stock business meeting

Many businesses have recently filed for bankruptcy, or even closed their doors. More companies have downsized and reduced their workforce.

For many, it is time to rethink what they would like to do for a career. Sales might be a viable option.

A surprising thing is many companies are searching for salespeople right now. For example, one investment company was looking to hire thousands of salespeople or, as they call them, financial advisers. Car dealers need good salespeople. Many retailers also have a need for salespeople. After all, people and businesses still need certain things, and we need to buy those things from people.

Working for a large department store or a car dealership might not be the lifelong career you were looking for, but it could be a starting point. Think of it in terms of wanting to become a doctor. For that to happen, you have to go to college, then medical school, then do an internship and a residency before you even get to really work and make some money. We all know that to do well at something takes hard work and a great deal of time before you see the financial outcome.

Before we jump the gun and say, “Boy, Hal gave me a great idea, I am going to go into sales and make a fortune.” Here are some things to consider before you decide if this is right for you.

Salary or commission: There are different ways to be paid as a salesperson. You can either get a salary or a commission. Most top-earning salespeople are on commission, which allows them to earn as much as their hard work allows.

Service or product: Which would you like to sell: a product, such as nuts and bolts, clothing, or cars and trucks; or a service, such as web hosting, payroll services, loans and mortgages, or life insurance?

Repeat business or a one-time sale: Does the company you are looking at sell a product or service that is bought only once or many times? Are you the kind of sales-person that wants to form relationships or move on to the next sale? There is no right or wrong answer here, it just depends on your personality and what you are looking for.

Easy to learn: I have always said that sales is an easy profession to learn, but it takes time and diligence to master. Most salespeople are average, and never get to professional status. They think they are, but in reality they are not. If you learn the science of selling by reading and going to classes, you will find that there is much more to it than saying, “Hey, I like people and I am a good talker, so this is for me.” Learning the profession is what separates the best from the average.

Own time frame and work habits: There is a lot of freedom or loneliness to this career, depending on how you look at it. Your time is your own. If you use it wisely and work hard, you will see the financial rewards. The opposite is true if you waste time and not work as hard. I have met salespeople who started out in the car business, then stayed there because they were making in excess of $100,000 per year. Others left to make more money in a different industry, such as health care. I have also met someone who used to work at a supermarket and is now a financial adviser making more than $250,000 per year. These are exceptional examples, but they made a conscious choice to be diligent and stay focused.

Build up a resume: Selling shoes might not be your dream job, but it is a place to start. Many companies will not hire you without experience, unless you are one of the greatest interviewees on earth.

Do not have to be a bulldog or aggressive: You might see pushy salespeople using high-pressure tactics in the movies or on television, but this is not how it should be in the real world. The best salespeople are quite the opposite. They are low-keyed, trustworthy, sincere, empathetic and above all, incredibly honest.

Remember, it is your life and what you want to do with it. The key is to enjoy yourself as much as possible and look forward to getting up every day.

Now, after all the gloom and doom I have talked about, there is a positive. Yes, there is sunshine even on the cloudiest days. Optimists look for opportunities, while the pessimists will continue to find fault and stay negative. Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal. I have never seen a monument erected to a pessimist.

Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at


Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

How do you feel about this article?

Choose from the options below.