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  1. Blog
  2. Career Development

What Does a Sales Professional Do?

“No two salespeople are the same; we all have unique attributes that make us successful.”

Woman in suit looking at the camera
Photo courtesy of Dollar Gill

This article is part of InHerSight's What Do You Do? series. This series explores the working lives of women by job title. Readers can get a glimpse of what it's like to work as an account executive, software developer, restaurant manager, and more.

When you think of sales, you might think of sharply tailored suits and big presentations… or more grassroots gigs like selling knives door-to-door. Both of these stereotypes are true, but they’re not the only sales roles that exist. Salespeople are needed at Fortune 500 companies, at startups, at manufacturers and wholesalers, and yes, occasionally at your door because they're integral drivers of business and relationship-building.

Whether called account executives, sales reps or associates, or account managers, sales professionals as a group sell certain products or services to the businesses, agencies, organizations, or people that need them. Their job is to understand what the customer wants and find a way to get it to them, all the while acting as a liaison with their own organization. In the process of doing that task, sales professionals send countless emails to and have meetings with prospective clients. It’s not uncommon for people in sales to have long-running, warm relationships with the people they cater to—such closeness makes selling easier and more fun.

As such, communication is a key skill among sales professionals. Other traits include being a self-starter, competitiveness, resilience, and fairly good organizational skills. Gumption doesn’t hurt, either.

We asked three women in sales to share more about their careers in this industry. Learn what it’s like to be a sales professional every day.

Read more: What Does an Account Executive Do?

Leslie Hernandez 

Enterprise Account Executive at Gradient AI with 12 years of experience

What does a professional in sales do?

A majority of the focus for a sales representative is to showcase products to businesses, organizations, etc. on behalf of their company. An enterprise account executive acts a liaison between the client and their company. Our role is to understand the initiatives, challenges, and impacts within the client's organization and align the correct products to meet the customer’s needs.

What’s your professional background and why did you pursue your current career?

I got into sales as a student working at a radio station. I worked both on the promotion and sales side. I was naturally better at sales.

How do you help the company?

As a sales representative, I directly impact the company’s growth. When sales representatives are hitting their targets, they generate more revenue for the company which allows the organization to continue to invest in new things overall growing the company.

What does a typical workday look like?

A typical workday is dependent on the person, which adds to the individualism that a sales rep can have. Overall, they typically involve some of the same things as researching your clients or prospects, meetings with clients or prospects, training, and prospecting. Prospecting being the largest piece to any sales rep's day as you are constantly looking to meet with new people to listen, learn, and sell new products to.

What are the three most important parts of your job?

The three most important things in being a sales executive are:

1. Being a good listener. Learning to actively listen to your clients and prospects really goes a long way and sets you up to ask the right questions so that you keep your clients engaged.

2. Having resilience and grit. Sales is a game of numbers, and you can't take anything personal, as long as you are continuously working hard, you will set yourself up for success.

3. Being prepared and doing your research. Clients and prospects appreciate an educated and knowledgeable seller.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of sales is recovering from a bad call or meeting. As you grow in your career these calls/meetings become learning lessons and overall impact you in a positive way. You’ll learn how you can present better; handle objections better, and even prepare better.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of sales are the people.  As a salesperson you get to create relationships with so many different types of people, you learn so much, you'll have memories forever! The most rewarding piece are moments after closing a sale -knowing that your customer is genuinely happy, you've met all of their needs, and reflecting on all the hard work it took to get there!

What’s one piece of advice you could give to someone interested in being a sales professional?

My piece of advice would be to learn how to manage your time effectively (create some sort of consistency) and focus on the outcomes. Understand the goals of your customer vs selling benefits and features of your product. I think the best thing you can do in sales is to focus on your client’s needs, the outcomes they are looking to achieve, and how your products will help them get there.

Lara Greenville Bode

Sales Executive at Gradient AI with eight years of experience

What does a professional in sales do? 

My role as a sales executive is to develop relationships within qualified prospect accounts—utilizing a variety of outreach methods; identify their business process needs; and propose solutions to the problems, bringing value to the customer.

What’s your professional background and why did you pursue your current career?

After college, I spent three years working for a nonprofit—handling fundraising, disaster relief, and community outreach within my region. Most often, I met people on their worst days, as they had been displaced from their homes, and it was my job to both understand their needs and help in any way our organization could. The transition to a sales career came naturally—I work to identify a need and provide value by leveraging my company’s innovative solutions. My first sales manager told me that salespeople are motivated by one of three reasons: freedom, compensation, or appreciation. I think people pursue sales to achieve all three, because ultimately, reaching that balance is when we’re most satisfied.  

How do you help the company?

Working for a startup company, the sales role (as with all roles in a startup) is multi-faceted. My most direct contribution is generating revenue for our company, which allows for continued growth and expansion. Additionally, we are oftentimes the face of our company at conferences and other events; we help build upon our existing strategic partnerships; we are diligent in educating ourselves about the industry and market changes; and we provide insight into where our prospects and customers are looking for our product to expand.

What does a typical workday look like?

