There are few professions that match the high risk, high reward stakes of sales. For some, this is the best way to earning true financial freedom. But for others, it’s never going to be that perfect fit.
Today we’re talking about the real pros and cons of working in sales. The euphoric ups, the devastating downs, and everything in between. So if you’re thinking about joining the sales industry or just wondering if this is your right profession, this is the guide for you.
Now, let’s face it—not everyone’s cut out for sales.
Ambition, confidence, self-discipline, and not to mention plenty of grit—they’re all required if you want to make it in this industry. And even if you do have all the right qualities, long hours, difficult quotas, and a high-stress environment are typically a given.
But few other professions carry the enormous benefits of killing it in sales. And if you’re the right type of person, no other career will give you the same fulfillment and control over your on-the-job success.
The trick is knowing what to expect in this job beforehand. That way, you can make an informed decision about if this is the right job for you.
And that’s what I’m here for. Today we’re looking at the true upsides and downsides of being a sales pro. No lies and half-truths. No BS. And no holds barred.
So first off, let’s start with the pros of working in sales.
By far one of the biggest benefits is…
Pro: It’s the Quickest Way to Become a Millionaire
The money. Yep, sales can be lucrative. Incredibly lucrative if you’ve got the talent.
And when you do have that talent and, of course, a proven sales system, hitting your quotas and raking in massive commissions isn’t all that difficult.
As author and business founder Kent Billingsley told me in our interview:
“Sales is one of the professions where you can make an embarrassing amount of money and have so little responsibility.”
See, with traditional professions, your salary is capped. Sure, you may get bonuses and raises every few years. But no matter how hard you work, your end-of-year pay doesn’t change much.
But with the commissions in sales, your earning potential is unlimited. And best of all, your pay is based on your own abilities. So you are in control here, not your employer.
And that’s incredibly empowering.
Pro: Much Less Risk Than Starting a Business
It’s much less risky than starting a business yourself.
Entrepreneurship can be exciting. But it’s also risky.
About 20% of new businesses fail during their first two years. 45% go under in less than five years. And just 35% of all businesses survive past ten years.
You may make it past that point. But realistically speaking, the odds are against you.
When you work in sales, however, there are two threats to your livelihood—getting fired or your employer going under. And both are far less likely to occur than a startup failing.
Pro: Easier to Land Clients Than Going Solo
It’s easier to bring on new clients compared to if you were running your own business.
When you start your own business, you’re starting from ground zero. You’ve got to prove to potential clients that you’re worth trusting. And only then will they entertain the idea of buying from you. That can end up taking years or even decades to do.
But if you’re in a sales position at another company, you can “borrow trust” from your organization. You are a representative of a business with a proven track record, a history of clients served, and a reputation of its own.
Your own trustworthiness will impact your performance, of course. But it’s ten times easier to close if you’re working for an established brand than if you tried going it alone.
Now, the final benefit we’re talking about today is…
Pro: Job Security (If You’re Good)
Job security… if you know what you’re doing.
If you’ve got the skills, you can rest easy knowing you’ll always be employable.
Businesses are in dire need of capable sales reps these days. And while new technologies are threatening other professions, buyers will always want to speak with a real person before spending tens of thousands of dollars.
Even if you do lose your position, you’ll always be able to quickly find a new one.
You just need to make sure you’ve developed the skills necessary to make yourself marketable. Skills like those taught in the Selling Made Simple Academy.
Alright, so now that we’ve tackled the perks, let’s look at the difficulties. Now quick heads up, we’re only going to look at a few downsides here. But these negatives can be absolute dealbreakers for certain types of people.
So with that, downside number one is…
Con: You Have to Learn to Live With Rejection
You have to learn to live with rejection.
Rejection, sadly, is a given in sales. It just is.
So if you’re someone who can’t handle rejection or lets it get under your skin, sales might not be the job for you.
But you also have to be able to learn from that rejection.
Speaker, author, mentor, and sales legend Harvey J Eisenstadt put it best when he told me:
“First, nobody, and I’ve met thousands of wonderful salespeople in my career, nobody has a hundred percent closing ratio. The second is, rejection is part of the learning process. If you fail to make a sale, what you’ve got to do is go back to your office, sit down by your desk, analyze the sales call, and don’t say, “Why didn’t the prospect buy from me?” What you’ve got to say is, “How could I have gotten the prospect to say yes?” Too many salespeople put the blame on the prospect and not on themselves. And they fail to learn from their rejection.”
In this career, you’ve got to be constantly looking for ways to grow, ways to improve, and ways to get better.
And if you can’t look at a failure and learn from it, you’ll never make it in this business.
Con: Things Get Competitive at the Middle/Bottom of the Hierarchy
Things get very competitive at the middle and bottom of the sales job hierarchy.
If you’re just starting out or can’t seem to land a position with the right company, you’ll be stuck working your butt off.
At the bottom of the hierarchy, you’ll be selling commodities. If you move up to the middle, you’ll be working with better products that you actually find useful. But there’s a tradeoff here—those useful products typically come with lots of competition. And it’s going to be tough to close when buyers can find a similar product for less of an investment.
But when you get to the top of that hierarchy—I’m talking medical devices, $100k+ software, etc.—that’s when you’ve reached the sweet spot. These are the products that change the lives of the people that buy. They’re the ones that revolutionize businesses. And they’re the ones that are more interesting, lucrative, and fulfilling to sell.
So the point here is this—you may have to spend some time working your way up in the industry. Or at least finding ways to make yourself marketable so that these higher-tier organizations want to work with you.
And you can do that by developing your skills, expanding your social network, and earning credentials that show you’ve got the right stuff.