How can I prove my sales ability to a potential employer if I don’t have a sales background?

How can I prove my sales ability to a potential employer if I don’t have a sales background?

By Zeeva Viola | May 30, 2017


How can I prove my sales ability to a potential employer if I don’t have a sales background?


Develop and document your sales ability first. Then you’ll have it easy proving it.

Ten ideas to get you started:

1.Document selling scenarios for yourself. Think about times when you have to influence others – i.e. asking for a fast-track solution at the DMV or getting a two-year old to eat three pieces of broccoli. Come up with situations where you have to influence others and write down what you did and if your approach was successful.

2.Document your personal buying situations. Whether you’re at Macy’s buying a shirt, buying apples at the Farmer’s Market, or recalling your last car-buying experience, write down all aspects of the buying process: Did you like the salesperson? Why or why not? What did you like/dislike about the process? What were your expectations going into the purchase and did the experience match your expectations? Why did you buy/not buy the product?

3.Get a part-time sales clerk job on nights and weekends. Find a retail store where you personally like to shop (this is important because you have to love your product!), and then ask your manager to help you set sales goals. You might not be commissioned – that’s okay. Your goal here is to document sales before you and after you. Compare sales on Tuesday nights when you work with Tuesday nights when you don’t work. Document everything. Ask your manager if there are certain brands where margins are higher or quality is better, and then set a personal goal to sell $X above normal of that brand. You can probably go get a job selling cars at an auto-dealership and take all of the crappy shifts – i.e. Monday afternoons.

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4.Do sales ride-alongs. Find excellent sales people in your desired field, whatever that is (i.e. enterprise SaaS, outside pharmaceutical reps, medical technology), and ask to do ride alongs or shadow days with them.

5.Read one sales book per week. Take notes and build a personal library of notes and ideas. What do like or dislike about each book or sales approach? Think about interrelationships among sales concepts and styles. Learn the philosophy behind specific sales methods – Solution Selling, the Challenger Method, Dale Carnegie, etc. One book per week allows you time to understand the individual concepts.

6.Blog about your reading and experiences. Synthesizing information such that you have to explain it to others is the best way to learn something.

7.Take an Improv class. Put yourself in situations where you have to complete a coherent story with others in an entertaining, interesting way.

8.Attend webinars & read white papers. 

9.Build and deliver a sales presentation for a product that you really love to use. If it’s a software, product, get a trial version develop a demo. Record yourself in video and via a screen capture tool like Camtasia.

10.Ask your friends what your most annoying habit when telling them a story or explaining something. Could be verbal tics like using “actually” or “honestly.” Could be that it takes you a long time to get to the point. Could be your body language. Selling is most just storytelling (no – not lying…). It’s helping someone paint a picture in their mind about how your solution solves their problems.

**This Q&A article was originally posted on Quora. Check out Scott’s Quora page here.

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