What sales jobs did you learn the most from?

35 replies
Out of curiosity, what sales jobs did you learn the most from?

Not necessarily the one where you earned the most, just the one which you think was most profitable to your growth as a salesperson.
#jobs #learn #sales
  • Profile picture of the author bob ross
    I learned sales working for a high pressure window/siding company. Prior to being hired and going to the training I didn't even know people "sold" things.
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    • Profile picture of the author savidge4
      No questions asked High End Fine Art sales. When to be patient and when to pounce. And when these guys went after you.. watch out. The best line ever.... "If you have a heart beat and a credit card lets do this deal!" that was for a $500,000 sculpture. I kid you not! 10% commission to boot.
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      • Profile picture of the author Underxman
        Selling phone contracts and subscriptions over the phone. Most painful job i've had so far but it paid my bills and apartment during high school. It made me learn how to be cold and look someone in the eyes and convice them something is good when infact, it is not.
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        • When I was 10 I was a paperboy for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. My boss, Mr. Baca taught me how to sell, upsell, cold call and offer different delivery plans all from a paper route. Within a year I went from 1 route to 5 routes. This was back in the 1960's.
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  • Profile picture of the author Thomas Michal
    Selling precious metals - gold, silver & platinum.

    Straight boiler room dialing for dollars.
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    • Profile picture of the author socialentry
      Originally Posted by Thomas Michal View Post

      Selling precious metals - gold, silver & platinum.

      Straight boiler room dialing for dollars.
      How does that work? :confused:

      Each week I am surprised to learn what is being sold over the phone.
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  • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
    My learning has been in stages.
    My first was 100% cold calling.
    My second was mixture of cold and warm leads.

    Those two taught me the foundation.

    Every other sales job I took was to increase my skill and understanding.
    Each one provided a little something the others did not.

    You know how a lot of people read books to learn something?
    That is how I picked my jobs. I do mean "I picked".

    After a few years I was pretty sought after, never turned down and never in my life fired.
    I gave each place 1000% and raped all the top dogs egos, until I had
    nothing left to learn. Then I found another "school" to go work for.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheBigBee
    I sold magazine subscriptions door to door right out of high school. It was the worst, best job in the world. We had to work (knock on doors) 8-10 hours per day. When I say the WORK DAY was 8 to 10 hours, I mean that. When you add breakfast, lunch, and breaks, it came to more like 16... Six days a week.

    I was really bad at the job. I got fired after three months. 5 weeks later, I begged for, and got my job back.

    Before I got fired, I remember when they brought a crews together in Phoenix for Thanksgiving. I was so bad at the job that I had to work Thanksgiving Day. 190 kids in the hotel and 11 of us had to work.

    Anyway, one night on the floor of my hotel sitting on the radiator was this girl who was "the Michael Jordan of Magazines." She had a 27 sale day. I have had many 27 sale weeks.

    I went up to her thinking I could get her to tell me her secret sales pitch. Clearly, she had to be using some sort of magical pitch or spell. I nervously struck up a convo and eventually got the guts to ask her; "what's your secret?" Her reply; "you just have to want it, you just have to want it." She was 19. I was 19.

    My trainer gave me the same b.s. line and he was damn good...

    I thought I "wanted it." I went out everyday and busted my ass. They only hired me back after they fired me from the worst job on earth because the middle managers were like; "he tries so damn hard, and he's so positive in the van, give him another shot!"

    When I got my second shot, I was put into the van with an "up and coming" car handler. In other words, I was put in a van with all the weakest performers.

    I was deemed to be the weakest of the bunch so the guy drops me off in a subdivision and says "see you in 2 hours." That was the norm. Except he never came back.

    I had one sale at the time, waited for 30 minutes. That was the rule, wait for 30, then go back to work. I waited 45 minutes.

    Then I went back into the subdivision and knocked over the top of my own self until about 8 ish. I got my 10th sale and had the customer drive me to the hotel.

