Sales is fundamentally important to any business, regardless of whether you’re selling physical goods like food or cars, services such as musical performance or financial planning, or digital products like apps or websites. And, while every product or service is unique, many aspects of the art of sales remain the same across all industries: know your customer, present them with solutions that meet their needs, handle any objections, and then close the deal.
While these essential aspects of sales remain unchanged, the digital era has created new ways to get to know your customer as well as new models for reaching them. Digital marketers can use services like Google, Facebook, and Twitter to identify sales prospects according to specific demographic factors, interests, and buying habits, allowing them to make precisely targeted digital sales pitches. The digital era has also dramatically raised the profile of inbound marketing strategies, which seek to attract sales prospects by creating appealing content tailored to their interests.
At the end of the day, selling is about having great communications and negotiation skills, but it also requires a systematic sales strategy that leverages the latest tools to helps you use these skills effectively. Thus, today’s most successful sales professionals often seek to combine traditional sales techniques with digital marketing savvy.
A background in sales is applicable in virtually every industry, but specific positions often depend on your educational background and expertise. If you’ve got a talent for selling but a limited formal education in this area, you can still find work in retail sales, advertising sales, real estate sales, or other sectors that offer industry-specific training. If you have a bachelor’s degree in more specialized areas such as science and technology, you can make a higher salary as a wholesale or manufacturing sales representative that sells directly to businesses and other organizations instead of consumers.
Experienced sales representatives in any industry can work their way up to the position of sales manager, responsible for directing organizations’ sales teams, including creating sales strategies, developing training programs for representatives, and setting and tracking sales performance goals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales managers make a median annual salary of $126,640 per year, and often have an education in management, marketing, or other related areas in addition to sales experience.
Yes, regardless of whether you want to learn traditional sales techniques, pick up the latest digital marketing methodologies, or get the management skills you need for a promotion, Coursera has online courses and Specializations available to meet your needs.
And, because you can take sales courses from top-ranked schools like Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, you can learn online without sacrificing the quality of your education.You can also complete these courses on a flexible schedule, allowing you to pick up the skills you need while continuing to work at your current job.
The skills and experience that are helpful to have before starting to learn sales generally include solid confidence, ambition and drive, good communication skills, computer aptitude, good listening habits, empathy, and understanding. At the heart of good sales is one’s ability to show concern and care for a customer, while learning the needs of the customer’s business. If you also have experience in working in a service-related role, that too would be a suitable asset to bring to a sales job. Having a background in psychology or negotiating is also helpful in this focus. Learning about sales is almost similar to learning about being a considerate human being. You want to help others, and in return you will be rewarded.
The kind of people that are best suited for work in sales are those who show flexibility, have generally agreeable and optimistic personalities, and can command the attention of people in a meeting or online. Good salespeople are often those with confidence, ambition, and drive and the ability to express that in communications about products and services. A smiling, talkative person might work well in sales if they show knowledge and insight about the customer’s business. Having technical savvy and computer ability is also crucial in today’s sales roles, as many of today’s modern sales interactions with customers are managed via cloud platforms and customer relationship management (CRM) processes.
You might know if learning sales is right for you if you are passionate about the art and methods of psychology, negotiation, empathy, competitiveness, and business. Some of these facets of sales may take time to master. But even in early sales jobs, one can see how these aspects of sales come together to help win deals. Learning sales and the techniques for successful sales are crucial assets to have in any work role in business because at some point, you'll be called on to sell someone your experience, your idea, your proposal, or your vision.
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