By now in your student career, you should have some ideas about yourself as an individual: Are you a "day person" or a "night person"? Do you prefer working as a team member, or do you prefer working alone and in complete control of your work? Do you prefer to have a known working structure given to you, or do you prefer to work independently with only vague guidelines? Do you need outward signs of success - nice clothes, flashy car, etc., do you need constant promotions to feel successful, or are you more motivated by the personal knowledge that you accomplished something without a desire to brag about it? Do you need to have lots of friends and to go out a lot,or are you the sort of person who prefers some quiet time to relax alone? In the short run, do you have a desire to travel and "see the world", or do you want or need to "stay put"?

When we get to the topic of motivation, we will be looking at how each of us is different as an individual and how that affects the sorts of careers and jobs that hold the greatest likelihood of leading to a personal feeling of success and happiness. You probably have some opinion (stereotype) about personal selling and sales as a career; a lot of people think of Herb Tarlyk from WKRP in Cincinnati as the stereotypical salesperson. Whatever image you now hold and whatever personal qualities you think are necessary for sales, you will probably leave this course with some new and different ideas. At this point, I don't expect that all of you are especially excited about sales as a career, and I won't expect that all of you will be by the end of the course. If I have done my job, however, you should all leave the course with a better understanding of sales and an appreciation for what it is that various kinds of salespeople do. Many of you will find personal selling and sales management to be very appealing once you understand what these really are.

Assignment: For now, read through some newspaper classified ads for sales positions. Clip (or photocopy) two ads:

  • 1. Which one of these would be acceptable to you (and you must qualify) when you graduate?

  • 2. To which could you aspire after ten more years of experience?

  • Tape each ad to a separate sheet of paper. Write (handwritten OK) a page or so explaining why you would be interested in each of these two positions. If you really have no desire to go into sales, do say so! Nonetheless, choose ads that would at least be "the least bad of the undesirable" and explain why these would be better than the others if you had no other choices. Don't feel that you have to impress me - be honest with yourself and with me (Ahah! One characteristic required in sales!) in your enthusiasm or lack of enthusiasm.

Note that the classified ads for sales in a typical large city newspaper will include a large proportion of some downright lousy ads! I have to say this because it is the image that is projected by most of these sorts of ads that gives many people the wrong impression about sales. Please don't get the wrong impression from these ads; there are many good sales positions out there if you know what to look for. Also keep in mind throughout the course that sales managers often prefer to hire people who have no experience in sales. For most students, you have not yet acquired any bad selling habits, you're more trainable than an experienced salesperson, and you're at an age where you're still full of energy, drive, ambition, and aspirations.

You might want to look up some unfamiliar terms as you read through these ads. Keep such terms as the following in mind throughout the course: draw, drawing account, base, advance, expense account, earnings potential, inside sales, outside sales, field sales, route sales, retail sales, account rep., manufacturer's rep., sales engineer, MLM, direct sales, direct marketing.

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