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One of the fastest way to earn a six-figure income straight out of college is by taking a job as a sales agent. A sales agent job isn’t easy. It requires a thick skin, an optimistic outlook, tenacity, patience and a competitive attitude. It is one of the few jobs where you can earn a six-figure salary without even having a high school diploma.
Getting a Sales Agent Job
Getting your first sales agent job isn’t all that difficult. There are many entry-level sales jobs out there that require no experience. Companies will provide you with training and will often provide you with a small salary until you start generating enough sales to support yourself on a commission-only basis. Getting your first sales agent job mostly depends on how you present yourself and how discriminating you are with what you sell. If you’re willing to sell anything in any geographic location and don’t mind commission-only pay then you’ll never lack for options. The main determinant is how you present yourself during the interview. You need to appear energetic, outgoing and professional. If you do not, then you probably won’t get the job.
Most of a sales agent’s time is spent trying to find leads, developing referral networks, and following up on leads. Leads are the lifeblood of a sales agent. Without them, no sales can be made. As a result, a sales agent will spend his day making phone calls, visiting clients, or meeting with potential clients. The more time he spends doing this, the more successful he will be.
Unless a sales agent has a freshly minted MBA degree, most will start out at the bottom of the ladder. That is not to say the bottom of the ladder is bad. But it gets much more lucrative once you get more experience. For example, at some companies a person will start out doing customer service for several months to a year before moving on to a position as an investments representative. Once there, they are responsible for developing leads for the higher-up sales people as well as handling some of the smaller accounts. A financial planner, which is the next promoted position, handles the more lucrative leads the investment rep develops. The next step up from a financial planner is an account executive. It usually takes a minimum of 10 to 15 years to get to this position and to do so you have to be very good because this position handles the largest accounts. Each account executive may handle a book of business of $500 million.
Types of Compensation
There are several different ways a sales agent can be paid. The most lucrative way is to be paid based on commission. This allows your earnings to be limited only by your efforts. You can also be paid salary only, which is rare, or a combination of salary and commission. A lot of people prefer salary plus commission because of the safety it provides. It guarantees a base level of income and allows sales agents to avoid the fluctuations in their salary that commission-only sales agents experience.
There are a wide range of salaries out there. Some pay very little and some pay very well. In the financial services sector, the top 25 percent of sales agents make over $126,290 while the top 10 percent make more than $145,600 (see References). Not every sales job pays over a $100 thousand but there are plenty of opportunities out there for good, hardworking sales agents.
Jonathan Roe enjoyed a liberal arts education at Miami University where he studied philosophy and business. He is currently working on an MBA at the Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio, while working full time as a corporate banker. Relying on his wide-ranging education, he writes for a variety of companies.