    I checked in with the most sales that day. If you tally up my sales from that day, until the day I got promoted (had to knock fewer doors), I was the #1 male in the company.

    I had finally learned what it meant to "want it."

    You can be all "wound up" and think you "want it." But if you don't have the confidence you're screwed. Confidence in your skills helps you focus on executing without giving a bleep about whether or not you will actually achieve the results you want. Of course you have to "want to reach quota." But you have to expect to reach quota, and not hope to get it. It's really difficult to explain. But something "clicked in my brain" when that d-bag left me to fend for myself...

    If he had picked me up that day, I am 100% positive you guys would not know of my existence.

    My children will be required to take a door to door sales job for at least a summer, or they will be disowned by me.

    You learn the type of stuff they can't teach in college psych courses.

    By the way. I have never had a 27sale day. My high day is 18. I got it in Hawaii. On Navy housing. Where she got her 27.
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    • Profile picture of the author dreamer123
      Originally Posted by TheBigBee View Post

      I sold magazine subscriptions door to door right out of high school. It was the worst, best job in the world. We had to work (knock on doors) 8-10 hours per day. When I say the WORK DAY was 8 to 10 hours, I mean that. When you add breakfast, lunch, and breaks, it came to more like 16... Six days a week.

      I was really bad at the job. I got fired after three months. 5 weeks later, I begged for, and got my job back.

      Before I got fired, I remember when they brought a crews together in Phoenix for Thanksgiving. I was so bad at the job that I had to work Thanksgiving Day. 190 kids in the hotel and 11 of us had to work.

      Anyway, one night on the floor of my hotel sitting on the radiator was this girl who was "the Michael Jordan of Magazines." She had a 27 sale day. I have had many 27 sale weeks.

      I went up to her thinking I could get her to tell me her secret sales pitch. Clearly, she had to be using some sort of magical pitch or spell. I nervously struck up a convo and eventually got the guts to ask her; "what's your secret?" Her reply; "you just have to want it, you just have to want it." She was 19. I was 19.

      My trainer gave me the same b.s. line and he was damn good...

      I thought I "wanted it." I went out everyday and busted my ass. They only hired me back after they fired me from the worst job on earth because the middle managers were like; "he tries so damn hard, and he's so positive in the van, give him another shot!"

      When I got my second shot, I was put into the van with an "up and coming" car handler. In other words, I was put in a van with all the weakest performers.

      I was deemed to be the weakest of the bunch so the guy drops me off in a subdivision and says "see you in 2 hours." That was the norm. Except he never came back.

      I had one sale at the time, waited for 30 minutes. That was the rule, wait for 30, then go back to work. I waited 45 minutes.

      Then I went back into the subdivision and knocked over the top of my own self until about 8 ish. I got my 10th sale and had the customer drive me to the hotel.

      I checked in with the most sales that day. If you tally up my sales from that day, until the day I got promoted (had to knock fewer doors), I was the #1 male in the company.

      I had finally learned what it meant to "want it."

      You can be all "wound up" and think you "want it." But if you don't have the confidence you're screwed. Confidence in your skills helps you focus on executing without giving a bleep about whether or not you will actually achieve the results you want. Of course you have to "want to reach quota." But you have to expect to reach quota, and not hope to get it. It's really difficult to explain. But something "clicked in my brain" when that d-bag left me to fend for myself...

      If he had picked me up that day, I am 100% positive you guys would not know of my existence.

      My children will be required to take a door to door sales job for at least a summer, or they will be disowned by me.

      You learn the type of stuff they can't teach in college psych courses.

