Looking to upgrade your career?
If you’re tired of your salary being capped, or you work better when your time and effort are directly related to the amount of money you make, it’s hard not to look at a sales job and start salivating.
Switching to a career in sales is not for everyone. If you want to be more confident that it’s for you, make sure you have a full understanding of what to expect before you jump in.
Many companies will hire anyone that shows interest because they know statistically, a large number of people will throw in the towel pretty quickly.
This could be due to rejection, not seeing the conversion numbers needed to make great commission pay, or lack of overall training to be successful in this career field.
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom wanting to make extra cash as a side hustle, or you’re looking to jump ship completely and start climbing the sales career ladder, this guide will help you determine your next steps.
So What Is The Standard Sales Career Path?
Like anything new, stepping into a sales career is a learning process. Whether you were given the gift of gab or you’re more on the quiet side, you can still be successful with proper training and career development.
Below is a list of positions within a typical sales team. While all positions are working to hit their target sales goals, they do not share the same responsibilities.
And like in any other job the more responsibilities you have, the larger your position and paycheck. With that being said, the list below is in order of progression as you climb the sales ladder.
1. Sales Development Rep
A sales development rep (SDR) is the entry-level position on your team, the person responsible for cold calling and generating leads that are then passed on to the closers on the team. They have a huge responsibility in building trust with the connections they make.
While this position can be extremely tough because of the cold calling stigma, if you can push through this season of building and honing in on the craft of selling, you’re on track to have a great career in sales.
Other responsibilities include setting up meetings between the client and the sales executive in order to identify client pain points and provide better solutions to the customers they connect with.
So, what does the pay look like for this position?
On average, a Sales Development Rep in the United States brings home about $69,562 annually. But, according to ZipRecruiter, SDR positions can be all over the map. Some positions pay much less than others which typically means the position is salary plus commission and leaves room for potential bonuses.
This is why sales can be so motivating for some and daunting for others. If you are driven by commissions and bonuses, following a career path in sales will more than likely lead to a great payoff!
2. The Account Executive
The next step in the sales promotion process is the Account Executive. In many cases, this position is quite literally the face of the company. They’re responsible for closing new business with existing clients, while also moving new leads through the sales cycle.
Negotiating agreements with both new and existing clients, researching the marketplace and discovering opportunities for growth and development are key responsibilities for this position.
The Account Executive position does typically require a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field plus experience in sales. According to Glassdoor, an account executive makes an average base salary of $62,273 per year with an additional $33,815 on average for bonuses, commissions and/or profit-sharing dividends. So, the average salary for this position is about $101,088 per year.
3. Outside Sales/Inside Sales
While inside sales have become more commonplace with social media, email marketing, SMS texting and phone calls, outside sales are still widely held positions all across the world.
Outside sales positions include medical sales, pharmaceutical sales, tradeshows and market wholesaling — just to name a few.
These positions require a level of travel and facetime in order to build the client relationship and explain your product in order to close the deal.
Inside sales however have become much more relevant in today’s market. Technology has become a widely accepted form of communication, and oftentimes people prefer this form of communication over in-person contact.
Zoom, Google Meet and many other platforms have eliminated travel time, allowing salesmen to stay home or in their office and jump from call to call without missing a beat.
On average, inside sales reps make around $57,191 per year plus commissions. Outside sales representatives, (because they are typically selling a higher priced product), are around $61,676. This number can also range due to location, product cost, required education and commission structure.
4. Account Manager
An Account Manager is the client’s go-to person once the deal is closed and they have officially onboarded with the company.
These managers are responsible for maintaining long-term relationships with clients. A large part of their responsibility includes renewing contracts, as well as upselling other products and offerings.
Other job roles for this position include education on the products or services offered, assisting with the overall vision and plan for the company, and providing ROI data.
Helping the client see the value in the product or service encourages a longstanding relationship with a happy, engaged customer. Communication and transparency are key in this position.
According to Indeed, on average, an account manager makes around $68,444 plus an estimated $18,000 in commissions.
5. Regional Sales Manager
Regional Sales Managers are heavily responsible for recruiting and hiring new sales development reps and account executives within a specific region. They also manage the sales staff in an HR role by recruiting, coaching and even disciplining the employees under their regional supervision.
