Sales – A Horrible Life of Cold-Calling, Rejection & Impossible Targets or The Most Rewarding Career in Northern Ireland

18 August 2017

We address the misconception that a sales role is a dead-end career that is all about cold-calling, rejections and being hammered by cruel managers who set unrealistic targets.

Let me start by telling you a little about my morning. I’m currently recruiting for a Head of Sales role for an emerging software firm here in Belfast and approached a target candidate who I thought may have been interested. In short, it’s not the right time for him to move but I was encouraged to learn that this individual is earning over £200,000 in his current role! This is particularly remarkable in light of the fact that just over 15 years ago the same individual was operating as an outbound sales advisor in a contact centre. Of course, it’s not all about the money but for someone at the early stages of their career, or for a graduate thinking about career options, it might help to grab your attention.

I interview candidates at all levels and have always had a passion for recruiting sales people. Maybe it’s because I’m in a sales role myself and I can relate to sales people, well some of them at least! One of the most frustrating things I encounter is ‘the perception of sales’ as a dead-end career that is all about cold-calling, rejection and being hammered by cruel managers who set unrealistic targets.

For some, this may not be too far from the truth but the reality is that if you find yourself in an environment like that then maybe you are with the wrong employer not necessarily in the wrong profession. The prospect of a career in sales is often hampered by a number of common myths and misconceptions.

Exposing some of the Myths around Sales:

  1. Sales success is all about Knocking as many doors or dialling as many numbers as you can.

Sales may be a numbers game but it should be focused on the right numbers.  The quality of prospects will always trump quantity and professional organisations will be focused on maximising the quality of prospect data.  It is also important to recognise that making sales calls is (usually) only one part of the role. In a sales role you can expect to be involved in business analysis, market research, contributing to proposals/bids and presentations among an array of other activities.

  1. Sales is only a career for smooth talking extroverts.

Sales requires more focus on listening than talking and extroverts are often perceived by customers as being too pushy or self-absorbed. Your values, professionalism, the capacity to learn about a product/service and having the ability to develop rapport with customers is much more important than the so-called ‘gift-of-the-gab’.

  1. Cold Calls are never welcomed.

The reality is that few people actually really enjoy being conventionally solicited over the phone. However, by researching prospects, understanding their requirements in advance of making that call and having a compelling value proposition can overcome the natural defence mechanism.  Companies are also increasingly competent in ensuring that ‘cold call’ activity is supported by targeted marketing activity ensuring that the call is warmer from the start.

  1. A career in Sales is a dead-end.

Many people I meet see sales as one dimensional. In Northern Ireland, sales is often synonymous with call centres and the wider context of sales is often missed.

The reality is that some of the most prominent business leaders in Northern Ireland come from a sales background as it is an ideal platform for developing a breadth of commercial acumen.

Unlike other careers, entry into professional business-to-business sales isn’t always prescriptive and often welcomes candidates from variety of educational backgrounds. Strong communication skills, a positive approach and an empathetic customer-focused ethos will be essential, but qualifications are not always a prerequisite, depending on the employer.

The reality is that Sales should not be overlooked as a long-term career option. It would be unwise to dismiss an opportunity that could lead you to the highest salary bracket or entry to a career ladder that often leads to C-Level positions.

MCS Group recruits sales professionals from entry level to senior director appointments. If you are interested in discussing your career options or you are looking to recruit sales professionals for your organisation please contact a member of our team on 028 9023 5456 or email


Add comment