How to prepare for a career in sales or customer service

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Stock Traders Working At ComputersBy The National Association of Sales Professionals

Welcome to a career in sales or customer service. Your customer is now the general public, and while you may report to a boss, at the end of the day, the people who you really will be reporting to are your customers. Whether you are making a move to the front line of sales or customer service, shifting from working inside a company to working directly with the people buying your products and services can be challenging. Customers can be difficult — they can behave in unexpected ways and they can test even the most seasoned salesperson or customer service representative. But, for those who are willing to embrace the challenge of working in the front line of sales or customer service, rewards abound. From commissions to feeling like you’ve made a difference, working in sales or customer service can be some of the most satisfying and rewarding work around.

Here are some strategies to succeed in your new career:

Find what’s right for you
Every organization is different, and so is every worker. Know that you bring unique resources and skills to the table when you come into a job, and look for a place where your experience, resources and interests are valued. The National Association of Sales Professionals talks about culture and fit with the company being key elements in salespeople’s happiness and success. Look for a place that will help you grow and reward you for what you uniquely bring to the table.

Think like your customer
You may be used to thinking about what your boss needs and wants from you in your job. Now that you’ve moved into a career where you’re working directly with the public, take those skills of empathizing with someone else and apply them to your customers. When you speak with them, help them and sell to them, think about what they need, what they want and how you can fulfill those needs and desires. You’ll be surprised to see how much more successful you can be if you think like your customer.

Listen
Listening is undervalued. With so many people worrying about getting out their sales pitch or their company message, what your customer is really saying can get lost in the chatter. When you interact with your customer, take a moment to really take them in. Breathe. Observe. Listen. When you are aware of what your customer is not saying, but wants to say, you’ll be truly powerful and effective in your career.

Start with relationship, end with success
There’s sometimes a mistaken belief among jaded sales or customer service reps that customers are the enemy. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you get frustrated when talking with customers, you might not be in the right career — or you just might not be starting in the right place. When you interact with customers as a part of your job, think of the interaction like any other relationship you might approach. Find what’s likeable about the person, enjoy who they are, and pay attention to what matters to them. The more you know and relate to your customer, the more success you’ll have in the field of sales and customer service.

The National Association of Sales Professionals is the largest online community dedicated to Sales, Customer Service, and Social Media Marketing. NASP offers sales certification programs as well as training courses for sales, customer service and social media marketing. NASP provides its members with a content-rich social networking platform for jobs, articles, assessments, tools, knowledge sharing and networking at http://www.nasp.com  (Membership is FREE). Follow NASP on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NASPPRO and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/salesprofession.

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