A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Uncomfortable with Selling
Dear Sue: Over the past year I’ve been selling ad space for a
major magazine. It’s been a little over a year and I still am not
comfortable with the sales process. I’m constantly stressed out over
making phone calls, the in-person meetings and the demands of the
publishers. I feel at times as if I’m forcing myself into this career
because the monetary benefits are so great.
I’m not sure how to combine the skills I’ve gained from this career with
the other skills I gained through my previous experiences which include
retail sales. Do you have any advice for me?
–Not a sales person
Sue Says: I acknowledge you and congratulate you for sticking
with this position for at least a year. You say it hasn’t been easy, but
you’ve stuck it out long enough to at least have enough information to
make a decision as to whether you will leave or stay. It takes time to
build relationships and accounts and create a successful sales business.
Let me assure you that few people are “natural” sales people. Some of
the most successful salespeople will tell that they, too, dislike making
cold calls and other aspects of their jobs. But they do it anyway.
Do not discount the experience you have gained, no matter how
uncomfortable it has been. You have gained much more than you realize.
With your experience in retail sales and now outside sales, you have
some solid sales experience. I’m not convinced you should leave sales
altogether; you have special qualities to have done what you have this
past year, despite the discomfort you’ve felt. Perhaps you are a good
fit for sales, but may be more comfortable selling a different product
with fewer demands placed upon you.
Only you can determine what you want to be doing and what is most
important to you. While you say you still are not comfortable with the
sales process, is comfort what you are seeking? I know of many people
who are “comfortable” who are also unchallenged and bored.
I’ve experienced quite a bit of discomfort over the course of my
career. In fact, I’ve been uncomfortable at the start of every new
project I’ve taken on. If I had only pursued things within my comfort
zone I wouldn’t be writing to you or writing this column, and I would
never have attempted many of the things I’ve pushed myself to do in
order to reach my dreams and goals.
If you are managing to do well in sales in spite of your “feelings”
then perhaps over time as you continue to experience more success you
will “feel” better. If you are certain you want to make a move then you
should. Just be sure to take with you all of the positive things you
have gained from your experience.
Give yourself credit for doing (if only for a year) things that most
people are too afraid and too uncomfortable to ever try. That in itself
says a lot about you and your potential. Good luck. Let me know what you
decide to do.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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