Attention graduates: If you’re interested in a financially and personally rewarding career, think sales, said Rajiv Mehta, PhD, associate professor in the school of management at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
Mehta, the co-author of Personal Selling: Building Customer Relationships and Partnerships (Houghton Mifflin, March 2007), believes the demand for sales jobs will grow by leaps and bounds. According to the most recent Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the department of labor, sales jobs are expected to rise upwards of 10 percent through 2012. Plus, these jobs pay well. A national compensation study reported in Sales & Marketing Management magazine reported that the average annual income across all levels of sales exceeds $100,000.
Sales careers are personally rewarding, too, said Mehta. “Rapid growth in telecommunications and global markets have propelled personal selling into one of the most dynamic, fast¬ changing, and rewarding of all the business opportunities. Organizations in business-to-business markets are trying innovative approaches, sales channels, and technologies to sell products and services profitably in global competition,” he said.
Sales jobs are a great training ground. “They provide versatile backgrounds from which to enter other fields,” Mehta said. “CEOs of many major corporations started careers in sales.”
A significant percentage of college grads eventually gravitate towards sales careers regardless of their original intentions. “Research shows,” Mehta said, “that nearly 20 percent of all college graduates, regardless of their majors, start careers in some area of sales.” Typical sales job titles include stockbroker, marketing representative, account manager, customer representative and development officer.
Sales jobs pay well too. Entry-level salespersons with one to three years experience earn on average $50,000.
What are other benefits of a sales career?
Sales jobs encompass more than just selling. “With advances in telecommunications technology,” said Mehta, “Salespeople are becoming increasingly independent of managers. They now serve customers more like consultants and business partners.”
Successful salespeople find themselves consulting regularly with customers to determine the best combination of products and services to satisfy their customers’ business needs. They explore innovative strategies to provide greater value-added service and to build mutually profitable, ongoing relationships and partnerships, which is the thrust of his co-authored text.
“I also want my students to have the right attitude about work so they can enter a sales job and succeed,” he added.
For example, from the purchasing side, professional buying centers for both commercial and non-profit organizations are becoming increasingly sophisticated and demanding in the performance they expect from suppliers. To help students better understand the selling process, Mehta’s book details that process. Chapters include clear descriptions of how to prospect for and find qualifying customers, plan sales calls, do presentations and demonstrations, negotiate sales resistance, close the deal, and follow-up with customer service.
Of course, the experience of work is always the best teacher. NJIT’s unique internship programs with area companies give students that marketplace advantage. Mehta’s classes and his text buttress those experiences with internet exercises, role playing games, case studies and more.
“Ultimately, I would like students to understand how critical the salesperson is to an organization’s health and well-being,” said Mehta. “Unless products and services are profitably sold companies cannot stay in business and employees lose their jobs. Every business and nearly everyone—from customers to employees—depend on the success of salespeople.”
For more information, call Mehta (973-596-6419) or see http://college.hmco.com/CollegeCatalog/CatalogController?cmd=Portal&subcmd=display&ProductID=12526.