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I have been in a variety of sales positions for well over 13 years and for the most part have enjoyed all of them. However, there is only one that I really excelled at and quickly moved into a Sales Manager position after just 9 months in my chosen industry.
In the mid-1990's, while living in the USA I was looking for a job change for what I thought would be temporary due to a couple of reasons that are really not relevant to the current review. I applied at three locations all of which involved sales and this is where the differences began to quickly stack up. A couple of the options looked really interesting while the final one, I was not sure I could handle.
Number 1 was a Sales position in the restaurant and catering industry that paid a very nice basic plus the potential of a hefty commission bonus. Downsides were plenty as I would have to cover the shifts of any of my sales staff that did not show up due to ill health, laziness, or whatever.
Number 2 was a Sales position in the furniture industry selling high quality furniture for a specialised chain of stores. This provided the chance to enter a Management programme that would allow you to progress quickly. However, as before it meant a lot of extra hours and no extra pay unless you made some sales. This one actually had the potential of earning more than £8-10,000 per year over Option 1.
Number 3 was something I had never considered anymore than the other two options but did not stop to think that people actually made a decent "living" at and most would have considered it to be quite morbid and some would even consider it to be a "dead-end" job! The pay had no basic salary and was strictly commission-based and when I showed up for the interview, it was obvious that people were "NOT dying to enter" this particular industry. Ok, enough of the humour - this sales job was working for a Cemetery/Funeral Home company! It involved the sales both before the time of need (pre-need) and at the time of death (at-need) basis of caskets, coffins, insurance policies, cemetery plots, grave or tombstones, flower arrangements, funeral arrangements, etc.
By now, if you guessed that I chose one of the first two options, then you are wrong -
Actually I took - OPTION 3!! It was actually three (3) weeks after I began that I could even get up the nerve to tell my relatives what I was doing for a living! They couldn't believe it and for awhile I also questioned whether I had made a mistake or not. I worked for a couple of companies (large corporations) who owned a number of cemeteries and/or funeral homes/parlours not just in the USA but also in various European and Asian countries (including some here in the UK). The work was not always easy and to be serious, dealing with death and the aftermath that it left became quite draining on me emotionally particularly when I had to handle the funerals and burials of children or babies of which I did too many.
Over a period of 5 years, I personally handled almost 900 individuals not including what the staff under me also accounted for. This was quite apart from the norm for the average working career in the deathcare field is about 18 months due to the stress levels.
Apart from the bad attempts at humourous jokes though by just about everybody who came to visit our establishments (normally to help try and break the ice when dealing with difficult matters), I really enjoyed my work. It allowed me to be successful in a field that most would NEVER consider and helped me to learn to have more compassion for those who suffer a loss of a family member or a friend! That is just a small part of my experience as a Sales Manager and I will now give what I saw as advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of being a Sales Manager -
1. Was able to be more flexible in my profession as to hours. If I needed to be off for a couple of hours, it was easily made up at the weekends or when having to work at night due to the nature of the business.
2. Upon becoming a Sales Manager, I actually received a basic salary and over-rides on the commissions my staff earned.
3. Greater opportunities to move higher into management with proven performance - After about 3 years, I was moved to my own location and promoted into a General Manager position.
4. Opportunity in a way to be your own boss in that you take the information or product given to you and based on your own hard work and initiative, you can take it where you want to be.
5. Does not always require a college degree, but normally just a high degree of initiative and a willingness to work hard.
Disadvantages of being a Sales Manager -
1. In the funeral industry, long hours are the norm and my workweek was often 60-70 hours. When a death occurred, it required our presence and we were expected to show up and do a professional job.
2. Greater levels of responsibility bringing on higher stress levels.
3. Once you have moved into Sales Management, if you were to try and change careers, it can prove more difficult. I found that many companies were unwilling to consider you because you had the word "Manager" on your CV. It seems that once you have crossed that magic threshold that many aspire to, you are branded for life as being over qualified for any number of positions.
