Do I have to be a “born salesman” to work in sales? Persuade customers and have dollar signs in my eyes? “A little bit of that can’t hurt,” says recruiting professional Andy Gugenheimer. “But what counts a lot more is enthusiasm for the product and the sport!” That is why even more reserved contemporaries can make careers very quickly with and beyond sales in sports companies. We reveal how it works.
Yes: The development of new and trendy sports products in incredibly important. Just as much so is marketing using the sponsorship of sports stars. Ultimately, the companies in the sports business that achieve their turnovers are the ones that finance the entire organization via one department: sales.
For the outside observer, it often has the image of door-to-door and used car salesmen. Completely incorrect! This demands strategists, relationship-makers, employees with heart and mind. And outgoing people with power of persuasion, of course. But not just that.
“For a job in sales, it’s best of all if you stand fully behind a brand or sport and are enthusiastic about it,” says Andy Gugenheimer, head of sportyjob.com and cooperation partner of the ISPO JOB MARKET. Then it’s just one small step further to convince others, too. And working with fervor for economic success in sales – even in the “background.”
That's because important functions such as planning sales strategies, observing the market and competitors, especially in pricing, and directing sales teams on site are located behind the scenes. However, they require just as much blood, sweat, and tears as presenting new collections directly to the customer.
Staffing expert Andy Gugenheimer: “Next to enthusiasm, knowledge of the markets on site – that is, sports shops and outlets – is extremely important for empathizing with both the sales staff’s jobs and the needs of the buyers.”
For example, those who get started as a sales representative will get to know many shops, present goods there, and talk with shop managers and sales staff. Plus, they’ll also slip into the role of a shop salesperson to show them how the goods can be made palatable to end customers. This often also includes training sessions on site in the stores, where the representative precisely explains the advantages of products and brands to sales staff, so that they can better advise the customers.
However, these kinds of on-site experiences can and should naturally also be gained by sales trainees who are more prepared for management tasks without direct customer contact. The same goes for prospective inside salespeople completing internships on the sales front. “Just to know how retail and the customers tick,” emphasizes Andy Gugenheimer.
What applies for all variants: in the sports industry, even selling is really cool! Unlike with snorkers, plugging, or ink cartridges, it’s not just about prices and discounts. “You’re on a first-name basis immediately, you talk about trends and brands, it’s an entirely different approach,” knows Andy Gugenheimer, who has already occupied all kinds of sales positions and himself started his career in sporting goods sales.
“You’re on your toes quickly and a partnership-like relationship arises.” After the first inhibition threshold, the more casual interaction with the customers helps provide an entirely new view of the sales job. Many people get their first taste for it then.
True, there are also certain “turbos” for this purpose. Those who work for big, strong brands and have to win over wholesalers or retailers on site in their sales have it easier. Just as much so if the brands and their products are still young and hip, and thus have lots of potential. A tip, therefore, from Andy Gugenheimer: “Take a very good look into who you want to work for.
You can charge easy, open doors for the big and the hip guys without having to sell from door to door. For these, there are usually also intact sales organization that “just” need to be maintained and expanded. According to Gugenheimer, only those who by contrast are absolute sales talents should get involved in the less promising firms and brands – but they often entice with higher salaries and, when successful, plush kickbacks.
Income and career are, in any case, very strong factors in the sales business. Hardly any other division in companies is paid as much as Sales – provided that the employee has drawn up the right success strategies and motivated and directed field sales so that revenue booms. Or, racked up a constantly climbing volume of orders as a field sales representative.
“That is why sales is the absolute springboard. Those who get started successfully here can become product managers, marketing heads, everything all the way up to CEO,” knows Andy Gugenheimer. A corporate track is also open to successful salespeople.
Outside of permanent positions, some sales talents also become self-employed as sales agents on a commission basis for multiple brands, and expand their network nationally and internationally with their own employees.
Gugenheimer: “The bottom line is that a really successful sales agent will sometimes earn more than the CEO of a mid-sized company!”
So: Absolutely take a closer look at jobs like “Account Manager,” “Manager of Retail Operations,” “Sales Assistant,” or “Sales Representative” in the ISPO JOB MARKET! A business administration degree is usually a prerequisite. However, it can often be training in retail or in the commercial sector, as well.
Lateral entrants are always welcome in sales, too – but, naturally with an especially high level of enthusiasm for sport and brand, as well as no shyness about customer contact. Gugenheimer: “You can learn so much for your profession and your life in sales. It’s always worth considering for any sports enthusiast!”