What is Professional Sales?

In a recent blog, I addressed the common misconceptions about starting your career in sales. I’ve also written about how to connect in a sales interview here and here. In this post, I’d like to further define professional sales.

Professional Sales is essentially the process of running a business within a business. Sales professionals focus on building trusting relationships with business clients within a geographic territory, selling their company’s products and services, and growing the sales revenue to achieve territory business objectives. They spend the majority of their time in the customers’ work environment. Their goal is to understand customers’ business needs and develop product or service-based solutions to positively impact desired business goals and objectives.

This type of selling is typically referred to as business-to-business (B2B) sales. In a business-to-business sales environment, building a trusting relationship with customers is tantamount to success. Because sales professionals interact with their customers on a regular and consistent basis, a foundation of trust allows individuals to gain critical access to different aspects of the customers’ businesses in order to create solutions that allow their customers to be more effective. In most cases, for the initial starting position, a sales professional will manage a territory that already has a specific amount of existing business and customers.

In most cases, a sales professional’s compensation structure is comprised of two components: base salary (non-variable) and commission (variable). Base salary is a pre-defined amount of money that is paid to the sales professional on a routine and ongoing basis. Commission is compensation paid to a sales professional based on his/her sales performance relative to the sales plan. The sales plan is defined at the beginning of a specific time interval (typically yearly) and it is usually the minimum amount of sales that the company requires a representative to generate. The sales plan is the base line and a company plans its annual performance goals based on the overall sales plan. For the sales professional, once the sales plan is achieved, they continue to generate additional commission for all sales beyond the plan until the end of the defined sales period. High-performing individuals are drawn to this structure because it provides the security of a base salary while also allowing for the opportunity to maximize total compensation by achieving results above the designated plan.

Professional Sales is an excellent career field for high-performing individuals because they are given the opportunity to learn the intricacies of their company’s product and/or services, as well as the complexities of the customer in the marketplace. Understanding the interaction between the two gives a sales professional strong credibility within other functions and roles within the organization as they progress in their career.

For more information about sales including professional characteristics and sample job descriptions, visit our website here.

In a future post, I’ll define why JMOs make good sales professionals.

Pete Van Epps