      By the way. I have never had a 27sale day. My high day is 18. I got it in Hawaii. On Navy housing. Where she got her 27.
      Fantastic post how does one acquire the attitude of wanting it?
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  • Profile picture of the author Peter Lessard
    I was doing door to door at 12. After that did cold calling, car sales and b2b all by 22. Thought I knew it all. When I completely pushed out of my mind all the hard sell crap that was taught to me and figured out that if I sold something that made my clients more money than it cost them or was actually of equal or greater value than what they were paying, I would be set for life ;-)

    Took reading stuff by Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie to get me back on track as well as being an observer. All these so called awesome sales guys I had learned from were chain smokers, drunks and afraid to ever meet the prospect a second time in a dark alley after the sale.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brady Partridge
    I learned from all of them. I learned that I didn't like any of them.
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  • Profile picture of the author mdiaz
    I used to sell vacuum cleaners door to door. I would say that I learned the most doing this because whatever fear I had of talking to people, knocking on doors and talking to people I never met before help build my confidence.
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  • Profile picture of the author wsands
    I've done pretty much every kind of sales. Retail, Cars, Knocked Doors for Cancer Insurance, B2B (of course), and even sold directv inside walmart, which is kind of like door knocking mixed with retail.

    I'd say I really learned the most about business when I worked retail for Best Buy selling tv's and surround sound systems. I had to track numbers, segment customers and change selling tactics. It was pretty fun. We had 4 segments of customers, I had to determine where you fell within a few questions and observations (wedding ring, age, etc...), then each segment had a male, female, and couple approach. So I had to learn different sales techniques depending on what segment you fell into. That was also the job that had me convinced that I needed to get out of working hourly for someone else, I made $9.50/hr, which was about a dollar more per hour than my co-workers on average, yet I would sell $10k-$20k worth of merchandise every time I worked. I figured out one time that if they just paid me a 2% commission I would be making like $30+/hr and that they should treat sales people like us a little better because without us they wouldn't sell anything. Then I realized that they wouldn't treat us better or pay us better because it was cheaper for them to just wear us out, and plug another willing idiot into their training system and the customer experience wouldn't change. So I quit.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      I sold vacuum cleaners in people's homes for about 35 years.

      I don't think it's possible to learn more about selling or human nature than repeated presentations to people who are dead set against buying, when you show up.


      For a short time, I worked with a old broken down encyclopedia salesman, that taught me whole new ways of selling. He was unscrupulous and not a nice person...but he sure knew how to sell.

      I had a habit of meeting great salespeople in other fields, and would go with them on a presentation or two. They would also go with me. Usually, it was a great learning experience for both of us.
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  • Selling insurance. It was all about the soft pitch and building a relationship with your clients.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce NewMedia
    I sold books (similar to encyclopedias) door to door and at mall kiosks in last year of high school and early years of college....a big challenge for sure, and took some attitude adjustment, but turned
    out to be the best training for every sales job after that....AND for writing successful sales copy too.
    ..also basement waterproofing sales taught me almost as much.

    I think direct face-to-face sales is the best training ground for any offline or online business.
    _____
    Bruce
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  • Profile picture of the author TrumpiaTim
    Software sales really helped grow my overall communication and selling skills.
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  • Profile picture of the author joshril
    Life insurance sales... most of the prospecting was done via phone or door to door.
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  • Profile picture of the author misterme
    I sold land in the Poconos in a boiler room, real estate, employment agent, flea market selling whatever I could get my hands on, a stint as a show promoter, worked at a Chevy dealership (and I took away a few things from selling cars but not much more), but all those positions taught me mostly one thing - and that's that having a boss sucks. In my own business selling my own services I've learned the most.
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  • Profile picture of the author ruhiraisa
    Hi. Sell expensive materials like gold, platinum ,silver , diamond .
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  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    Honestly?

    When I was a manager for Blockbuster. Friends over the years had always told me I should sell cars, insurance, and etc because I seemed to have a nature understanding of people and selling. But I was afraid of commission in large part because those same friends worked more hours and made the same or less money than I did.

    For those who used to be Blockbuster customers you may remember the roll out of the "movie pass" which was an in store unlimited rental program. I had started just months before it happened so Blockbuster was still new to me as well.