This position has the responsibility of analyzing data and projections, setting goals for the team and making sure that those targeted goals are achieved. Understanding the market, setting the budget and speaking on profitability and loss fall under the jurisdiction of this position in the sales world as well.
On average a regional sales manager, within the United States, typically brings in about $124,263 per year. But this can range anywhere between $107,798 to $144,379 per year.
6. Director of Sales
The Director of Sales is a key leadership position in the sales organization. Largely focused on big picture forecasting, data research and analysis as well as launching new products and services based on that research.
The Director of Sales is also responsible for recruiting and hiring new sales development reps and account executives. This position requires a strong leader that can inspire and energize the sales team to achieve goals and meet or exceed the company quota. Therefore, recruiting and coaching sales staff are also a crucial part of the Director of Sales job description.
Typically, a director of sales makes about $191,674. There are many different factors that come into play, including location and company size — so the average salary is between $167,441 and $219,690.
7. VP of Sales
Promotion to this position in the sales career ladder requires a considerable amount of experience, not only in sales but also in managing teams. This position takes the lead over the training and development of the sales team.
The VP of sales is also expected to work closely with other department heads including marketing to strategize and continue to pursue relevance in an ever-changing marketplace. Sales projection presentations, overall staff performance and operations management would also fall under the position’s territory.
While education and experience are pertinent for this position, another major requirement considered is previous experience closing. At this point in a sales career, a portfolio of closing history would be carefully considered prior to being offered a position as VP of sales.
The average pay for a VP of sales position is $301,370. The base salary is approximately $181,763 with a commission and bonus structure that averages around $119,607.
How to Shortcut Your Path to Success: The Best Sales Career You’ve Never Heard of
Well, that was a lot of information to take in!
After all of those steps and requirements to get to the top in a sales position, you may be wondering – is sales the right career for me?
So, let’s revisit why people get into sales.
Some people are just blessed right out of the womb with the “gift of gab.” As soon as they could talk, it was evident to all around — they would be great salespeople when they grew up.
If that’s you, and money is a motivator, and you still aren’t in a sales position…WHY NOT?
If it’s simply confusion on where to start, stick around and let us guide you to the sales career path you were clearly born to do.
If you were not born with an innate ability to easily build relationships with people, that’s ok too! You can be taught this skill. We actually prefer you to be green because we won’t have to worry about erasing bad sales habits.
Most people desire a position in sales because they hear about the amazing potential income through commission structures.
After reading the above job descriptions and average salaries, you may be thinking, $60,000 + commission doesn’t sound as good as you were expecting starting out. And on top of that, you have to make the dreaded cold calls that can automatically turn some away from pursuing a sales career path.
There is another way.
You can have financial freedom, more time, and flexibility…
All without dealing with cold calls and climbing the sales career ladder to hit the salary goals you desire.
This may sound too good to be true, but it’s not a gimmick.
You can literally make $10k-$30k per month selling products that you believe in to warm leads that already want to hear more.
Similar to a sales development rep, you can start out as a “setter,” meaning you set sales appointments for the ‘closers”. But, the difference is these are still warm leads. The potential clients you are setting appointments for are wanting to know more about the product or service.
Appointment setters will make a base pay and then the commission structure builds on the base. Our setters can make upwards of $7500 per month just booking the appointments for the closers. If a closer seals the deal and closes an appointment you booked, you take a percentage of the price of the product sold.
This is a great position for stay-at-home moms, people who need a side-hustle for extra cash or those that want to get their feet wet in sales and then ultimately move up to becoming a closer.
Moving up to the “closer” position can happen in as little as a few months. No further certifications, degrees, or years of experience needed. This truly is the fast-track to a great job in sales (compared to the above list).
But it is important to set expectations correctly: this is NOT a get-rich-quick sales position.
Hard work is required as well as a good amount of rejection AND persistence honing in your skills as a solid sales person.
If you have a great work ethic and your key motivation is hitting goals and making money, it’s possible to make VP level money in a year.
When you consider the seven levels described above in the typical sales career path, one year to potentially making $300,000 doesn’t sound so bad!
How to Start a Career in Sales
1. Become a great salesperson
While this may seem pretty obvious, hang with us…
…people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on a college education that for the most part will not teach you this skill.
You need to be educated on the product you are selling, care about the product you are selling and then learn how to sell said product.
