Transferable Skills You Learn in Sales that Can Help You Succeed in Any Career Path

Every year, college graduates walk across the stage, proud of their accomplishment and confident in their talents and skills. Yet, some of these new degree-holders face a gap between the abilities they have and the skills employers want.

Today, companies are looking for employees with a blend of hard skills, based on knowledge you gain in school, and soft skills. Soft skills are a combination of people, analytical, and communication skills that can help you adapt and be successful in different situations.

Soft Skills Millennials Are Missing

While employers say recent graduates may have the knowledge required for the job, they lack several soft skills—and the experience needed to acquire them.

According to a survey of hiring managers and college graduates, key soft skills millennials lacked include:

  • critical thinking and problem solving
  • attention to detail
  • verbal communication skills
  • ability to work as a team

To some extent, it’s not surprising that students don’t come out of college with these skills. Experts agree—you can’t learn soft skills from a book or classroom. It takes time and long-term practice in a work environment.

Transferable Skills You Can Learn in Sales

Working in sales provides can help you develop these soft skills. Here’s how:

Critical Thinking and Problem solving
In the job market, critical thinking and problem solving is an important for any project. Implementing this skill means you can think rationally about an issue and apply your knowledge to reach a conclusion. Salespeople practice this skill everyday by listening to and analyzing the consumers’ requests and then applying knowledge and understanding to deliver solutions.

Attention to Detail
Many company leaders seek employees who are detailed-oriented. In the workplace, a strong attention to detail is synonymous with quality. When you keep an eye on the little details, it gives managers confidence that your work has a high the level of accuracy and precision, and that when you contribute to a project, your work will be done right.

In sales you perfect your attention to detail while you translate and transfer information between multiple sources. When you talk to a customer, for example, important details from that conversation have to be recorded and filed so that the customer doesn’t have to repeat those details over and over as you move through the sales process. When you prepare a contract or proposal, having an accurate document is key to showing the customer that you are reliable and that you value their business. 

Verbal Communication Skills
Communication is the forte of every relationship, and companies want employees who can effectively connect with other people. Verbal communication is key when you’re working on a team project—or managing your own team in the future.

Sales professionals spend most of their time perfecting this skill. On a daily basis, sales pros have to listen carefully to customer concerns and respond in a clear and direct manner. In an inside sales environment, all customer interactions occur over the phone, which means you can’t rely on non-verbal cues in your conversation. You have to develop a strong sensitivity for cues that hint whether the customer is happy, disappointed, in agreement, or indirectly saying ‘no.’

Ability to Work as a Team

Every career path requires working in teams. You may think that sales is an independent job, but there is a lot of teamwork involved. In sales, each person gets their own goals, but the team also gets a goal. It’s up to each individual to do their part for the team, including cheering each other on, providing feedback and support, and pitching in to help close a deal. Sales can help you learn to take and implement feedback you need to be successful and how to effectively coach others—which is essential if you see yourself in a future leadership position.

Getting Started in Sales after graduation

The most important thing to remember is that there’s still much to learn—even after graduation—and once you finish crossing that stage, you can go anywhere!

Starting your career in sales might just be the next learning opportunity you need to gain some of the critical transferable skills that all employers want and launch your career.