‘It’s like trying to fill a leaky bucket with water.” This was the graphic way a sales director described his job when asked to do so. Simplistic though it might be, many senior executives will readily understand why this particular analogy was used.

In striking contrast to most positions in business, sales provide an opportunity for those who want to operate with a good degree of autonomy and independence. It is the only profession where individuals are judged according to top line and bottom line generated. And for those willing to sacrifice the security of consistent salary, this industry can be extremely lucrative.

For fast trackers who are looking to make more money than their peers, seeking increased responsibility and too impatient to move slowly up the corporate ladder, there is only one option— sales.

But as inviting as all this sounds it enhanced financial rewards, high visibility, opportunity to advance at own pace and independence. This is not for everyone.

It takes a special kind of person to succeed in sales. They have a different way of looking at the world. They sense opportunities where others fear rejection, where others see obstacles, they see challenges.

They grow in their positions and are constantly seeking new opportunities. If the existing companies provide fair enough, otherwise other companies are eagerly looking for talent and grab them. This is the reason why attrition rate is highest in sales compared to other disciplines in any industry.

According to a recent study by Heidrick and Struggles, most of today’s top executives have come up through sales and/or marketing ranks. But what attracts successful people to sales? What do they have that others do not? What, ultimately, does it take to succeed in sales? The question that seems to keep sales manager constantly on edge — Why do some people excel, while others who work just as hard, fall short of meeting goals?

As economy shifts into high gear, what it takes to succeed has become little more complex. One thing is certain, perhaps more than ever before, there is a growing need for human touch. As technology opens new doors, overwhelmed customers find themselves looking for someone to guide them through the labyrinth of possibilities they face.

Many products/ services are difficult to distinguish from competition, so it depends upon trust. That is because things being sold in today’s economy are not really products or services. What the best salespeople truly sell are solutions, which meet exactly particular needs of each client. Endeavour of any company is to make reasonable profit which is the life blood and also growth in the competitive business environment.

In the recent past, customers were hapless with little choice, had to accept and bear dictates of the manufacturers and so long the bottom line did not shrivel, owners appeared propitious with pleasure.

Manufacturers started realising JOE Girad who said “Sales begins after sale”. This can be further elucidated in the words of Nibha Gaba “A sale today has to be viewed as the beginning, rather than the end of a company’s interaction with the customers. It is also the best opportunity to know its customers closely, knowledge that will help redesign its products in a better way”.

Mouth of words plays a vital role in influencing purchase decision more powerful than high powered advertisements / or any other promotion tools. With rapid urbanisation and economic development — life style, fashion and demand are undergoing change, moreover with satellite exposure, new product information in the globe is having access and sooner or later, it has to reach market. Salespeople have to inform the higher ups about competitors’ activities, new product development and customers’ feedback. Since they are in direct touch with dealers, their reports are authentic and most valuable to any company. While making yearly evaluation and promotion, feedback of the market and intelligence form a part of assessment.

Sales jobs frequently require travelling as out of sight is out of mind. These mental stresses coupled with physical demands of long hours combine to require a degree of mental toughness and physical stamina rarely demanded in other types of jobs. They have to plan systematically and get them acquainted with different aspects related to the jobs. The planning system helps them to develop their own specific strategies and tactics to reach their goals. It is also said that customers never purchase the product but they purchase benefit. Sales people will have to articulate their presentation to convince the benefits to be accrued to the customers. Many so called luxury items have been procured by customers as necessity by successful presentation.

There is an effective training programme in most of the structured companies at various levels on a continuous basis which tries to take care of complexities of business, harnessing the talent and preparing the next line of defense. They should visualise that performance leads to success, success leads to results, results lead to power, and power leads to control. This explains why most of the captains of industry are having sales background.

The writer has an MBA and a Phd degree, and is a visiting faculty in various management institutes