Hey Introverts, A Career In Sales Is Surprisingly Perfect For You

Introverts, A Career In Sales Is Surprisingly Perfect For You

The most notoriously extroverted profession is a nerd's game now.

Caroline
Caroline
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Last February, when I accepted a Sales Summer Intern position with Reynolds & Reynolds for the summer, I was honestly not expecting much out of it. I started my college career majoring in General Engineering and then ended up in Industrial Distribution, of which 70% of graduates work in industrial sales and 30% in supply chain jobs. I'd always figured that I was going to be part of the 30% since I am an introvert and will never fit the "sales" profile.

All I've wanted since I was 14 is to live in the same town I grew up in and work in a cubicle. I only accepted this internship, which was across the country and in a field that terrified me, since I didn't think any other company would want me (I don't want to sound stuck up, but I no longer think that was the case) and I definitely did not want another summer like last summer when I was a nanny for 44 hours a week.

Guess what?

I had the actual best internship ever and now I want to do sales for a career. It's not because I've suddenly decided I want to be smooth-talking and sleazy. That's only in the movies; that's nothing like what modern sales actually is. Modern sales is ideally suited, perhaps exclusively suited, toward people with engineering, problem-solver mentalities.

Surprised? Let me share a bit of history. Selling has existed for as long as humans have been using currency, but the modern sales rep career started during the Industrial Revolution. From then, for the next 100 or so years, sales professionals developed and perfected the pushy, always-be-closing behavior that we still associate with the profession. Studies show that that behavior works for low-value sales when the product being sold is relatively cheap and nothing too serious will happen if it doesn't meet buyer expectations.

During the 1960s and 1970s though, in attempts to ease the enormous pressure that competition had come to apply, companies began bundling their products together and selling them as "solutions" for customer problems. This did help them differentiate their products from those of the competition, but it only shifted that pressure onto the products.

Previously, in order to satisfy their customers, the manufacturers only had to provide a product that worked; now, they had to actually solve problems. As the faces of the company, sales professionals have always been the ones to shoulder much of that pressure in order to meet quotas. The smart sales professionals quickly abandoned their previous smooth-talking ways and slipped into more of a business-partner role with their customers, since you might be able to pressure someone into spending $200, but definitely not $20,000.

And now in 2018, we have both the pressure to solve problems, and; as a result of every company bundling their products into solutions, we've seen a return of that cut-throat competition that originally led companies to bundle in the first place—across just about every industry.

The breakthrough that has been formulated in response to today's complicated B2B sales environment is the Challenger Model, pioneered by Matthew Dixon and Brett Adamson in their book, "The Challenger Sale." It involves the company, and specifically the salesperson, knowing more about the customer's industry than the customer does, and making sales by teaching the customer.

The complexity involved in modern sales is almost absurd, and it is definitely a far cry from the profession of the fast-talking, greasy, used-car salesmen in the movies. Simply put, the meticulous research, preparation, industry knowledge, product familiarity, and planning that goes into sales now make it a job only a nerd can do, and that appeals to me.

In my opinion, sales is more difficult than engineering in some ways because it has a strong people element, and people are unpredictable, frankly annoying, and a lot harder to deal with than numbers are. Sales professionals must, in addition to all their knowledge and preparation, master the art of controlling and directing conversations, staying one step ahead of the customer at all times, and leveraging other relationships within the customer organization in order to influence decision makers.

For me, this people element has definitely been the hardest part of learning to sell, but Reynolds has embraced Challenger from the top down, which provides a lot of support, coaching, resources, and industry intelligence to the sales professionals, and that definitely makes it doable.

Sales is absolutely not for everyone, and I will be the first person to tell you that. It appeals to me though, because I do not want to work in a cubicle anymore. I want to travel all over. I want the freedom to make my own schedule and give myself a raise anytime I want just by working harder. I want a high-stress and high rewards job that pushes me and stretches me and requires me to do something different every day. I have never had the door-to-door snake-oil salesman personality, nor do I plan to develop it; furthermore, no successful sales professional I know behaves that way either. What they do have is an insatiable desire to learn, solve problems, and teach people about their product—in other words, they're nerds, and I'm 100% here for it.

