How to Get into Sales: 9 Essential Strategies for Success

Illustration of 2 men shaking hands after signing a contract.

Breaking into sales may seem like a daunting task, especially if you don’t have previous sales experience.

Maybe you aren’t even sure if a sales job or career is right for you.

Not to worry, this blog post provides an in-depth guide about exactly how to get into sales, and begin your journey in this lucrative field.

It will help you determine if you have the right attributes to thrive.

It will help you to leverage your existing life experiences and provide critical knowledge and strategies, so you can get your first sales job interview.

You will learn about various sales jobs for beginners, the competitive nature of sales teams, and how sales positions work, including management expectations and quotas.

We will explore why adopting a growth mindset is crucial for any successful career in selling, the attributes you must develop in a sales job, including how to build courage while overcoming fear.

Beyond beginner sales positions, we will also explore the different types of sales roles including new business development, account management, and the differences between inbound and outbound selling.

We will finish off with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about starting a career in this field.

By the end of this article, you will know if sales is right for you, and if it is, you’ll be ready to land your first sales job!

Why Sales is a Great Career Option

Are you seeking a job that demands hard work, versatility, and ongoing growth? Does the idea of unlimited income potential excite you? Do you like challenges and clarity on how well you are performing?

If so, sales could be an ideal career option.

It’s one of those rare fields where your success largely depends on your efforts rather than just qualifications or experience.

In sales, building relationships is vital. Connecting with people and providing personalized solutions to their issues is both stimulating and satisfying. This not only makes the job interesting but also rewarding.

The earning potential in sales can be quite high compared to other professions. Most sales roles offer a base salary plus commissions or bonuses based on performance. So if you’re good at what you do, there’s no limit to how much you can earn.

Besides financial rewards, working in sales also helps develop valuable skills which are transferable across industries and roles:

  • Negotiation: Every sale involves some level of negotiation – understanding customer needs while balancing company goals.
  • Communication: Effective communication is necessary for conveying value propositions clearly and persuasively.
Illustration of a woman and a man discussing something.
  • Problem-Solving: Successful selling often requires identifying client challenges and then proposing suitable solutions.
  • Resilience: Sales involve rejection; developing resilience helps maintain positivity despite setbacks.

All these reasons make it clear why choosing a career in sales, whether selling business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C), might just be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

And the best part about getting started? You don’t actually need sales experience! Read on to learn exactly how to get into sales.

1. Break into Sales by Using Your Life Experiences

So, are you wondering how to get into sales when you have no prior experience? Instead, use your life experiences to your advantage.

No matter your background, there are aptitudes and related expertise you can apply to a profession in sales.

Your past work experience may have taught you how to charm clients or manage your time like a pro – both essential in sales.

What about unrelated jobs or volunteer gigs? Perhaps you developed great communication skills or gained insights into different people and consumer behaviors?

Did you thrive at delivering presentations in school? Well, that’s a perfect proxy for delivering sales presentations.

To make the most of these experiences:

  • Analyze Your Skills: Identify the transferable skills from your previous jobs or life events that are applicable in a sales role.
  • Create A Compelling Resume: Show off these skills on your resume. Need tips? Check out this helpful resource.
  • Nail The Interview: Use real-life examples when answering questions about handling tough situations, working with others, or achieving goals.
Illustration of an interviewer and interviewee shaking hands across a desk.

My first sales experience was gained in a retail banking environment as a teller. I became successful at building customer relationships and upgrading account packages.

I later parlayed that experience into a recruiting job where I was trained on key sales foundations. I then upgraded to selling small-ticket online services, and then big-ticket software.

Beyond having relevant experience, figure out how to position yourself during job applications and interviews. A good hiring manager is often searching for sales characteristics and traits vs. specific selling experience.

2. Overcome Fear and Develop Courage

Entering the sales industry can be scary, but hey, fear is just a part of the game. Embrace it, learn from failure, and become a hyper-confident sales machine.