    During that launch, which was pushed hugely by corporate, I discovered something about myself that the others had seen. During the first few weeks of the program sales were horrid on it across the company save for a handful of stores. One of which was the store where I was being trained. I knew from our district voicemails (didn't have email back then) that our store was selling more than the rest of the district combined. In fact I personally was selling more than the rest of the district combined.

    Soon after they started rotating me between stores to do two things. First sell for those stores so their numbers were higher. Second to train the staffs how to sell. Quickly our district was one of the top producers in the company.

    Soon after I was given my own store and in that store I was able to get our loyalty percentage (rewards, movie pass, online pass) to the highest not only in the district but in the region. Was number 105 (or so) in the whole company.

    Plus despite having the vast majority of our customers on one or more loyalty programs we continued to outsell the other stores in the district. I could still personally outsell my staff but I didn't need to. I let them sell and stepped in for a TO to help when I knew they were close but couldn't quite close.

    Unlike most people I never believed sales were "hard" but until that moment I never realized how easy it was. I also realized I was making way less than I could be and left that job.

    Honestly I am still making way less than I could be. If you can sell there is little limit to how much you can make. Yes getting there may mean taking short term cuts in pay to go to another industry but in the long run the only thing holding you back is yourself. And that is a topic for another discussion and one I personally need help with.
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  • Profile picture of the author vndnbrgj
    I started selling door to door. I sold both to homeowners and businesses. I sold toys, coupon books, home improvement services, Kirby's, energy services, and AT&T.
    I got started in door to door because my neighbor Tim was doing it and made some decent money. I knew if he could do it, I could.
    We would go out knocking on doors for about 4 or 5 hours a day. In that time, we would make about $200 for the day. Then, we would go to the strip club for a couple of hours and get some lap dances. The dances were $1 a piece, and since we were there almost everyday, we didn't have to pay for a cover or for drinks. Then, we would leave the strip club and go back to the office to get paid. I loved making $150 a day (after spending money at the strip club), and only working 4 or 5 hours a day.

    After that, I went to school for heating and cooling. When I was done with school, there weren't any jobs in my area. Eventually, I ended up with a job doing air duct cleaning. We would walk into a home for $59 and try to upsell to $1000. I was terrible. The first company I worked for, I barely covered the $250/week I spent on gas. The manager gave me a salary, and sent me on the call backs. After that company went under, for the managers pocketing the cash, I went to work for one of the guys that worked there. Same concept. Except, I realized that sales was the same. I thought it was different because I wasn't selling anything, I was providing a service. I was wrong. I would go on two or three jobs a day, at $59 a piece. I learned how to sell a service, and made over $1,000 a week.

    As a combination of all of the above, I learned how to sell both a product and a service. It didn't matter what I was selling, the process was the same. Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. Find a need, help the customer see the need, offer a solution, get paid.
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  • Profile picture of the author dreamer123
    Anyone here transform themselves from failure to success in sales?
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    • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
      [DELETED]
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      • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
        "Anyone here transform themselves from failure to success in sales?"

        Dreamer,

        EVERYONE who starts out in sales transforms themselves from failure to success.

        Unless you're bringing orders in the door with you, on the day you start (I've done that
        but not on the first sales job.) than you are starting at the bottom and you have to work
        your way up.

        How are things going in the telecom world?
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  • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
    Originally Posted by socialentry View Post

    Out of curiosity, what sales jobs did you learn the most from?

    Not necessarily the one where you earned the most, just the one which you think was most profitable to your growth as a salesperson.
    Not a "job", but a life lesson. 10 must be a magic age for some of us.

    A neighbor asked me to pick her some flowers in a field, I over picked and she suggested I offer the wagon full of flowers to our neighbors. A guy was washing his cars, so I approached him and he told me to start at the end of the street and if anyone said, NO, to tell him and he would give me MAGIC
    words which would make them buy.

