How College Can Teach You to Become a Better Salesperson

Not every career track in college is apparent from the start. Some students have a vocation that guides them from childhood onwards. Others don’t know their perfect career until they’ve been at the controls. The good news? A college education provides fertile training ground for several rewarding fields.

In fact, we know first-hand that sales and recruiting professionals are better equipped to handle challenges if they’ve had some college experience first. The following four soft skills reflect why college graduate can become a better salesperson.

How to budget your time

College is one big juggling act. Classes, homework, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, and any sort of social life need structure and balance. To make the most of their limited time (since we can’t negotiate extra hours into the day), college students need to develop their own working structure.

Structure at a daily and weekly level is paramount to salespeople. Without structure, it can be all too easy for a salesperson to be pulled under by the riptide of opposing responsibilities. Sales calls, client management, new prospect research, and team meetings can consume more time than a 40 hour workweek has available.

For salespeople, a schedule provides a sense of urgency and meaning to every action. It helps them prioritize projects and recognize when to say no to excess responsibilities. By having practiced that first-hand, college students take to the duties of a sales career with a fluid transition.

How to tackle larger projects

Rome wasn’t built in a day and your best college projects weren’t completed in a few hours. Research, brainstorming, draft writing, and proofreading all compounded to deliver that high final grade. The sales world requires similar incremental action to realize desired sales outcomes.

Salespeople who see each deal as a distant Everest are more likely paralyzed by every objective. Plenty of intermediary steps are needed to propel each deal to completion. Clients need to be researched. Deals need to be outlined and fine-tuned. Objections need to be overcome. Each objective is manageable on its own because it’s been broken down into chunks.

The best salespeople are able to isolate each mini task while still focusing on the whole. That’s what delivers large projects to completion.

How to adjust to new subject matter

Most people can’t just casually pick up information. Knowledge takes hard work. Malcolm Gladwell famously suggested the 10,000 hour rule, that successful people take 10,000 hours to master a subject. Even in college, assuming your take 15 credit hours a semester and study the average 17 hours a week, you’ll only have achieved at most 6,656 hours in a subject. To master any career, you’ll need to be just as committed to learning.

Good salespeople are capable of giving the same level of dedication to learning new material. They read about it, talk about it, and connect that knowledge to other disciplines. The best sales people learn more than just sales principles and tactics. They become as close to subject matter experts as possible.

How to interact with different people

In college, we learn to connect. Classes and student organizations are filled with diverse people and personalities that we need to learn to interact and negotiate with successfully. And as a sales person, that’s an incredible tactic to have available.

Whether you are networking in your personal life or are connecting with candidates and clients through LinkedIn pro tips, the lessons that college students learned while stepping outside of their comfort zone can be very effective. Keeping a steady flow of new clients into your pipeline is almost a full-time job of its own.

The ability to make conversation anywhere (at the gym, a restaurant, or a community event) without appearing salesy takes finesse that college students have learned through classroom and extracurricular interaction.

Bringing it all together

College is filled with plenty of lessons that extend beyond the course material itself. The ability to budget time, overcome large projects, master new subject matter, and communicate with people all give salespeople with college experience an edge that others needed to learn on the job. And that time saved can help promising salespeople quickly rise to the top of their game.

Are you looking for a career where you can skillfully use your college experience? Apply at IDR. We offer internships to college students looking to build their experience and are always hiring college graduates.