Acknowledge Your Fears

Face your fears head-on and watch them shrink away like scared little puppies.

Fear is one of the success pitfalls that keep most people away from even considering a career in sales.

The key to overcoming fear is to acknowledge its critical role in life and realize that good things come to those who overcome challenges.

Lean into your fear and trust in your strength. If you can do this, opportunity and massive rewards await.

Create a Plan

Having a clear plan is like having a secret weapon against fear and inevitable setbacks.

As a new salesperson, your employer will support you with guidelines on how to be successful. Follow the plan, exceed daily expectations, and persevere regardless of your feelings each day.

Create an action plan that is not outcome dependent, meaning that you will execute it regardless of how many failures you experience.

Persist Despite Rejection

Remind yourself that each “no” brings you one step closer to an emphatic “yes”. Keep pushing, my friend.

Developing courage means stepping out of your comfort zone.

Stop thinking about it and just make those cold calls.

Stop worrying about failure and just pitch the best you can.

Quit being sensitive and just ask for feedback.

The journey to fearlessness may seem tough, but with practice and determination, you will get there faster than you think.

3. Embrace a Growth Mindset

The sales industry is always changing, so successful salespeople must adapt.

That means having a growth mindset – an attitude that accepts challenges, bounces back from setbacks, sees effort as the path to mastery, learns from criticism, and finds inspiration in the success of others.

A growth mindset means seeing failures as opportunities to learn and improve.

It’s about believing that through hard work and dedication, you can develop your abilities and generate the results you want. Brains and talent are just the starting point:

  • Embrace Challenges: Don’t avoid tough tasks; they are chances to grow.
  • Persist in Setbacks: What are you learning through your failures? Now adapt and try again.
  • See Effort as a Pathway to Mastery: Only great effort leads to growth, just like in the weight room.
  • Learn From Criticism: Sure criticism can hurt sometimes, but it can also point you in the right direction quickly.
  • Inspiration From Others: Don’t feel threatened by others’ success, instead be inspired. What can you learn and apply today?
Illustration of a mans head, featuring growing lightbulbs inside, implying that he has a growth mindset to gain new ideas.

To succeed in sales, fully embrace this growth mindset. It will lead to continuous learning, resilience in the face of failure, and innovative thinking – all of which will help you achieve the success you’re after.

4. Understand Sales Quotas

In the sales world, quotas are everything. Your quota is the annual sales target your employer sets for you to achieve.

Some of the best advice I can give is to establish the mental framework that achieving your quota is mandatory and non-negotiable.

Mediocre salespeople complain about their targets, whereas top performers relish the challenge.

To hit your target, follow your employers’ sales process and break things down into bite-sized goals. Think of them as your daily and weekly challenges:

  • Daily goals: Make a certain number of calls and send out a specific amount of emails and various other touches each day.
  • Weekly goals: Aim to secure a particular number of meetings or presentations per week.

Consistency in taking the right actions and achieving incremental results is key.

Meeting these mini-goals will put you on the fast track to hitting your overall quota. Plus, it’ll give you a boost of motivation and allow you to celebrate progress each day and week.

5. Explore Entry-Level Sales Jobs

There are numerous entry-level sales job opportunities that can provide you with invaluable experience and the chance to develop.

These jobs don’t require much previous experience, so they’re perfect for beginners.

Most importantly, developing your abilities in a beginner sales job will pave the way for you to level up to a good sales job, and eventually to the most lucrative sales positions available.

I went from bank teller to recruiter, to sales rep, to manager, to VP Sales all in the span of 10 years. Learning how to get into sales was step #1, and before long I was climbing the ladder!

Entry-level sales jobs come in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few, so pick one and get started:

Retail Sales Associate

Find a retailer that incentivizes sales in some way, either through commissions, bonuses, rewards, or even store credit. Pick a store you like and push those products to every customer.

Illustration of a retail storefront.