In Conclusion - Would I recommend somebody to take on the role of Sales Manager or work towards that end (no matter what the field or industry maybe)? I would say YES. I enjoyed it and would probably consider a Management position again if I thought I could handle the stress levels. My health currently does not permit it. It was very rewarding and produced a nice amount of satisfaction when I could see that the training of my staff and care of my customers produced a high level of not only satisfaction but also of pay incentives.
Having looked for somewhere suitable to post this opinion I have decided that this one is as good as any - after all I am my own sales manager. I grant you I am also office junior and general dogsbody but that's where working for yourself gets you! As a lot of you will already know I worked for Walsall MBC for almost 30 years and had to leave three years ago due to ill health. I now live in Llandudno with my partner, Dave, and my parents, and I am full time carer to my dad who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. I needed a way to earn some income and contribute to the family budget, partly because we could always do with extra cash (who couldn't) and partly to retain some independence. I can't go out to work because of my caring duties so I had to look elsewhere for an opportunity to earn. I have been dabbling in various things on the Internet for some years now and earning a few pounds here and there and I had also been using Ebay, particularly when we moved house, to clear some clutter and make some cash before we moved. After much thought and discussion with my sister, who had worked in the retail trade, I decided to open an Ebay shop. My sister had been running an Ebay shop (Pagans Cave) for some time by then, selling all sorts of gothic items such as dragons, skulls, grimoires, crystals and lots more, so we knew that it was a way to earn a living. I have done a full opinion about Ebay itself so I won't go down that route with this opinion, but you must all know by now that Ebay is the biggest auction site on which to buy and sell almost anything! Once I had decided to open my shop, next I had to decide what to sell. I had some information about various wholesalers and my first step was to do some research on Ebay to see what sort of things sold well. I chose to sell clocks and watches for two main reasons. The first reason is that it is something I know a little about and
am interested in and the second is that the items themselves are relatively small and so can be stored and transported easily. I buy in bulk from my wholesaler who incidentally will also exchange any items that won't sell - what a love! Initially I bought a selection of wristwatches for all age groups, but found these to be a non-starter as regards sales. There are so many people selling 'designer' watches on Ebay for good prices I didn't stand a chance! My next selection contained pocket watches, clocks and keyrings and this is where the selling really began. The pocket watches are either plain or have a design such as a car, train, angler, or golfer etc. on the front. The clocks are in the shape of cars, musical instruments, animals, sporting equipment, etc. The keyrings are in the shape of cars, ladybirds, animals, flags and specialised things such as Hello Kitty. It has been a matter of trial and error to find out which items sell and which don't, and even now I get situations where something is selling well so I order more and the sales virtually stop! It is nice to watch how things sell and try to work out the trends so that you can then work out what's best to buy and it certainly gives you job satisfaction when you get it rght! This is my first full financial year doing this as a serious job and I have kept a full set of accounts so that I can fill in my self-assessment form for the Inland Revenue at the end of the year. Luckily I am an accountant by profession so this is the easy bit for me! I have sold just over 1,300 items so far since 1st April 2003 at an average net profit of £2.40, so it doesn't earn me a fortune, but it does help with the family finances and it suits me as I can fit the work in around the needs of my parents. My partner, Dave, has also recently built me a web site where I list the more popular items and I have had a few sales that way t
oo. If you have to stay at home for whatever reason I would certainly recommend this as a job. It's flexible so you can choose your hours to suit yourself and the earnings are roughly proportional to the amount of time invested. Obviously you will need some capital to start with to buy the stock in the first place, but choose your area of sales well and you will soon recoup your money. If you are interested to see how the whole thing looks I sell as brave_rufus on Ebay and my shop is called braemargifts. (http://www.stores.ebay.co.uk/BraemarGifts) and my web site can be found at http://www.braemargifts.plus.com/ So there you are I am my own sales manager and you could be too???