Increasing my income nine-fold in the span of fifteen years helped me achieve financial independence. I accomplished this through sales and being a sales manager. I found that when you generate income for your employer, you’re directly rewarded with income to yourself. My value to the company was quantifiable as was my value to another organization courting my abilities. Going into professional sales right out of college made this possible.
FIRE Drill Podcast Interview: Focus on Your Career to Achieve FIRE
If you’re going to sell, then I recommend selling something that’s expensive and widely needed. Here are five high-paying professional sales jobs I recommend people consider:
1) Commercial Insurance Agent: Almost all companies purchase insurance (and are required to purchase certain types of insurance). Commercial insurance is generally sold through independent brokers that underwrites and presents risk to various insurance companies, then helps negotiate the best coverage/price. This business is highly competitive for new agents, but agents are paid annually for both new business and retained customers and the only cap on earnings how much time an agent is willing to put in. Typically new employers require a college degree and some type of sales experience.
2) Commercial Leasing Agent: Commercial real estate brokers can conduct purchases/sales, but also help match landlords and tenants together. Landlords use brokers to help vet out the qualifications of tenants and negotiate the best deal. Tenants use agents to help them find space and negotiate points like how much a landlord will contribute towards build out along with rate/term of the lease. Leasing agents usually get paid up front and can have the same client use them over and over during the course of their career. Employer requirements will vary, but typically want some type of sales or real estate experience. Students in college can often get part time jobs in college towns in the property management business.
3) Business/Commercial Banking: Banks earn their money by acquiring low cost deposits and turning around to make loans to companies. Banking is a competitive business, with 10-100 banks in every market. They need salespeople to go out to businesses and solicit opportunities, as well as conduct interviews with potential borrowers to determine if their qualified. Candidates typically have a college degree and should have some experience inside a bank.
4) HVAC Sales Representative: Heating and Air Conditioning companies come in all niches, residential, commercial, new construction, and service. A diversified or commercial company will employ sales representatives to help them find new business. This can range from building relationships with general contractors to generate bidding opportunities to building relationships with landlords and property management companies for service calls. Requirements are generally a professional appearance, willingness to talk to people, and some understanding in Heating & Cooling.
5) Accountant: I know what you’re thinking, a number cruncher isn’t a salesperson. Not true! Accounting is a skill set, but businesses don’t just find an accountant out of a phone book. Independent accountants as well as small practices look for employees who can also go out and solicit new business for the firm. Accountants also have their work packed into short time periods for the year and need to find clients to generate non-peak time business. Note: This is the only sales job listed that requires a specific degree
So how do you get hired to one of these jobs?
The hiring manager or owner is looking for someone in sales for one reason – To generate more business for their company. If a salesperson performs, the company is better off. This hiring decision is tied to their success. Here are some recommendations:
Show desire. You need to tell the hiring manager you want the job, you want the opportunity, and you will be relentless in working. Leaders can coach skills, but they can’t coach work ethic and desire. It is unsurprising that many ex-athletes end up in sales. The same person disciplined enough to show up at the gym at 5:30am in college is disciplined enough to make five extra phone calls in the afternoon.
Be well researched. Do you know exactly what the company sells and how they claim to be different? Do you know who their main competitors are? Why should a customer buy from this company? A great salesperson must research their prospect before visiting, show your ability to research through preparing for your interview
Show a willingness to learn. The day you’re hired, you rank last among all other salespeople in the company. You are unlikely to have it all figured out. Much of sales is trail and error, learning that when a client says _____, then the best response from you is ______. When things don’t go as planned, ask someone what they would have said in that situation. Befriending some of the top salespeople will befriend you. Yes, they’re internal competition but if you’re selling something that’s widely needed, there will always be enough prospects.
I encourage people to give a sales career a try. The income potential is worth the work!