This was my first real sales job. Picture yourself identifying great candidates, and calling up hiring managers to position them for hire. Fun, challenging, and you’re helping both job seekers and employers.

Door-to-Door Sales Representative

I’m sad I never had a door-to-door sales job, because this role is a badge of honor. Local businesses of all types need help selling their products and services to local residents. Mosquito spraying services, window or gutter cleaning, snow-plowing, internet services, and more.

Inside Sales Representative

Inside sales means selling stuff over the phone. In this gig, you will get over any fear of cold calling, and have fun learning to be persuasive over the phone. Tons of businesses small and large employ inside sales reps.

Illustration of a woman wearing a headset, making inside sales calls.

Sales Development Representative (SDR)

SDRs help find leads and tee them up for more experienced sales professionals. Often this is done over the phone, but many SDRs find themselves traveling to trade shows and talking to attendees at their company’s booth. SDRs typically work in more white-collar environments where the deal sizes are larger. Still, lots of companies will hire SDRs based purely on talent and attitude, and these roles can be a fast track to better opportunities. 

No matter which path you choose, these roles can lead to bigger and better things in the sales world.

6. New Business Sales vs. Account Management

After you get a sales job, have gained some experience, and are ready to level up, you will find that careers tend to fall into 2 main categories; new business sales and account management.

They each have their quirks and perks, and involve both similar and very different sales techniques and skills.

New Business Sales, are when you are first opening a business relationship with a customer.

The challenge with new business selling is that you are the initial point of contact for the potential customer, so you need to demonstrate competence and develop trust.

Often, new business sales professionals will need to generate their own leads. This is known as outbound lead generation. Outbound lead gen involves rejection, but if you can hone your process & pitch you will make sales.

Most established companies will generate inbound leads also. Although incoming leads may seem easier than outbound, inbound leads are usually talking to your competitors as well. You will need effective strategies to compete and win with inbound leads.

  • Pros: Cha-ching!! High commissions from closed deals and the chance to bring on marquee customers.
  • Cons: Brace yourself for rejection and remember, your success depends on your hustle.

On the other hand, Account Management is all about keeping existing clients happy. As an account manager, you’ll be responsible for providing ongoing support, coordinating personnel from your company to assist clients, and upselling when the time is right.

  • Pros: More predictable income and the potential for referrals due to long-term relationships.
  • Cons: You might have to deal with some difficult clients and your income won’t be as controllable (or as high) as in new business sales.
Illustration of 2 men shaking hands after agreeing to a deal.

Choosing between these two paths depends on your strengths and preferences.

If you enjoy building relationships and solving client problems over time, account management might be your jam.

But if you thrive on the adrenaline rush of hunting and landing a big sale, then new business sales could be your calling.

7. Sales Teams and Competitiveness

Working in sales usually means being part of a team, and sales teams are always competitive. Many companies promote that competitiveness with challenges, awards, and big incentives for top performers.

Illustration of 4 entwined gears with the letters T-E-A-M in each, being supported by 4 hands.

Don’t ever let your attitude towards colleagues get toxic. Balance ambition with teamwork. Embrace healthy competition and use others’ successes as motivation.

You don’t need to feel threatened by others, instead make a habit of learning from top performers in your environment. Celebrate wins together.

A successful sales career is about more than closing deals – it’s also about navigating interpersonal dynamics, making friends, and having fun.

8. Importance of Ongoing Learning

In the ever-evolving world of sales, ongoing learning is more than a recommendation; it’s a necessity.

The most successful salespeople are those who continuously strive to expand their knowledge and skills.

Illustration of a man sitting on a lightbulb reading a book, implying that he is gaining ideas through learning.

I know you have what it takes since you are reading this article! Keep going and foster continuous learning in your career.

