When I first graduated college I had no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up. It’s kind of funny – you spend a truckload of money on a college education and you leave only equipped to be more independent with a false sense of security on what that new life will bring. But actually I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
A neighbor of mine growing up in Santa Barbara, CA owned a staffing company and heard I was on the job market. He reached out and asked me if I wanted to go into sales. My immediate reaction was “heck no! I don’t want to sign up for rejection at every turn!” But then with little other prospects and/or direction I decided to just give it a go.
My first day on the job I walked into the crisp clean branch of Select Staffing and I sat down in a front office desk waiting to be told what to do. I sat there for 4 hours. Nothing. No instructions, no onboarding, no clue. I think the receptionist felt bad for me so she showed me to a back office and handed me a phone book and said “well, I guess you can make some calls if you are the new sales girl.” 2 months graduated and bored out of my mind I decided “what do I have to lose?” and I picked up the phone.
I was really lucky. The first business I called heard I was from a staffing agency and immediately said “your timing is perfect – we have an employee going on maternity leave and we need a temp.” The funny thing is, they made it easy on me because I couldn’t have explained to someone exactly what a temp was to save my life. I set up an appointment for the next day and then struck out on the phones for the rest of the afternoon.
You might look back on this first day treatment and think I was short-changed. I thought so too but now I realize it was the BEST thing that could have happened to introduce me to the world of sales. Nobody handed me anything – no warm leads list – no comfort zone. Only uncertainty and a phone book. But I hit the ground running and I hit it hard. And I ended up achieving Rookie of the Year my first year and making more money than I ever thought I would as a young college graduate. I also found a love of sales and a new career that would take me through the next decade and shape my future.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I got the training I needed shortly after that first day. Turns out no one knew I was starting and I probably got the dates wrong:). But the behavior I learned was to be myself, start building relationships, and just put myself out there. It wasn’t always comfortable and people weren’t always happy to see or hear from me. But a lot more often I made connections I still hold dear, and I did something really important – I built my confidence in who I was and what I had to offer the world and my company.
The morale of the story?
Make calls – be friendly – be yourself – don’t think about being rejected – just go for it.
You will find a lot more gold than dust. The risk is absolutely the reward.
And stop complaining about not getting enough warm leads to get you through the day for crying out loud. You are in sales! Make it happen – you have a job where the sky’s the limit but that means you need to own it and make it rain. It’s not as hard as you might think. People buy from people they like… and products that will help them. But mostly? From people they like.