Most of my workday is spent researching and calling on prospects. My outreach is very targeted – you can learn a lot about your prospect and how your solutions may best fit their needs, prior to even speaking to them. Outside of prospecting, I manage and strategically progress my sales cycles – engaging the appropriate internal and external resources, as needed. Additionally, I will find opportunities for continuing education/training on either our solutions or industry updates so I can best advise my prospects and customers.

What are the three most important parts of your job?

Develop relationships within qualified opportunities to understand their pain points; articulate, clearly and convincingly, the value our solution brings; manage expectations and simplify the buying process for the customer.  

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Making sure you don’t get tunnel vision—it’s very easy to fall into habits or routines that can cause you to miss things. It’s important to take a step back and self-evaluate; get outside perspective; and be constantly open to constructive criticism.

What’s the best part of your job?

Working for a startup, particularly in sales, is high energy—nothing is monotonous. Every person in my company is completely invested in the future and success of Gradient AI, which makes it so much bigger than just personal achievements. We’re all a part of this, and that makes every day exciting.

What’s one piece of advice you could give to someone interested in being a sales professional?

Really take stock of your strengths and weaknesses—don’t be ashamed to identify the areas you struggle with or need help improving. No two salespeople are the same; we all have unique attributes that make us successful. Identify those people that you respect and want to emulate—learn from their successes and be receptive to their critiques. All of this is developing a business maturity—something an early mentor of mine taught me, and I don’t believe I would have been as successful in my career without it.

Read more: Caught in the Golden Handcuffs? Here's How to Break Free

Eliza Dust

Account Executive, Growth at Nylas with 10+ years of experience

What does a professional in sales do? 

It’s a mixture of responding to sales leads that are generated by marketing activities as well as contacting prospective customers who might not be familiar with Nylas and exploring their user journey to understand where friction exists. 

Technology sales is a team effort. I work closely with our solutions engineers, customer support managers, and the account managers to support both our prospective customers and our existing customers. 

What’s your professional background, and why did you pursue your current career? 

During college, I couldn’t afford to buy a new car, so I walked onto a car dealership and asked for a sales job. Within a few months, I was crushing it. I fell in love with the customers, their stories, and the reason they wanted to buy a car. While I only sold cars for a year, building a meaningful relationship with the customers and earning their trust was incredibly satisfying. Along the way, I earned a bachelor's degree in political science and an MBA from The University of Denver. 

How do you help the company? 

I am an individual contributor on the sales team. Along with two other talented women, I help run an organization for Gender Marginalized employees.

What does a typical workday look like? 

I check and respond to my emails before my morning run. While every day is different, I work on inbound activities in the morning and outbound activities in the afternoon. My days are a mixture of Zoom calls, highly personalized emails, cold calls, prospect follow-up, and research.

What are the three most important parts of your job?

Staying curious, staying organized, and communicating clearly. 

What’s the hardest part of your job? 

Resiliency is critical. Being able to bounce back from rejection, not take it personally, and dive into the next task or the next meeting is hard, but necessary. 

What’s the best part of your job? 

Hands down, the best part of my job is the amazing team I work with.  

What’s one piece of advice you could give to someone interested in being a sales professional?

Don’t be afraid of rejection or the word "no." No is never final. Oftentimes, when a prospective customer says no, that’s when it gets exciting and that’s where the real conversation begins.

Brenda Adame

Manager, Training and Delivery at Spectrum with 12 years of experience 

What does a sales professional do?

An in-bound sales professional provides quality service to prospective customers by providing them with the perfect fit for the customers needs.

What’s your professional background and why did you pursue your current career? 

My background is in training and delivery, and I pursued this career because I love to teach employees how to be subject matter experts in their field. I enjoy seeing their knowledge grown by the day and eventually see them pursue their own career and advancement. There is a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that I played a role in their success.

How do you help the company?

I help the company by keeping everyone up to date on policies and procedures and ensure that my training team begins to develop the new agents for the beginning of their career with Spectrum.

What does a typical workday look like?

A typical workday is never the same. Every day is something different with new challenges, successes, and learning experiences. Typically, however, my day consists of supporting my training team and peers by providing coaching’s, monitoring their delivery of new hire material and providing feedback for their continued growth. 

What are the three most important parts of your job?

The most important aspects of my job are:

1. Making sure everyone is up to date on current policies/procedures since this industry is ever growing and constantly changing.

2.  Setting up new and existing agents with tools and knowledge to be successful in their everyday role.

3. Developing my team to prepare them for their career path by setting them up to be successful leaders.

What’s the hardest part of your job? 

The hardest part of my job is also the most rewarding. When I have a mentor show that they have truly outgrown their position and have to see them leave my team to pursue their career as a supervisor or facilitator, it’s hard to see them leave my team. However, it is also the most rewarding to see them move in their career path within the company.

What’s the best part of your job? 

By far the best part of my job is seeing new hire agents put everything they learned together like a puzzle. When they have that moment of clarity and things fall into place and they fully understand everything that was taught is a moment of accomplishment. There is so much information to absorb that it’s considerably easy for someone to not fully comprehend what is being taught in that moment.

What’s one piece of advice you could give to someone interested in working in sales? 

A piece of advice I would give is to enjoy the ride. At times this role feels like a rollercoaster. It’s a bit scary at times, but it is also very fun. Enjoy every minute of it.

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