How to Get a Sales Job, Even if you Lack Experience

John Rydell


12 min

Inside this article:

How to spend time on self-development

How to make meaningful connections

How to fine-tune your resume

How to prepare for an interview

How to showcase your passion

Remember the core sales principles

Getting a sales job isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have much experience. Don’t worry, everyone has to start somewhere. Even star salespeople were rookies at one point in their career, so there’s no reason that you can’t get a sales job with little or no experience if you approach it correctly.

That’s why in this post we’re going to show you how to get a sales job, even if you have no sales experience.

We will cover:

Let’s begin!

How to spend time on self-development

If you’re seeking a position in sales, start by educating yourself. As the old saying goes, the more you learn, the more you earn, and that definitely applies to sales jobs.

Here are some great ways to learn more:

Find a few voices you trust and spend time absorbing their knowledge. You’ll grow much faster as a sales person if you invest in learning on your own. And when you apply for a job in sales, hiring managers will be able to tell that you’re not coming in completely inexperienced by the way you answer their interview questions.

How to make meaningful connections

One of the best ways to get a good opportunity is to know the right people. Surprisingly, most people get sales jobs from people they don’t know that well, like second-degree connections (i.e. friends of friends or acquaintances).

That’s why it’s important for you to connect with new individuals, especially those in companies that interest you.

To make the right connections, join sales groups on LinkedIn and become an active member. Ask questions and join conversations on other sales related posts on LinkedIn. Also, make sure you have a good LinkedIn profile so people become interested in connecting with you.

You can also attend relevant in-person networking events. These are relevant places for meeting new people within the industry who are already doing what you want to do - selling products and services. To get the most out of these events, check out this post: Networking Event Tips – Making More & Better Connections.

Lastly, keep in touch with existing friends, family, and acquaintances and let them know you’re interested in becoming a sales representative and working towards finding your dream company. You never know who may be hiring and could help in your search.

By creating and maintaining relationships with professionals - particularly those in the sales and marketing fields - you’ll increase the hiring opportunities that come your way.

How to fine-tune your resume

Standing out in a crowded job market can be tough. As a job seeker, you must have a good resume.

To do that, here are three tips to help make you and your profile stand out from everyone else looking for a sales role:

  1. Customize it for the job. Any skills, jobs, or experiences you put on your resume should relate in some way to the sales position you’re applying for. For example, if you were a non-profit event coordinator, you could mention that you became really comfortable building quick relationships with strangers and displaying your people skills.
  2. Make it easy to consume. Don’t clutter your resume. Make it easy for the reader to find what they’re looking for by making it skimmable and clear. It should start with the most important information and end with the least important.
  3. Keep it professional but not wordy. Don’t use big, fancy words to impress the sales manager. It won’t work. Instead, focus on removing all typos and errors to show prospective employers that you take your work seriously.

To help you achieve these three tips, ask friends or relatives for constructive feedback - especially those who have experience writing resumes. The second set of eyes will likely catch the errors that you miss.

And if you know somebody at the company you’re applying to (which hopefully you do if you’ve been making connections), then ask if they can personally hand your resume to a decision maker. This is a great way to stand out from all the other job seekers.

How to prepare for an interview

As Zig Ziglar said, “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” It would be foolish to go into a good job interview unprepared.

You don’t have to know everything about sales. But you should know how to articulate your strengths and weaknesses, pitch yourself and your skills, and answer common interview questions.

Don’t hide your lack of direct sales experience. Rather, be honest and transparent about the fact that you’re inexperienced and want to learn.

Also, research the company before your interview. Understand what they do, who their primary customers are, and the common roadblocks preventing them from growing faster.

Last, you need to make sure this is the right fit for you too. You don’t want to work for a company you won’t like and don’t think will help your career. Ask questions to learn more about their business and show you’re curious to understand it better. They’ll respect that this is a big decision for you and that you’re only interested in good opportunities.

The hiring manager can tell when you’re prepared. If you want to land a job with a good sales team, do your homework and go to the interview prepared to impress your prospective employer.

How to showcase your passion

When it comes to sales, passion can make up for a lack of experience. If you truly want to have a successful sales career, your passion will prove it.

So many people just go through the motions. They take a job because they think it will lead to a good career, not because they enjoy the actual work it entails. They aren’t motivated by trying to master their craft.

Don’t get into sales for no reason. Do it because you want to be a good salesperson and because you enjoy learning how to improve at it.

During your interview, explain why you’re interested in sales and want to get more experience with it.

Ask yourself:

  • Have you ever spent hours trying to get better at a sales tactic?
  • Did your eyes light up after watching a specific sales video?
  • Were you captivated after reading a Zig Ziglar book?

Let them know the exact moment that you realized you wanted to be a salesperson, and what made you so attracted to the occupation. There’s no need to be overdramatic. But high energy and enthusiasm will help make your passion more convincing.

Companies want to hire people who are passionate about their job. If they know that you’re going to spend your free time improving your sales skills because it’s what you enjoy doing, they’ll be much happier hiring you for the position. If your passion is obvious, hiring you will be an easy decision.

Remember the core sales principles

It’s easy to be nervous about your lack of experience. But you can apply the three core sales principles to sell yourself during your job hunting process:

  1. Sales are built on trust. Employers want honest employees and people they can trust. By selectively sharing stories that other people might hide, you can display honesty and trustworthiness.
  2. Benefits sell. Features don’t. Don’t tell prospective employers what you’re good at - tell them how you can make their lives better. Don’t say, “I have a great work ethic.” Tell them, “I might not be experienced, but I’ll work so hard and want this so bad that I’ll be one of your top salesman in less than three years.”
  3. Persistence pays. This is a double-whammy. If you get rejected by a company, follow up and get feedback. Ask for another opportunity. Apply when they have another opening. Continue meeting people who work there. Salespeople have to be persistent with prospects to close deals. By being persistent in your job hunt process, you are showing prospective employers that you’ll make a good sales rep.

While it can be difficult to get a sales job with little or no experience, everyone starts out that way. You have many resources at your disposal and you can acquire some necessary skills and traits outside of a sales environment. Focus on the strategies above and soon you’ll find yourself landing that sales job you’ve been hoping for.

Do you have any additional job search advice? Let us know in the comments below!

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