  • Books: There’s an abundance of excellent books that provide deep insights into the art and science of selling. Check out “The Art of Selling” by Zig Ziglar, “SPIN Selling” by Neil Rackham, and “The Challenger Sale” by Brent Adamson & Mathew Dixon.
  • Blogs: Look at the value you are getting from!
  • Podcasts: Just search for “sales” and start listening until you find some you like.
  • Online Training: Online training allows you to learn at your own pace, whenever and wherever you want.
  • Live and Virtual Seminars/Workshops: Attending live events provides opportunities for hands-on experience and networking with other professionals in the field. Webinars allow you to learn from experts across the country and the world.
  • Communities & Masterminds: Whether live or online, finding a community can help you build professional friendships and learn from others. 
  • Coaching/Mentorship: Finding a coach or mentor that has achieved the results you’re after can be incredibly beneficial. They can provide guidance based on their own experiences and help you navigate challenges.

Truly successful salespeople also set personal development goals. It’s not just about the activity and sales figures, it’s also essential to set and achieve skills improvement objectives.

Do your own research and aim to improve your communication game, develop a laser focus, and acquire new sales techniques. Build good growth habits and you will become unstoppable.

The key takeaway here is that success in sales requires more than just natural talent; it demands constant growth through ongoing learning.

9. Breaking into Sales FAQs

If you’re thinking about a sales career, you’ve got questions. Here are some commonly asked questions that may help you gain further insight.

Illustration of a man leaning on a question mark, implying that he needs help learning how to get into sales.

What sales skills do I need?

Sales gigs require killer communication (both verbal and written), resilience, self-motivation, interest in people, and the ability to build relationships based on trust. You’ll also need negotiation skills and a knack for understanding customer needs. Check out this article for more on essential sales skills.

Do I need a degree to get into sales?

Nope. While many companies prefer degrees, a good hiring manager for entry-level roles will be looking for practical experience and a can-do attitude.

A background in customer service or other client-facing roles can be very helpful. You can also take free online courses to improve your knowledge and wow hiring managers.

How can I gain experience if no one will hire me without experience?

Start with a beginner role like the ones outlined in strategy #5. These positions usually involve lead generation activities or small ticket selling, which will give you a taste of the sales world. 

There is a hiring manager in your area that wants someone just like you! Don’t worry too much about how to get into sales, instead just start applying.

I’m introverted – Can I still succeed in sales?

Definitely. Introverts often excel at listening to customers’ needs and coming up with thoughtful solutions – both critical to successful selling. Check out this Inc article on why introverts can make awesome salespeople.

Is there a lot of pressure?

Certainly, there is more pressure in a sales job than in other types of work, because there are set targets that must be achieved. Many people aren’t comfortable with clear objectives and tend to put too much pressure on themselves.

By following the guidelines in this article including overcoming fear, leveraging your transferable skills, setting activity targets, and committing to ongoing learning, you will crush those targets. Believe in yourself and work hard!

How much money can I make?

Honestly, in sales, the sky’s the limit. Most entry-level jobs start with modest pay, but with good incentives, you can make it up with your performance. Higher performing sales representatives with some experience can make $100k+, with superstar performers making $500k, a million, or even more!

Illustration of a sack with a $ sign on it, implying that the bag is filled with money.

If the idea of a fixed salary and a lifetime of budgeting turns you off, get a sales job now and commit to becoming a high performing professional!

Are straight commission jobs a scam?

Heck no! Straight commission jobs may seem dodgy because we are used to being paid by the hour. However, these jobs tend to have a bigger commission upside, designed to reward high achievers and protect employers from wasting money on low performers.

If you want some real motivation, consider a commission-only sales job and then hustle to get those big rewards!


By using these strategies about how to get into sales, and gaining some initial experience, you can start your sales career with confidence.

Regardless of role, bring your competitiveness and find ways to stay motivated and committed regardless of your early outcomes.

Always seek opportunities for growth and improvement and keep fighting. In time, your skills will flourish and you will be thanking yourself for going down this fun, challenging, and lucrative path.

Now, go get yourself a sales job!

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