As a kid, I never imagined I would be a salesman. I wanted to “do” public speaking. As an introvert, this made no sense, but nevertheless this is what I wanted.
Years later, I graduated from high school with absolutely no idea on how to start a public speaking career. As a result, I studied nursing. It was sensible, stable, and in-demand. Further, I liked the idea of caring for people for a living. I then worked in a neonatal intensive care unit. This meant I looked after premature babies with acute conditions. Even though I enjoyed the work, I realised that continuing on this path wouldn’t lead to the ultimate goal of professional speaking.
At this point, I was exposed to business and sales books. I soon realised that if I wanted to be a public speaker, I first needed to run a business. Since a business isn’t a business without clients, I embarked on the journey to learn how to sell.
My first (proper) sales job
There’s no better way to learn something than by doing it. While books and audio programs were beneficial, I knew that they couldn’t replace hands-on experience. So, I got a job at Melbourne IT in telesales.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t any good at selling. I had physical difficulty picking up the phone. All the fear symptoms were present – a pounding pulse, dry throat, and trembling hands. Nevertheless, I pushed through the emotions and worked hard to become excellent at my profession.
As a result of this work, I led a fulfilling sales career. I continued self-education outside of work, which then combined with practical experience to lay the foundation for my own business. I consider myself blessed and fortunate to be able to live out my childhood dream!
Passion and career pursuits
There are plenty of people out there giving career advice amounting to “pursue your dreams and everything will work out.” While these words appeal to many, I feel that it can be misleading . After all, I’m also passionate about playing video games, but I doubt playing 8 hours a day is going to earn or contribute to society very much.
As an alternative, I believe that it is more important to become passionate about what you do than to pursue passion. Whether you are a shoe shiner, an entrepreneur, or a sales professional, you can learn to be passionate about your job. I didn’t start off liking sales, but I became passionate about it. The great news is that you can love your work too!
I’ll admit it – this is easier said than done. When you are executing the same duties over many years, it can be difficult to be excited about what you do. Unless you have already decided to find alternate employment, my first suggestion for you is to aim for excellence. Read all the books you can to improve your skills. Watch the educational videos. Attend seminars and get help from mentors. You will enjoy your work much more if you are growing and at the top of your field.
Secondly, my advice for you is to focus on the end product of your work. Ask “How does my work contribute to my colleagues or company’s clients?” This can be more challenging if you work in non-client facing roles. However, recognise that your support makes front-line staff’s work possible. The more you focus on the human benefit of your work, the more fulfilling it will be.
Do what you must, until you can do what you want
The second major lesson was that pursuing your passion isn’t always fun & games. You will have to do work you don’t enjoy. I was not a natural salesperson and did not enjoy selling. However, I knew it was necessary for where I wanted to go. I paid the price in advance to get to where I am today.
When thinking about working toward your goals, be mindful that success always comes at a price. (Mind you, not pursuing your dreams may incur a greater cost!). For me, starting my own business costed me the comfort of a stable job. I had to say “no” to playing extra video games, listening to pop music, and many other luxuries. I’m happy to report now, many years later, that it was totally worth it!
I sincerely hope that my story will bring encouragement to you, wherever you are in your journey. Aim to be the best in your field. Focus on the value you contribute to other people. Become passionate about your work. If you have an inspirational career story to share, I’d love to hear it!
Sales Ethos provides sales training in Melbourne, Australia. Led by Ben Lai, our vision is to inspire and equip sales consultants and entrepreneurs to sell with purpose, pride, and integrity. Our core belief is that Integrity + Skills = Success, and achieve this by providing startup business coaching, sales coaching, and sales process consulting.