“Getting a Good Job in America” Part 8 – Making the most of entry-level sales jobs

This is a notable post from several years ago that appeared on Reddit:

Some thoughts on how to make real money when young and uneducated

There are several valuable perspectives contained in here, but the sales theme is especially interesting.

Let’s start at the beginning, with the authors setup:

“I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic, driven by the common sentiment I see a lot from people my age about the job market for young, uneducated, inexperienced, and often underqualified folks, and I wanted to throw together some thoughts based on my experiences and those of my friends. I really do believe that there is a formula for making great money under these conditions, and it doesn’t involve, like, starting a company, working in Multi-Level-Marketing, or blogging for a living. I’m going to use specific examples, citing specific dollar amounts and experiences…. None of us have a degree, none of us did well in high school (3 have GEDs), and all of us came from poor families. Additionally, no one has any highly rare, marketable skills; or at least we didn’t to begin with. We’re all between 24-29, and we will all end this year over 120k.”

When it comes to sales, here is what the author has to say. First he describes two friends that he names as Dan and Carl:

“There are some jobs that this isn’t necessary for, as they’ll hire pretty much anyone. These industries (often sales driven), usually have incredibly cut-throat entry level positions, and that’s how our other two examples got started (we’ll call them Dan and Carl). Dan started selling gym memberships, and Carl worked in a call-center environment for a third-party purchasing company. Both paid minimum wage with some okay incentives for reaching certain goals. Both had very high turnover and were pretty intense. Both of them also got those roles around 18-19.”

According to the author, the key next step is to excel in terms of metrics. Therefore:

“The beauty of sales is that the skills are universal. Sales managers don’t care what you sold as long as you sold it well. Dan worked for a nationwide gym that published sales leaders every month. In the 3 years he worked there, among thousands of salesmen on the list, he was top 10 every month except for the first one. He also worked close to 80 hour weeks. Carl wasn’t so blatantly successful, but he was sure to have clear communication about expectations from his managers and hit the important metrics, which was net margin in his case. So he had sales people around him selling way more in terms of gross revenue, but cutting deals too much, so he focused on keeping his margins solid and management loved him for it.”

Then there is the payoff, after proving yourself in the entry-level roles:

“Dan brought his 3 years of proof of dominating in gym membership sales to the sales job of his choice; he sells windows, roofs and gutters, usually runs 1-2 90 minute appointments per day, and rakes about 150k. He golfs a lot. He’s 27. Carl, upon not getting the appreciation for his contributions that he felt owed, made a few hops through other technical sales roles, always excelling and gaining a wealth of industry knowledge that he then leveraged to get a job selling telecom services to a high-dollar provider for enterprise customers. He’ll do about $140k this year, and far more in the future, and is 26.”

The post garnered hundreds of comments, many of them valuable in their own right. One example:

“SALES: anyone who doubts these numbers has obviously never been in a sales job. The money is there, and the sky really is the limit. Car sales is a great example with low barriers to entry and INCREDIBLY high potentials. I’ve worked with 20 year old car guys (those who are 20 and those who’ve been doing it for 20 years) who are clearing $90-150k/year with commission (Copart Auto Auction, Ford, Honda/Accord). If you’ve got sales chops, you can make however the fuck much you can sell. You can go sell door to door and make $100k if you’ve got the dedication (once again, have worked door to door, I’ve seen the W2’s. Solar and local security systems). Translate this into more specific and technical sales positions, carve out a niche, and you’re fine.

tl;dr sales- if you can sell, you can make however much you want, no education and no formal training.

In-N-Out Burger (fast food. DISCLAIMER- I know this isn’t true for the majority of fast food, but its a very real opportunity to those in CA/AZ/NV): start at $11.50 as a snot nosed kid in high school when you’re 16. Level up (literally. Its what they call their internal promotions, trained on more positions within the restaurant). Lower management within 2 years, $30-50k. Assistant manager 2-4 years ($50-80k). Store manager 4-10 ($100-250+. Yes, you can make $250k as a store manager at in n out).”

One point from this post is clear – under the right circumstances, it is possible to start in an entry level job, excel in that role, and then move up. Sales jobs are especially conducive to this because companies are happy to pay high dollars for good sales people. A good sales person is bringing money directly into the company, and bringing in money is a key activity for any company.

A Second Example

There was a post yesterday that is related:

My partner (18) and I (17) started a sales business in January and we do around $45k a month in revenue…

“Think of us as an external sales team that works for other businesses. We work purely of commission at the moment and our goal is to increase the customer and sales numbers of the businesses we work with.”

They are doing the same kind of thing, where they are turning sales into dollars and making their clients happy.

More Jobs Articles

Easy directory of all of Marshall Brain’s Jobs-related blog posts:

  1. Introduction to “Getting a Good Job in America”
  2. “Getting a Good Job in America” Part 2 – How do you gain skills?
  3. “Getting a Good Job in America” Part 3 – Newsweek weighs in with 19 jobs
  4. “Getting a Good Job in America” Part 4 – Driving a Truck
  5. “Getting a Good Job in America” Part 5 – Information Technology (IT) and Cybersecurity jobs
  6. “Getting a Good Job in America” Part 6 – Google Career Certificates
  7. “Getting a Good Job in America” Part 7 – Becoming an Engineer
  8. “Getting a Good Job in America” Part 8 – Making the most of entry-level sales jobs
  9. “Getting a Good Job in America” Part 9 – Jobs to Avoid
  10. “Getting a Good Job in America” Part 10 – Medical jobs like Nurse Practitioner

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