By Debra Auerbach
When you think of a sales job, you may automatically picture someone selling a physical product. And while many sales roles do look like that, being a good sales person can get you far in a variety of careers.
In fact, many jobs have some element of sales or selling to it, whether it's completely obvious or more subtle. Some jobs may require selling something to an external client, while others may entail selling a project or idea to an internal stakeholder.
Even a job that has nothing to do with sales may still require a little selling on your part - selling the reasons why you deserve that raise or promotion during your annual performance review.
Important qualities in sales
While having the right education and experience is important when pursuing sales-related roles, many people in sales rely on their soft skills to help them succeed at their job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the qualities good sales workers possess include:
- Communication skills
- Analytical skills
- Organizational skills
- Customer-service skills
- Listening skills
- Speaking skills
- Interpersonal skills
There are certain roles where having strong sales skills can be an advantage. These roles may not all overtly scream "sales," but the skills needed to work in sales are the same or similar to the skills required for these roles. If you have a sales background but want to cast a wider net in your job search, consider these 9 jobs* where sales skills can be transferable:
1. Customer service representatives handle customer complaints, process orders and provide information about an organization's products and services. Although selling is not their main job, some representatives may help to generate sales leads while providing information about a product or service.
2. Fundraisers organize events and campaigns to raise money and other donations for an organization. They may design promotional materials and increase awareness of an organization's work, goals and financial needs. Typical duties include researching prospective donors, creating a strong fundraising message that appeals to potential donors, identifying and contacting potential donors and organizing a campaign or event that will lead to soliciting donations.
3. Lawyers advise and represent individuals, businesses and government agencies on legal issues and disputes. They communicate with their clients and others and present facts in writing and verbally to their clients or others and argue on their behalf.
4. Models pose for artists, photographers or customers to help advertise a variety of products, including clothing, cosmetics, food and appliances. Duties typically include displaying clothing and merchandise in print and online advertisements; promoting products and services in television commercials; working closely with photographers, hair and clothing stylists, makeup artists and clients to produce a desired look; and creating and maintaining a portfolio of their work.
5. Personal financial advisers give financial advice to people. They help with investments, taxes and insurance decisions. Many personal financial advisers spend a lot of time marketing their services, and they meet potential clients by giving seminars or through business and social networking.
6. Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They design media releases to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals.
7. Recruiters find, screen and interview applicants for job openings in an organization. They search for applicants by posting listings, attending job fairs and visiting college campuses. They also may test applicants, contact references and extend job offers.
8. Scouts look for new players, evaluating their skills and likelihood for success at the college, amateur or professional level. In this role, scouts usually read newspapers and other news sources to find athletes to consider; attend games, view videotapes of the athletes' performances and study statistics about the athletes to determine talent and potential; talk to the athlete and the coaches to see if the athlete has what it takes to succeed; and arrange for and offer incentives to prospective players.
9. Travel agents sell transportation, lodging and admission to entertainment activities to individuals and groups planning trips. They offer advice on destinations, plan trip itineraries, and make travel arrangements for clients.
*Job descriptions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Debra Auerbach is a writer for CareerBuilder.