereotypes. I have learnt this especially at my company where we are trying to move away from those old-school salespeople that everyone pictures when they think about working in sales. It’s not just about facts, figures, and stats. It’s about asking questions and knowing everything about the industry so that you can add value to people by giving them what they want. At my company, we want to adopt a more consultative approach, rather than just focused on selling the tech. We have even changed our titles on Linkedin to be “Specialists” rather than “Sales Representatives.” 

Now you’ve been working in the role, has anything surprised you?

The market can really affect your sales, but working in sales is not as cutthroat as I thought it would be. It’s way more team-centric. You will be more successful if you learn to work together as a team, helping each other to develop along the way. It’s about finding ways to do things together and therefore has a very collaborative atmosphere. This is something which I never thought would be a big part of a sales role. I always expected it to be a dog-eat-dog world. But I’ve been made to feel very welcome with a lot more support than people would think. 

Do you recommend sales to others as a good place to start your career?

Yes, I definitely do. Whether you decide to stick with it as a career, or transition into other business areas it teaches you a whole host of skills. I personally have found that once you get into it, you want to stay in it. But that’s just because I love it so much. If you do wish to have a change of career or move into different areas of the business then a career in sales will have given you the soft skills to do so. Whether it’s communication, negotiation, or even problem-solving, the experience and skillset under your belt gained from your time in a sales role will be invaluable. Plus, let’s be honest, every business revolves around sales in some way. 

What advice would you give to people looking to go into a sales role?

Be all in. You’ve got to commit to it. In sales roles, there will obviously be good days and bad days, but if you stick with it and have a passion for it then you will undoubtedly see the reward. Also, don’t get too fixated on the industry, look at the company and the bigger picture, making sure you believe in their mission and the service or product you have to sell. 

When it comes to the interview, be sure to be yourself and to be very personable as this is what you need to do to be good at the job. So try to let your personality shine through. They aren’t looking to hire a team made up of the same people. They want you to be yourself within the sales team, helping to diversify the team as a whole. In the role they need you to be authentic and to approach things in your own way, so be sure to show you can bring your own flair to the table. A good tactic is to do as many interviews as possible to get into the swing of it and cast your net wide, speaking to as many people as you can to build your network. 

That’s great! What’s been the highlight of your experience working in sales so far?

The small wins. I get very excited when you just have a great day because people want to speak to you and that you are able to help them with your product. I love knowing I have been able to add value to their lives. 

This first-hand look into what it’s actually like working in sales shows us it’s time to put an end to the influence of sales stereotypes. Don’t let these past cliches affect your decision to dive into a world of opportunity that a job in sales provides. A world where you will learn invaluable soft skills and experiences, and be able to add value to people’s lives in your own unique way. Even if it doesn’t end up being your career forever, it is clear that time spent in a sales role will set you up for whatever you decide to do down the line. 

Want to know more about working in sales? Check out the qualities every successful salesperson needs and hit the button below for all the exciting sales roles we have on the Tempo platform.