When I left University with a History degree and $50k in debt, I had no idea what I wanted to achieve with my life. Like many graduates at the age of 18 you just donât even know who you are as a person, never mind what you want to do for the rest of your life. I have always had the attributes of a sales person without realising it.
At the age of 10 I was selling second-hand toys at the school bring and buy sale that I had arranged myself (with the hopes of getting a Blue Peter Badge). At 15 I was selling shoelaces and chicken wings at the school playground (of course hiding it from the health and safety conscious school teachers). Then when I was old enough to work, I was lucky enough to work for what is probably one of the biggest mobile phone companies in the world. I say lucky, lucky because it gave me exposure to what real sales is, KPI's , fighting over customers and quick wins. Not to mention a constant nagging manager that would advise me to sell internet broadband to elderly people who didn't even own computers, phones or tablets!
This is probably when my love/hate relationship with sales began, I loved the thrill of winning a sale but seeing a customer sign away their life for 24 months for a product that I knew came with lots of issues felt immoral to me. Without realising it, I was becoming a ruthless sales person and the better I did the more my manager would push me to upsell unwanted products to my customers. After graduating, I still didn't know what I wanted to do apart from travelling, but seeing all my friends go into real office jobs and on salary's made me feel like a failure. What could I possibly do? All I know I can do is sell... but I hate sales!
A lovely recruitment company in the UK offered me the chance to interview for one of the best-known brands and internet companies in the world, I couldn't resist and just being in their office gave me a sense of I've made it mama!. The role they had me in mind for was sales, even better, telesales. It sounded great, calling customers who already know the brand and selling them a product that actually worked, what could go wrong? Nothing. I became the best selling sales person in my team and was making more commission than I could imagine. What made me enjoy it was not the money, but the people, the Manager and of course the product I was selling. My manager was not pushing me to sell a product that we both knew didn't work; he was showing me how it worked and how it was actually a good investment for our clients. Having said that, it was still sales and cold calling over and over again became so repetitive. Every month was a new month, back to 0 and back to the bottom of the ladder.
The opportunity to move across the pond to Australia was exactly what I needed. I had already proven to all my university friends that I wasnât a failure and I was capable of working in a 9-5 office job. I had a good brand on my CV and knew I was more than capable of using my skills across a number of different roles.
After travelling and dipping my toes into one more telesales role, I was offered the chance to work in recruitment. Now donât get me wrong, recruitment sounded awful! All I have ever heard about recruitment was how tough it was and how cut throat the industry was. It sounded like a nightmare at first, but after speaking to a friend of mine that worked at Xpand, all I heard was the opposite. Everyone is actually sooo nice and they donât expect me to make a placement straight away, they actually just want me to get familiar with the market first it didn't sound too bad, plus I was being offered a role without KPI's, winning!
I have been at Xpand for over 3 months, and all I can say is how happy I am and how much I love my work. Xpand's culture is exactly what I love, we are not a quiet office we play all genres of music, we have cultural days where we cook dishes from all countries around the globe and we have the odd night out. What makes it better is my Manager is supportive and actually motivates me, as opposed to rushing me to do something I am not confident in.
Yes, some people put recruitment hand in hand with sales but it's not! You are matching good candidates with good companies, you are helping people make the step forward in their career and matching them to better opportunities. To be honest, placing the candidate is the most rewarding thing as opposed to making money for it. There have been times when things haven't gone to plan and I have made mistakes that have cost me opportunities, but after being in sales for so long you learn how to be resilient and not let things get to you.
I hope I haven't put anyone off sales, it is just my personal experience. I have always said you can't be a good sales person if you don't believe in the product! I believe my candidates are the best, and I know the clients are ones that I would be happy enough to work for myself, so why wouldn't I be happy to match the two up?