Out-of-work salespeople looking for a new career or those who want a new job in the sales arena may want to consider a creative way to gain valuable experience and perhaps create their own paths to successful careers in sales: volunteering.
First identify local companies where you would like to work. Ask their sales managers if you can shadow them or one of their stellar employees for a day or two. Doing so can give you a great idea of just what it’s like to work in a sales career while providing valuable contacts as well.
After you have shadowed your target company manager, ask about volunteer opportunities. You could drum up sales leads, write sales and marketing copy, or work as a team with another salesperson. Volunteering will not pay the mortgage, but it will help you gain more experience and it will show your target employer how you handle the job. When a position opens, you are far more likely to be hired over someone who is a stranger to the company.
Volunteering pays off in other ways, too. If you cannot volunteer at your target business, volunteer for a nonprofit organization such as your local chamber of commerce or visitors bureau or organizations such as United Way. They usually are looking for volunteers, and the upside is you will make vital business contacts as you become known in the organization. They may lead to more employment prospects as businesspeople see your skills at work.
You can volunteer to find donors for an organization, set up a fundraising event, or simply write sales and marketing materials to generate more interest in your chosen nonprofit. Choose a skill you want to learn more about, or one that you excel at in your sales career, and see what type of interest you can generate from the organization’s leaders.
If your local nonprofits do not have the opportunities you are looking for, there are other opportunities. What about volunteering at medical centers and hospitals, local specialty industries, public relations firms, or just about any small business? Show the benefits of having a salesperson on board and they may see enough results to hire you, and you are still gaining valuable experience you can take to other companies if a job does not pan out there. Just about any business or industry is fair game for volunteering in sales, so don’t limit yourself to just a few; target as many as it takes to get that foot in the door.
Volunteering has another great benefit for you, too. It just feels good, and it is good for you. If you are out of work, chances are you are worried, stressed, or even depressed. Volunteering is an act of kindness that can reap benefits for your own well-being. Doing something that helps others can make you feel useful, supportive, and more hopeful about the future, so it can be a mental health solution for your unemployment blues.
So even if you don’t have experience with sales and selling, you can still cash in on a lucrative sales career. Shadow a prospective employer, and then find a volunteering opportunity that can help you hone your skills. You’ll learn new skills, demonstrate your talents, and maybe find just the perfect sales job in the process.