    So, I followed his advice and 15 mins later had sold all the flowers I could pick.

    The MAGIC words demonstrated to me the incredible POWER of what and how you say things to people. That day, the man gave me two books to read and study.

    Tested Sentences That Sell by Elmer Wheeler.
    The Sale Begins when the Customer Says No by Elmer Leterman

    At ten, I learned the POWER OF WORDS. And how to use them.

    gjabiz
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonwebb
    I sold cell phones for about 2 years and did door to door for ATT uverse. those experiences shaped how I sold.

    I quickly realized that I didn't have a "in your face" selling style. I am low key, more of a "back door salesman" I want to find the pain, develop that pain, then give you a solution. Its far easier to do that in written word imo than in person, as it is more dynamic.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jacob Anthony
    What a great thread! I've been selling I was 10yrs old too! I used to sell my old toys at car boot sales so that I could go and by myself some new toys or treats. My mum was a single parent and therefore couldn't afford to give me an allowance. I learned from a young age that anything I wanted, I had to go out and get it!

    My biggest lesson was selling electricity and gas door to door on a commission only basis. I did it through the wind, rain, hail, sleet and snow because I knew that if I gave up I wouldn't be able to feed my family. I learned that sales can very much be a numbers game to start off with. So I'd aim to speak to at least 100 people a day because my conversion rate was around 5-10%. It didn't matter what the weather was doing I just had to speak to at least that many people...period.

    Since then I've learned that getting to know your prospects needs and desires will massively improve your conversion rate!

    Hope this helps!
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  • Profile picture of the author Highway55
    I answered a want ad for a Warehouse Job when I was 21. Little did I know, it was a blind for a telemarketing company. I learned more in the first 3 months of that job about sales than at any other "job"...

    Side note: I also learned (at that point) that you don't need to be a doctor to make big money.

    But I will tell you this... it wasn't until I got into reading books about the psychology and behaviors of people that I began to put the pieces of sustained success together. Combined with my telemarketing and sales experience, that knowledge gave me the power (and confidence) to produce much larger numbers in my early 30s and beyond.
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    • Profile picture of the author umc
      Cool topic. I'd have to say that I learned the most at 19 years old when I started telemarketing for home improvement sales. Running the show gave me more opportunities to learn.

      I took that experience into my own self-employed business ventures in the cleaning world and that's where I got to experience more on the face to face sales in selling my own services. Kind of a two part experience for me.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Regal
    I learned from working at blockbuster for a number of years how to empathize with customers wants and needs. The best way to be a CSR is to always cator to the needs of the customers. When you deal with customers on a daily bases it always something difficult to adjust to there demands, the proper communication is absolutely everything
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  • Profile picture of the author DaniMc
    In home sales for a $5,000 product.

    I would be out in my car, the telemarketers would be on the phone. I'd get a call with an address and directions (before portable GPS) and start driving. It could be anywhere in a 1.5 hour driving radius. When you drive that far, you know you must make a sale or you lose money on gas and the night is blown.

    From the time I arrived it took about two hours to make a sale.

    Getting an address to walking out with a $5K contract in two or three hours really taught me a lot. It was a terrible job but the lessons I learned were priceless!
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  • Profile picture of the author John Regal
    The job I learned from the most would be doing customer service for a small promotional company. Nothing will teach you faster about sales then dealing with customers on a day to day basis
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Southern California Real Estate, definitely not for sissies, cry babies or wimps.

      Taught me how to research - like a private investigator.
      Plan for the unexpected - like a battlefield General.
      Deal with irrational/overemotional customers - like a mental asylum psychiatrist.
      Plus, how to be adaptable, adjustable and flexible at a moments notice.
      That's an average day requirement for a Southern California Real Estate agent.
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  • Profile picture of the author zigzager
    I learned sales from a telephone company service locally
    it was a high volume high traffic business so everything was fast paced
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