Skills that translate into a successful sales career

Chris Algiere
April 25, 2017

If you’re looking for your first entry-level job, you’re probably evaluating at least one sales position such as an SDR or a BDR. If you decide to go the sales route, I 100% guarantee that you will be asked some form of these questions:

  • “Why are you interested in sales?”
  • “Do you have any sales experience?”
  • “How are you going to be successful in a sales role at our company?”

You might say to yourself. “I don’t have a lot of experience, and I don’t know how I will be successful because I’ve never done this before.” Wrong. You likely do, you just have to make the connection between your life experiences and a sales career.

Nearly everyone has sales experience in their past or at least has some skills that sales professionals use.

Here are some activities you may have done that translate well into sales positions. If you enjoyed your time doing any of these activities, you’ll likely find enjoyment and success in a sales career!


Convincing people to donate money to a cause takes persistence, persuasion and fantastic communication skills. Did you fundraise through the phone or go door-to-door? Talk about the persistence and initiative it took to hit the fundraising goal, talk about the experience you have on the phone. Talk about the rejection you faced and overcame, and most importantly talk about the success you had and how you approached it. Those are some of the top skills that hiring managers look for in a sales candidate.

Giving presentations

Remember all of those presentations you gave in school? Well now is the time to talk about your successful ones. Sales positions require people that have great presentation skills to show how a product can help a potential customer. These days most presentations - or product demos - are done over the computer. So you need to be able to speak impeccably while presenting over the screen.

In an entry-level role, you likely won’t be giving any product demos. So when you’re in an interview, focus your talking points on how you took a complicated idea or topic and make it easy to understand for your audience.

Solicited a local businesses to participate in events

Have you ever walked into a random business and asked for support for a school event or some other cause? Well that means you have no fear of rejection, which is HUGE for sales roles. More importantly, think about how you got a busy business owner’s attention. How did you show this person value or gain their interest without wasting their time?

Restaurant server

Remember all of those menu items and drink concoctions you memorized at your restaurant job? And then how you presented them to a customer based on what they were looking for? Well that takes some serious skill to memorize all of those dishes and drink details while doing a million other different things at once.

Time management skills that are used as a server are required in an inside sales role. You’ll likely have to manage when you prospect, when you send emails, when you call, and then analyze what’s working and what’s not.

Think about this: how often did you walk up to a table and say “You need to order this item”? Probably never. Well you wouldn’t want to do that in sales either. Sales has become much more consultative and has moved away from being pushy. You can read more about how sales has changed on our blog.

Analyzing data

Are you a fantasy sports whiz? Have you analyzed data to figure out which players are the best to start at their position that week? Being able to see all the numbers and pick out the details is important when you’re analyzing your performance or the performance of your emails and calls.

Data analysis helps with prospecting too. If you’re putting in the effort to reach out to people, don’t you want to make sure they’re the right people to reach? The ability to analyze company size, funding, and growth metrics will help you be more efficient with your targeting.

This is also important if you’ve ever held a finance role. Sales has become a blend of science and art. Now more than ever, sales reps will constantly be looking at numbers like the amount of emails and calls sent,  open rates, and opportunities booked. Being able to draw conclusions from those numbers is where your worth can increase exponentially.

Coaching or teaching a class

You may not think that teaching translates to sales, but having a consultative approach is extremely important in sales! You have to adjust your coaching and teaching to every individual you speak with as they will likely have different levels of knowledge in their field.

Think of ways that you’ve explained complex subjects to different individuals. If you coached a team, think of the ways you got the players to individually buy in to your methods and the success they had as a result of your coaching.

There are more

These are just a few common experiences people have that translate well into a successful sales career. So don’t think that just because you’ve never sold a SaaS B2B product, that you’re incapable. Evaluate your other life experiences and think of how they translate into a consultative selling approach, then get ready to talk about them in an interview. You’ve got much more to offer than you might think.

If you think of any other experiences or skills that translate into sales, please comment below and help each other out!

Read More: How to Kickstart your Career in Business