5 Reasons A Job In Sales Might Be The Career Move You’re Looking For

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Job-seeking veterans and service members speak with a prospective employer at a job fair at Nationals Park on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.
Larry French/AP Images for National Chamber Foundation

Sales. Say this to a group of veterans and you'll get a variety of reactions from running out of the room to eager interest. The term can have a lot of different meanings depending on the role and the company. When you start learning about sales roles, you'll find that there is a wide spectrum of opportunity. In general, it’s not about convincing companies or consumers to buy your product, it’s about helping them identify problems they have and offering them solutions that you can provide. While this type of problem solving can be translated into any industry, there are five factors that unite most sales roles.


1. Sales is not for everyone.

There are certain aptitudes that you need to have in order to be successful in sales. For those about to transition here are some clues: if you've been rated number one or in the top 5% of your peer group on your annual evaluations, you are probably a competitive person who is concerned with performance. You pay attention to what you need to do in order to do well in your military role. This is a reliable indicator that you might be a fit for a sales role. If working with people and expressing ideas comes easily to you, this is also a clue. Sales requires leadership abilities, empathy, relationship management, and thoughtfulness --- you need to be able to put yourself in the customers’ shoes and quickly figure out what they need to know and what they are likely most concerned with.

2. Pay is usually a function of performance.

When considering a specific sales role, you should ask what the average person makes in terms of salary their first year and decide whether that figures works for you and your lifestyle. The best sales roles feature a livable base salary with commissions, or bonuses paid out on top of that base salary. Sales roles that incorporate commission tend to be highly competitive. For many, the idea of a variable income from month to month is a dealbreaker. For others, it's a challenge, but worth the uncertainty for the overall reward.

3. You don’t need to be an extrovert to be good at sales.

It’s a common myth that the best salespeople are extroverted, outgoing individuals, but in 2013, a new study showed this simply wasn’t true. Rather, “ambiverts” working in sales roles have proven to earn more per hour compared to extroverts and introverts. According to the Washington Post, “Ambiverts, a term coined by social scientists in the 1920s, are people who are neither extremely introverted nor extremely extroverted. …  They’re not quiet, but they’re not loud. They know how to assert themselves, but they’re not pushy.” Does this sound like you?

Check out these five Hirepurpose companies with jobs in sales accepting applications now. >>

4. There are many types of sales roles.

It's hard to go through your day without running into someone in a sales function. Telemarketers, retail, the list could go on. But what you probably don't see are the higher-level sales roles --- healthcare, manufacturing, finance, etc. --- you name the industry and these companies retain competitive, bright people to increase their sales of whatever service they provide. If it is bought and sold in America, someone is selling it. And many of these folks are achieving income levels that are really hard to come by without very difficult to attain technical skills otherwise.

5. You may have to start entry level, but it can be worth it if you work hard.

Most successful high-level sales people started somewhere lower, making less money. When you look at medical device sales --- arguably the top rung for the transitioning veteran audience --- a lot of these people started in a more entry-level role and worked their way up after establishing a track record of success. Now they are working in operating theaters as a subject matter expert on a device that surgeons are using to improve someone's quality of life.

Arizona Army National Guard soldiers with the 160th and 159th Financial Management Support Detachments qualify with the M249 squad automatic weapon at the Florence Military Reservation firing range on March 8, 2019. (U.S. Army/Spc. Laura Bauer)

The recruiting commercials for the Army Reserve proclaim "one weekend each month," but the real-life Army Reserve might as well say "hold my beer."

That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.

When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.

"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.

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According to an internal Army document, soldiers feel that the service's overwhelming focus on readiness is wearing down the force, and leading some unit leaders to fudge the truth on their unit's readiness.

"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."

Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."

Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."

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If you've paid even the slightest bit of attention in the last few years, you know that the Pentagon has been zeroing in on the threat that China and Russia pose, and the future battles it anticipates.

The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.

But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.

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As the saying goes, you recruit the soldier, but you retain the family.

And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.

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The Marine Corps Exchange at Quantico (Photo: Valerie OBerry)

If you're a veteran with a VA service-connected disability rating, a former prisoner of war, or a Purple Heart recipient, the exchange, recreation facilities, and commissary on base will be opening their doors to you starting in 2020.

In what's being billed as the largest expansion of new shoppers in the military commissary system in 65 years, veterans will be allowed back into many of the same retail outlets they had access to while in uniform starting on Jan. 1, 2020, thanks to a measure put in to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

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