Being a great sales person can come naturally to some BUT, they still have to educate themselves and learn how to become better at selling.
Because their commission depends on it.
So, reading books, practicing your pitch with friends and colleagues, and watching courses that further educate you are all key components to excelling in a sales career path.
2. Start small and build up with a company that offers growth potential
Starting small is generally the best way to begin a career in sales if you’re new to the game.
A strong sales leader is a valuable asset. Find a company that is invested in the growth of its sales team. Leaders and managers that want to see their staff succeed and are available to mentor and counsel the sales team.
With the creation of the internet and boom of inside sales, another way of starting small and building up with a company is working as a remote closer.
A Remote Closer is essentially the liaison between customer and the company you are representing. The best part – these potential clients are already aware of and to some degree educated on the product or service and are eager to learn more. You are simply helping them move across the finish line and make the purchase.
The entry-level position to a closer would be the appointment “setter”. This role is responsible for reaching out to these warm leads, asking if they would like to learn more and then scheduling appointments with the closers. Setters make a commission on completed sales as well as a base pay.
Starting as a setter allows you to get your feet wet in the sales process and then quickly move up to a closing position if so desired.
Whether you are interested in a traditional sales position or something that helps you climb the sales ladder at a faster pace, starting small with a company that offers growth potential is extremely important in order to see momentum in your career and be motivated to continue.
When your paycheck is largely commission based…you’re all about the hustle.
If you’re the type of person that is content with the 9-5 gig, and you need more structure and security…sales may not be for you.
Yes, there’s HUGE potential for 10k-50k per month commission checks and that excites most people but, if the motivation and the hustle are lacking…the commission check will be as well.
A sales position requires a driven self-starter that is motivated by goals, quotas and most of all dollar signs. This is NOT a get-rich-quick opportunity. It takes hard work, professional growth and development and a general acceptance of rejection…
…because you WILL be rejected.
The better you get at being able to zone in on a pain point and help a customer find a real solution that will help them, the better you will become at increasing your close ratio and decreasing the level of rejection you encounter.
The “hustle” is the make-or-break component for a good sales person. A new statistic states “On average, only 2% of sales are made during the first point of contact. That means if you don’t follow up, even with a simple follow-up email, you’re missing out on potentially 98% of your sales.”
4. RCA Mentorship
You might be wondering, “What is RCA?”
If the not-so-traditional sales position mentioned above that allows you to set appointments or be a closer for other companies interests you, then Remote Closing may be the best sales career path for you.
Essentially, you are skipping the career ladder and walking straight into a top producing sales position through focused education and preparation.
Remote Closing Academy (RCA) gives you all of the training and tools necessary to walk into a position confidently and begin making great commissions (as long as you’re hustling).
We provide the training and help develop your skills. You do the work and build into a sales career path that truly provides financial freedom!
Still wondering,“Is Sales the Right Career For Me?”
If you’re honest with yourself and you know you are not a self-starter or maybe money isn’t a huge motivator for you, then sales may not be the career path for you. Like we said earlier, it’s NOT a get-rich-quick scheme.
Being successful in sales takes discipline and determination.
If that’s you…then this is more than likely a great opportunity for you to make 10k, 20k or more per month. Skipping the sales career ladder and choosing to educate yourself through the Remote Closing Academy can provide financial security faster.
I’ve personally experienced the power of this stuff. I graduated from college with over $150,000 in student loan debt, struggling to make ends meet as a bartender. But what I did have was a hunger to hustle.
I started reaching out to companies that were selling high ticket services and products that were more than likely overwhelmed with leads. These companies needed a “closer” to come in and take on some of the calls so the owner of the business could focus on scaling their company.
The different companies I reached out to were relieved to have someone take over some of that responsibility and I was able to go from barely being able to afford a drink after work to making $30k per month in the first several months of being a remote closer!
Through this discovery, I created a remarkable amount of financial security and more time for my family and friends.
How do you become a Remote Closer?
I created the Remote Closing Academy course with the intention of providing simple steps to help others find the financial freedom I was able to find through remote closing.
According to Forbes, the Remote Closing industry will be a $325 billion dollar industry by 2025.
Now is the time to hop into this booming industry!
Click here to schedule a quick call with our team to learn how you can take the next step toward taking control of your time, income, and impact by becoming a remote closer.