A job in sales can be a way to generate income. Most sales associates are paid with a portion of the item’s price, known as a “commission”, or a low hourly wage plus a commission. There are many different types of sales techniques, not just the stereotypical high-pressure type.
Of course, a broad knowledge of sales techniques is useful. I’ve also found that individuals with backgrounds in psychology, social work, sociology, nursing, military, maintenance and the service industry do quite well at sales. Salesmanship is not all about making people buy your product, it’s also about making that process as easy as possible for customers.
Certain purchases are inevitable in life: if a customer needs a washing machine, it’s a given that he or she will purchase a washing machine. Personally, I’m more comfortable with a salesperson who works within my limits as opposed to a salesperson who pressures me to upgrade.
Other products sell themselves: If a woman walks into a jewelry store, she’s already interested in buying jewelry. She would not have entered the store otherwise. As a sales associate, you want to cultivate those customers who are “just browsing”, which are referred to “Be-backs”. Individuals with a background in the service industry or social sciences understand how to quickly build relationships. If you, as a salesperson, can answer a customer’s questions or alleviate any anxiety, that customer will return to you when they decide to purchase.
Some low-pressure sales environments to consider:
Pawn Shop: Pawn shops offer loans with valuables as collateral. If the loan is not repaid, the shop is free to sell the item. Pawn shops also sell items that they have purchased from individuals. These are usually items of high value such as firearms, jewelry, and electronics, and a sales associate needs to have a broad knowledge base in these areas, such as the current price of precious metals or the particular functions of different firearms. They often find themselves dealing with old silver coins and bars from customers looking for cash. By working in a pawn shop, you’ll be able to sharpen your people skills, learn about the different legal requirements for specific items, and work in an extremely entertaining environment.
Jewelry store: Jewelry stores usually sell both fine jewelry and fashion jewelry. Fine jewelry is set in platinum, gold or silver, and usually contains precious or semi-precious stones. Fashion jewelry is usually made of surgical steel, plastic or base metal. Commissions on jewelry sales are usually inversely proportional to the sales price. (The higher the price, the lower the commission). For example, the commission on a diamond sale is about 2%, while the commission on fashion jewelry may be as high as 7%. Independently owned jewelry stores are also able to function as a specialized pawn shop. They will often accept gold and silver as payment, and always have the latest “spot” prices. “Spot” refers to the current price of precious metals, which is always changing.
Numismatic Dealers: This is a highly specialized area, but one in which products tend to sell themselves. Numismatists buy, sell and trade coins which have monetary, historic and sentimental value. Basically, customers enter a coin shop because they have a specific item that they want to acquire. Sometimes individuals will want to sell their collection for spot value, or put their collection toward a major purchase, which means a major commission for you.