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A Review Of MLB 2019's First Two Weeks And A Rest-Of-Season Outlook

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Note: All statistics and standings referenced in this article were sourced from the official MLB website.


AL

East

The AL East has been quite a surprising division, with the Tampa Bay Rays jumping out to a quick nine and three record, with the third best win percentage in the entire league. Perhaps the biggest concern in this division is not the unexpected rise to the top for the Rays, but the fall of the defending World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox, to the bottom of the division, with just a measly 3 wins. I am sure the Red Sox will recover from their slow start, but considering they are already 6 games behind the division leading Rays, it will hard for them to win their division once again.

Central

The Indians are once again leading the AL Central here in the early goings of the season, with a seven-three record to start the year. However, the Tigers have also made a name for themselves already, just a half a game behind Cleveland with a seven-four record, and the Minnesota Twins are only a game behind as well. This division may well be an interesting one to watch as the season goes on, with lots of teams already in close contention and winning records.

West

My oh my, the league-leading Seattle Mariners are on top of the AL West, with an impressive 10 wins and two losses to make for a lopsided .833 win percentage. It helps that their bats have stayed hot and their pitching has stayed dominant, accounting for their league-best +37 run differential. The next best team, the Astros, are already 3.5 games behind the Mariners, and considering the Mariners show no signs of slowing, they will likely dominate the rest of the season.

NL

East

The NL East has been my personal favorite division so far, not just because it has my personal favorite Atlanta Braves. Behind the AL Central, the NL East is the second-most competitive division so far in the year. After getting swept by the Philadelphia Phillies to start the year, the Braves have won six out of their last 7 games, jumping out to a six-four record, 1.5 games behind the seven-and-two Phillies. In addition, the Mets have also played well and are also only one game behind, with a six-three record.

Central

The NL Central has gone about as expected in the first two weeks. The defending AL Central champs Milwaukee Brewers have taken a two game lead already at eight wins and three losses, and the Cubs have gotten into a slump, falling to three-and-seven within the first 10 games. This division seems to be inconsistent outside of the Brewers, however, so it may be interesting to see what happens to the Pirates and the Cardinals as the season continues.

West

As to no one's surprise, the Dodgers have jumped out in front of the rest of the teams in the NL West, with an eight wins and three losses. This is especially unsurprising considering the Dodgers have Cody Bellinger, who leads the league in home runs with 7, and the fact that the Dodgers have the best team batting average in the league with .296. However, the seven-and-four San Diego Padres are just a game behind LA and one good series could put them ahead, making for a good battle the rest of the season.

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Lakers Struggle Early

Even with the King at the helm, the Lakers seem to be falling below expectations.

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The new look Los Angeles Lakers have debuted, and after a disappointing 4-6 start, there are rumblings of head coach Luke Walton being on the hot seat. The Lakers have faced off against tough teams like the Rockets, Raptors, and Timberwolves but the losses against those competing teams have been ugly.

While the Lakers will most likely improve on their record from last year, the expectations given in the offseason might be a bit too high for LA to reach. Lebron James is the clear leader of the team and is working with lots of young talent like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma. All three of these players have shown a lot in their first years and will most likely develop into steady NBA players, but playing in LA with Lebron, they need to win now.

This is a tough time for the Lakers as they're still trying to find lineups and schemes that work well for their team for the postseason. The young players are still adjusting to having the spotlight on them all the time playing with Lebron, but there is something that every Lebron team has had that the Lakers don't, shooters.

The Lakers are full of players who can spread the ball around and make plays in transition but the key to playing on a team with Lebron is outside shooting. Lebron is a very physical player who can draw double teams in the paint, and when this happens it opens up other players on the outside. The problem with LA is that they don't have a consistent shooter to take that role.

Players like Josh Hart or Lonzo Ball can make shots, but if they're the best shooters on your team, you're in trouble. The trade deadline in the middle of the season would most likely be the time that the Lakers try to make a move for an outside shooter. LA also is hoping to make a big splash in free agency next year with names like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony Davis all being rumored targets for the Lakers.

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