What Every College Student Should Know About Sales

by Rachel Conway


College students spend most of their time studying, trying to make their grades and developing their education plans into something coherent enough to create a useful degree; one of the things that rarely hits most student’s minds is the whole nebulous concept of “sales”. For most students, it just doesn’t register as something important to ponder, much less learn and adapt.

This is a mistake, and like it or not, sales is going to be a major part of your near term future as a student. You just might not have realized it yet.

In fact, as a college student’s, one of the most vital skills you’ll have to lean on in your efforts to transfer that degree into a lucrative career is a consummate ability to sell yourself, your education and your skills to numerous other people who stand along your career path. Even if you’re involved in a study program with a very high rate of post-education hiring, selling skills can’t possibly harm your efforts.

The vital need for sales as a skill doesn’t just begin or end with the job search. Selling is a general skill that will not only give you a much higher estimation of value in the eyes of potential employers –especially in business related fields-- , but will also be useful both during and after your college years. In essence, you never know when you’ll need to seriously promote something of your own to the world, and by knowing how to sell; you’ll at least be equipped to do just this in case the need ever arises.

That said, let’s go over some key sales tips and skills you should learn as a minimum.

Never Stop Educating Yourself

Before we get down to some specifics, we need to mention this vitally important habit that’s easy to forego. Learning some sales skills is great, especially advanced knowledge in outsourced sales, but keeping those abilities honed and fleshed out is a bit different. To make sure you can do it, get yourself into a habit of actually learning any new thing you can about selling and self-promotion.

This doesn’t need to have anything to do with starting a business, even if you have no plans like that, selling yourself, your projects and your usefulness to others is crucial, and by keeping yourself educated on how to sell, you’ll develop a knack for that sort of self-promotion.

Thus, read some classic sales books, take free courses on the subject if possible and if you have the time, try things that let you develop what you learn in practical terms.

Some titles you’ll learn a lot from: “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie, an absolute classic on person to person relations, selling yourself and personal ideas to others in essence.

“The Little Red Book of Selling” by Jeffrey Gitomer. This excellent and practical little book covers 12.5 (yes that’s right) essential sales tips for all situations, highly recommended by numerous “tops sales book” lists and professional sellers.

1. Selling Outside your Comfort Zone

This is one of the most important and difficult sales skills to develop. As its very name suggests, just learning to apply it can be really, well, uncomfortable. And that’s just the point! Real advancement in life often comes only when we leave the bubbles of familiarity that surround is constantly, and this applies to sales just as much as it does to anything.

By learning to sell your important projects and ideas outside your comfort zone of known teachers, mentors and friends or family, you’ll be preparing yourself for the very real world experience of having to pitch crucially important plans to complete strangers with no emotional interest in supporting you or agreeing with your ideas. Do this effectively and you’ll leanr to sell based on pure skill instead of emotional attachment.

2. Learn to Put Yourself in Another’s Shoes

In the Godfather movies, one of Don Corleone’s greatest skills at people management was his reputed ability to put himself completely into their shoes and thus effectively guess what they most wanted, sometimes even before they themselves knew it.

Now while you’re no mafia godfather who automatically commands respect from all around you, you can build something like this by really learning to understand what the people you interact with are feeling; what they want and what they don’t agree with and why.

When trying to sell, strip away your personal emotional hang-ups, self-concentrated perspectives and personal experience based point of view; instead, step into the other persons shoes and try to realistically imagine what their priorities and points of view would be.

3. Master the Art of Developing Elevator Pitches

What’s an elevator pitch? Well, in many situations, you’re not going to be given a long time to present your ideas. Sometimes, those selling opportunities are going to arrive on the fly and unexpectedly and have to be taken advantage of very quickly. This is what the elevator pitch is all about: it’s the tactic of creating a selling offer that can be explained in all its power within the time it takes you to travel in an average elevator –maybe 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Master this, and not only will you save time all around, but you’ll also impress those you sell to with how concise and to the point you can be. Furthermore, in addition to being a great way of showcasing confidence (a well-practiced elevator pitch will come naturally from your mouth) learning to make a rapid-fire sales attempt will also let you focus your ideas to a narrow point.

4. Show and Offer Value

If you learn to sell yourself effectively, avoid the common mistake of turning into a stereotypical sleazy used car salesman (though most care salesmen really don’t deserve this label anyhow). You should be working to cement long term relationships or at least goodwill with any sale you’re trying to push forward and thus whatever you pitch, it should have real value to your target. In essence, you shouldn’t be trying to fool anybody, simply find a way of convincingly demonstrating to them the value that you really have to offer.

By viewing and applying any selling effort you make, be it to future employers or anyone else, in this way, you much more clearly know your exact job and the entire process of selling will become a simpler, less nerve-wracking job. In essence, view yourself as someone who’s trying to do the others a favor, and simply trying to make them understand its real value.

About the author

Stephan Jukic is a freelance writer who generally covers a variety of subjects relating to the latest changes in white hat SEO, marketing, marketing tech and brand promotion. He also loves to read and write about subjects as varied as the idea of a location free business, portable business management and anything to do with advertising and strategic marketing tricks. When not busy writing or consulting on marketing and digital optimization, he spends his days enjoying life’s adventures either in Canada or Mexico, where he spends part of the year. Connect with Stephan on LinkedIn.

Photo Credit

This post was written by Rachel Conway

Rachel Conway is a staff editor at CCTS. She transferred from community college to Cornell University and enjoys helping students with this community college guide.

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