The World’s Best Profession
I have a strong opinion on what I believe to be the world’s best profession, but before I share that with you, I have to tell you a funny story about something I uncovered while doing my research to back up my claims.
I did a some searching on Google to try to find some reputable sources on the world’s best profession. I was hoping to find an article in the New York Times or maybe Fortune Magazine, but I came across a website that had a discussion about this topic and asked readers to vote.
As you can imagine, the list included jobs like surgeons, teachers, film makers, and firemen. But the world’s greatest profession according to the people…. Ninjas. I would have never guessed!
Sure being a ninja sounds really neat, but you work long hours, it’s high risk, and you don’t really get to work with a lot of friendly people. It must pay really well.
Anyway, I had to laugh and share that with you.
In all seriousness, I believe that the best profession in the world is sales. Many people will argue with me, and I can think of plenty of reasons myself to argue with this claim. I remember starting out my career in college doing door-to-door sales, being yelled at for ignoring “no solicitation” signs at attorneys offices, walking through Chicago in the freezing cold just to make a buck, and having an angry boss that just created an incredibly stressful environment. I thought I was going to lose all my hair by the time I turned 23 years old.
One day a friend was in town for an interview and had a couple hours to kill after his meeting, so I met him for lunch and he joined me while I hit the streets to cold call. He couldn’t believe that someone with a college degree would choose this career path, and he had to see for himself what it was like. Needless to say, he was done following me after a couple calls and told me I was crazy.
Here’s what he didn’t know that I knew… most people cannot hack it in sales, even though it presents what in my opinion is the best opportunities that a job can offer. If you can whether what I considered to be “sales boot-camp,” life gets a heck of a lot better.
About a year later, I was the most senior sales person in the office, which doesn’t go to say much about the company. However, I had a track record in a job that most people fail at, and recruiters were clamoring to get me to take another job. I was very selective about my next move, and it was a smart one.
If you read the 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, that was me. I worked from home, figured out a way to automate my business and prove my success, and lived a pretty good life. I never did figure out how to avoid the occasional sales meetings and conference calls, but things were good. Some weeks I worked really hard to make sure I hit my goals, but most of the time I was busy with my own entrepreneurial ventures.
The funny thing was those same friends that wondered why I ever ended up in sales wanted me to help them get enter the world’s best profession.
Ending up in sales was an easy decision for me once I realized what sales really was. When I first was introduced to the sales profession, my initial thought was a used car guy or retailer that talked a lot. That is sales, but it’s entirely different than business-to-business sales – though I believe that any kind of sales experience can give you some incredibly valuable skills.
But sales is nothing more than uncovering people’s needs by listening, and delivering a solution based upon those needs. Once you earn their business and exceed their expectations, you have opportunities to ask who else would benefit from your service as a consultant.
That’s sales in a nutshell, but there are typically a number of other skills and duties a sales person is involved with, including:
- Analyzing and creating business plans to identify opportunities to bring in more revenue
- Working with or developing/implementing a marketing plan
- Building relationships and mastering the art of communication
- Reporting to senior management about the health of “their business”
- Handling objections and understanding needs based questions
- Understanding profit margins and other finances
There are more, but the point is the sales job is one of the only jobs that allows you to see all parts of the business. By being in sales, you can often be promoted to a number of other departments in your company. More importantly, it gives you the experience and the skills necessary to run your own business.
That’s why many corporate executives and the world’s wealthiest people have sales experience. It is a skill that you need to succeed in any business and in life in general.
Beyond that, there are some really great benefits to being in what I consider the world’s greatest profession.
- Job Security: When the outlook is bad, companies need their sales people to keep the profits coming in. When things are great, companies invest in growing their sales force, which leads to promotional opportunities as well.
- High Income Potential: One of the things I love the most about sales is you determine your paycheck. The job is a lot more interesting when you can make more money the smarter you work. It allows for creativity and huge bonus checks.
- Great Benefits: I never left the country until my sales job earned me a spot in our President’s Club meeting in Rome. I’ve traveled all over the world with an expense account.
- Spend Other People’s Money: I’ve entertained clients at world class restaurants and done some crazy thing that would probably not be approved of these days. I’ve had nice cars and stayed at 5 star hotels, but none of it at my expense.
- Work Your Own Hours and Pace: Typically getting ramped up in sales takes time and hard work. You have to develop some solid relationships with people, which does not happen overnight. But once you establish yourself, the job can be pretty relaxing.
I could go on, but to be honest, none of that really interested me. I come from a very humble background and it takes very little to please me. For me, the reason I got into sales was to learn how to become a business owner. I did, however, enjoyed the flexible schedule, but mostly because it allowed me to build my business while being paid a salary.
So for those considering a career change or thinking about their future, I highly recommend considering sales. It takes a special kind of commitment, drive and determination to make it, but if you can find the right motivators, you can succeed.
My friends initially laughed if I told them it was the world’s best profession, but it didn’t take them long to understand why.