Tell anyone that you’re interested in taking a position in which income is not guaranteed, you work on your own, and you have to meet quotas to keep your job, and it’s likely they’ll warn you that you’re taking a huge risk. That’s the common perception that most people have about the “cutthroat” world of commissioned sales. The good news is, sales positions do exist that come with the fringe benefits of company support, guaranteed income, and a teamwork atmosphere. You just have to know where to look!
We spoke with Peter Leighton, senior vice president of recruiting for Combined Insurance — which employs more than 5,000 people worldwide, a majority of which is its sales force — for his top three tips on choosing a sales position that’s an easy sell.
1. Think long-term. Leighton began in a sales for Combined Insurance in 1976, and rose to the position of national sales director before taking on his current role in recruiting. “That opportunity exists for any other person coming into the business today,” he says. While most people don’t tend to remain with the same organization for 37 years like Leighton, if you treat every job as a learning experience rather than just a paycheck, you’ll nurture and grow your career.
“In sales, you learn how to work with people, how to discover the needs of people, and how to fulfill them. The education you get is worth tons going forward,” he says, adding that those skills are applicable in any industry.
2. Look for a good “value proposition.” You may have to do some digging, but there are sales positions out there in which you won’t feel like you’re all alone on an island. “Every person who comes to work at Combined Insurance comes as an employee. It’s expensive on our part, but it allows us to control the quality by having these people focus on what we do,” says Leighton. The company also provides a subsidized income during the training period, benefits, and provides customer leads every week at no cost – the latter of which is a rarity in the sales game! “There really is care and concern as to what happens with each agent, and that gets passed to the customer,” says Leighton.
3. Sell what you believe in. It’s easier to do your job as a salesperson if you are passionate about the product or service you’re pitching, says Leighton. “When our people go out there, initially they are just selling insurance. But the first time you are involved in somebody’s hardship being assisted by a product you provided, you can go to bed at night and feel good about what you’re doing,” he says.
Combined Insurance sells supplementary benefits to every level of society, and has been in business since 1919.