Why choose sales as a career?

2nd July 2020 |   Ben Turner

A job in sales can give you the skills to become a future business leader.

The skills you need

Many people think that to be successful in sales you need to be able to talk. It’s true; being able to communicate well is massively important but the “gift of the gab” is not required now, and frankly, never was.

What is really important for good salespeople is to know what you are talking about, to be a good listener and to tell the truth, so other people trust you. You should be able to:

  • Understand what the other person wants.
  • Imagine what they might need.
  • Explain it to them so it makes sense to them, and they see that it is a good idea to buy.

Trust is one of the key attributes of successful selling. You need to be ethical in everything you do. This isn’t a tagline; this is how you should behave.

With trust as a solid foundation your skills should include:

  • Empathy: the ability to see the situation from your customer’s point of view, to listen, understand and respond.
  • Initiative: independent thinking and being able to plan what to do.
  • Digital know-how: you are likely to be using computer information to see patterns in the way customers behave to work out how and when to talk to them. Technology, digital networking and data analysis all play an important role in good, efficient selling.
  • Problem-solving: taking on board complex ideas from a number of sources and then creativity in finding solutions. 
  • Collaboration: increasingly, selling involves lots of different people, including colleagues, customers and business partners.
  • A learning mind: willingness to analyse and learn from mistakes, and to change behaviours. 
  • Patience, persistence, optimism: complex deals can take many months, and success is never guaranteed.

From my experience, most business owners or chief executives of large companies have worked in finance or sales. They know how to count the money or earn it, so sellers often rise through businesses to the very top.


Most salespeople I speak to don’t hide the fact that they fell into selling by accident, but are grateful they did. In the past, you didn’t choose to go into sales, but times have changed and the demands on the modern seller will make your career as rewarding as those of other professionals like doctors, engineers and surveyors. But being good at selling will take training and hard work, just like becoming a good accountant. It doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to be the best, and get your qualifications in sales, you will need to study.

In the UK, the best way for school leavers and young people in their 20s to become qualified salespeople is through an apprenticeship. You can do sales apprenticeships and qualifications straight out of school or after university, or even once you’ve started working in a sales job. 

One thing I like most about sales qualifications and apprenticeships is the chance to learn on the job while you are getting paid. It is a practical way to learn, because what you study is completely relevant to the job you are doing.

As an apprentice, you learn the skills, knowledge and behaviour that you need to do the job well. Expert salespeople are paid more; they earn more for their companies; and, like other professionals such as doctors and engineers, they keep learning through their careers to stay on top of their jobs.


Sales is a sociable profession. By sociable I don’t mean we just go partying. Being sociable is about how to meet, interact with and understand other businesspeople. As a salesperson, you need to recognise what different customers are trying to achieve, and how you can help them.

Selling can lead to a well-paid career and foreign travel; professions like financial services have good starting salaries.

As a salesperson, you will gain:

  • A sense of purpose, acquire skills, knowledge and mastery, contribute to the success of your business, and have a sense of achievement when closing a big deal.
  • The opportunity of getting qualifications or a degree through an apprenticeship.
  • The chance to experience the wider business world. You may be invited to work in other departments to build your knowledge as a salesperson or be invited to board meetings to share different points of view across the company where you will be working.
  • You will also be helping your country. For example, in the UK, selling British products and services after Brexit is a top government priority.

Career prospects

Selling happens everywhere and is a very diverse job. You can sell on a beach, or in a skyscraper, or anywhere in between. If you are good at selling, you will be in demand.

I recently looked on LinkedIn to see how many sales jobs were available in the UK at the moment. The number was 66,000, and that was during the peak of the coronavirus lockdown. Good salespeople are needed.

Selling is a portable skill and can be used anywhere in the world, with a flexibility that can be adapted to setting up your own business.

The sales profession is extremely varied, with salespeople required in all parts of the economy. It offers, through qualifications and apprenticeships, career structure and progression. You may do this with APS membership, either in a large company or as an individual, building a range of skills, experience, and qualifications.

Selling is important

No business can survive without selling, so by embarking on a career in sales and becoming a skilled, qualified and ethical professional, you are giving yourself a great chance to get a fantastic job. Skilled sellers are important because they make money to keep businesses alive and keep them growing. As a seller, that makes you a very important part of any company.

From my experience, most business owners or chief executives of large companies have worked in finance or sales. They know how to count the money or earn it, so sellers often rise through businesses to the very top.

Selling is crucial to the UK’s economic success which supports our vital services, from schools and hospitals to science, engineering and technology. Britain’s ability to sell will be even more important as we work our way out of the coronavirus crisis and build new business partnerships after Brexit.

For further information about the Association of Professional Sales, please follow this link,
call +44 (0)20 3637 4940, or email enquiries@the-aps.com.

Chief Operating Officer at Association of Professional of Sales (APS)

Ben Turner is the chief operating officer of the Association of Professional of Sales (APS).