When I heard that I was going to be a sales and marketing intern, I had no idea what to expect. I was very excited yet nervous at the same time. I had always been interested in sales but, to be honest, I had never sold anything. I want to take this time to share the 5 most important things I’ve learned as a sales intern and how they will continue to help me through the rest of my internship and career.
The things you learn in school will apply to your future whether you want them to or not. In school I would always say to myself, “When am I ever going to use this?” Well, that statement caught up to me a little bit quicker than I expected. For example, if I went on a sales call and met with the head of accounting, he is more than likely to pull his questions from the perspective of how the financial numbers would work. If I was a good student and paid attention in class, his question might be easier to answer based on the things I remembered from school. If I didn’t pay attention and didn’t know the difference between assets and liabilities, you can probably venture to guess what the end result would be on that sales call. Not good. That being said, I’ve learned to always be learning because you never know when it will pay off.
Have a short memory – at least where it counts.
The easiest way to lose your mind and absolutely hate your job in sales is to get frustrated when people tell you NO. This was my biggest challenge. I’m the type of person that likes to convince people to my way of thinking, but that’s definitely not the case in sales. You have to teach yourself to have a short memory and let all the rejections you receive go in one ear and out the other. Think about a game of baseball. You can’t get up to the plate and expect to hit a home run every time. You have to work the pitcher and take base hits, have your fair share of outs and sacrifice fly balls until eventually you connect. The same philosophy holds true on sales. If you struggle with failure and are unable to have a short memory, it will be difficult for you to be successful in sales. In baseball, if you fail more than 7 out of 10 times, you’re still considered to be a good player. In the area of complex sales, those percentages are not even that good, so you better have a short memory.
Be observant of your boss/mentor.
Most of us college kids will ask ourselves the same question, “What does it take to make it in the real world?” The answer is easy and right in front of us, our bosses and supervisors who work alongside us. Our bosses hold their current positions for a reason. They worked hard and put in countless hours to achieve the title and status they presently hold. This means that you should listen to your boss, be observant of their actions, and watch how they carry themselves around clients and in sales calls. If you do these things you’ll be able to build on the knowledge that they have already accumulated, which will put you in an advantageous position over your peers.
Calling is only part of the job.
Whether it’s calling to confirm registrations for an upcoming business event, having a conference call with a client, or cold calling numerous companies across the Dayton region, calling is something every salesperson has to do. This form of communication is extremely important in today’s society. With all of the growth in technology and everyone having their own personal phone, calling isn’t going away anytime soon. This is why I have been tasked with numerous calling campaigns to become more familiar having phone conversations. The real lesson learned here is that practice makes perfect and the more you do it, the more that you will be comfortable talking to a complete stranger.
Have fun with it and make mistakes.
Yes, I said it, make mistakes. The easiest way to learn is to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. You’re not going to be the best salesperson or employee right out of the gate, and that’s ok. You have to remind yourself that an expert at anything was once a beginner. I’m not saying to blame all of your mistakes on the fact that you are new and young, but to keep an open mind and don’t get discouraged with failure.
With that being said, have fun with what you do and enjoy the people around you. When considering a place to work, take the company culture into consideration. If it doesn’t fit you, it’s probably not a good match. Find a company where you can be yourself and strive to be the person that you want to be, because when you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.