Sales skills: How to be successful in a graduate sales job


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If you’ve considered a graduate sales role, you’ve almost certainly seen a generation of LinkedIn ‘influencers’ preaching about the benefits of immersing yourself in the world of sales as a young person.

They’ll often tell you that they went through the same process as you, dealing with cold calling rejections, competitive environments and even doors slamming on their face (depending on just how long they’ve been in the industry).

But, they rarely tell you how to develop and use the resources around you to make an impact.


So, we wanted to shine the spotlight on how to progress as a young person in sales.

In this post, we’ll cover why sales is a great option for graduates, as well as some of the most important things for young people to consider when starting out in a new sales role.

If you need help hiring the best graduate talent in the country, head over to our employer page!


Why choose a career in sales?

The sales landscape has evolved a considerable amount in the last decade or so, and so have the types of roles that fall under the ‘salesperson’ umbrella.

What was once stereotyped by car dealerships and cold calling is now a variety of job descriptions and day-to-day responsibilities, with a focus on relationship building largely replacing the ‘sell me this pen’ style interview common to sales folklore.

There are many great sales opportunities out there for graduates to consider, ranging from the more traditional broker style of Sales to business development roles, where you might be tasked with scouting out new business opportunities and securing them as clients.

Wherever your interest lies, sales roles are a great way for graduates to develop personable skills suited to just about any industry or career that you may be lining up for your future self.



What are the challenges of pursuing a career in sales?

Although sales roles are fundamental to business success, there are still very few opportunities for young people to learn about the industry before diving straight into it.

Sales doesn’t often appear on the syllabus or benefit from a degree-level education in the same way that other careers do.

What this does is present an obstacle for young people, whose views are often discounted due to a lack of industry experience.

This isn’t exclusive to sales roles by any means, but it is certainly a challenge more commonly felt by those starting out as sales professionals.

So the task at hand for young people is to prove that they can add value to the business with minimal industry experience behind them.

And, while you can’t do anything to change your age, there are certainly ways to improve your industry knowledge to open up opportunities for progression.


How to succeed in your sales career:

Do your research

Firstly, if you’re interviewing for sales roles you should aim to be thorough with your research on the company.

This could include reading up on their values and mission, industry research, scanning through their social channels or looking up some of their most notable clients/deals.

The research you do once you’re in the door is just as important. One of the top tips you’ll hear from any salesperson is to love what you sell.

Learning about your product inside and out is one of the easiest ways to make an impact in a role, and it’s something that every young person in sales should be doing.

Speak to the people around you, read through some of your customers’ frequently asked questions and involve yourself in industry conversations.


Focus on relationships

Sales today is all about relationships. Establishing a rapport with your customers before trying to sell them your product is what every young salesperson should strive for. Where previously a sale would be determined by whether the client bought into the product, it’s now just as much about them buying into you as a person.

In most industries there are a number of alternatives for any given product, so if you aren’t building a meaningful relationship with your customers it’s very easy for them to go with someone else.

Be empathetic, understand their problems and adapt – not every customer will need the same experience.

Repeat business is one of the biggest compliments for any salesperson, and by focusing on the customer you will undoubtedly create trustworthy relationships that will help you sell and close big deals on a long-term basis.


Immerse yourself in the company culture

Starting a sales role now is very different to how it was a year ago, while many companies were still largely remote.

One of the key attributes a salesperson needs is resilience, and rejection can be difficult to overcome if you’re doing it alone.

Whether you’ll be in the office five days a week or adopting a more hybrid approach in your new role, leverage the people around you as much as possible.

Not only is it great to have your team around you to understand how others are getting on and the problems that they’re facing, but it’s also valuable to be able to pick each other up and learn from each other.



Consistency is a tough ask, particularly when you’re just starting out. There will be times when the deals slow, and that’s ok.

If you’re continuing to nurture those relationships, you’ll begin to see results and repeat business.

Success certainly isn’t determined by being the loudest or most outgoing person in the room, it’s about people skills and relationships.

If you’re ready to apply, take a look at our business development roles and FMCG sales jobs.

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