If you’ve ever been friendzoned by your crush, have your boss pick someone’s idea over yours, or been told you are ineligible for the RM50 ePenjana initiative; you’ll know that it sucks to be rejected.
So, then you might wonder what it’s like for someone to get rejected multiple times every day – like, do they cry in the shower while listening to Linkin Park every night or would they eventually not feel anything because they’ve….become so numb?
Welcome to the world of sales.
Just to clarify, this article isn’t focusing on the type of salesman that tries to sell you torchlights at the mamak. Instead, we’re focusing on “professional” sales jobs that require a lot more time and effort invested because this makes the rejection just that much more painful. And this is because we
are sadists want to know why anyone would put up with the constant pain of rejection for the sake of a career in sales.
Speaking of a career in sales, our friends at Allianz wants to help you make insurance sales a career, but we’ll talk about that at the end of the article because there are some super interesting insights from our interviewees that we’d like to share first.
1. Hilmi, property sales
Unlike many people who join the property sales line after a referral from another negotiatior, Hilmi actually jumped into the property business after seeing an opening on JobStreet, and never looked back.
“Honestly I wasn’t earning much when I was working as a part time lecturer. I wanted something different, and I’ve always been interested in real estate since young.
I never thought I’d be selling it, but I know that’s where my passion is. Most of the people in the Forbes list come from a real estate background.”
And it seems like he’s getting closer to his goals, because in just 4 short years, he’s worked his way up from being just another real estate negotiator to a team leader!
“Right now I’m not really doing sales anymore, I’m more to leading and managing my team.
I still do sales once in a while. It’s not much [because now] I’m more into changing people’s lives.
“Being in sales, I… love it! I’m addicted to it. I love the environment, I love the work nature, I love meeting new people. Even though there will always be ups and downs, I will never trade it for anything. I’m forever grateful for the life I have and I’ve committed myself to the line.”
And oh, did we mention he’s only 26 this year?
2. Tat Deng, Insurance sales
Tat Deng has been in insurance for almost 9 years (with Allianz, of course) and, before you ask, yes. He’s very familiar with the Insurance Agent stereotype.
“Sometimes when I call a friend out for a drink, I can sense them thinking ‘this fella sure trying to sell me something’. I really just want to go for a drink!”
After graduating with a double degree in Commerce and Marketing Management, Tat Deng started off in advertising which he found out didn’t actually pay a lot.
“I open one bottle at the club (last time lah) also broke already”
This spurred him to try out part time sales, and he settled on insurance. Within 6 months, he was earning an additional RM1.2k – RM1.8k just from working weekends and nights. So, he took a leap of faith and went into insurance full-time.
“When I joined, it was all about the money. I’d be lying if I said I was trying to save the world.”
This view changed in 2014 when one of his clients passed away from a brain tumor.
“He had a RM1 million life insurance policy. I went to meet his wife to give her the cheque, and she broke down. She said something like “My husband went to Hong Kong, America, Singapore for brain surgery but at the end of the day I failed to get back my husband. We mortgaged the house, the car, and put plans for the children’s education on hold. At least you gave me back all those things.”
I realized, eh, this isn’t only about commissions, but this kind of thing actually helps people. I had a sense of purpose.”
Tat Deng says that since the experience, he’s been going the extra mile to understand what a client wants in order to design a customized policy – something which may not be common in most cases since it’s a lot more work than just fitting a standard policy to their budget.
Like many insurance agents, Tat Deng is no stranger to rejection, and says that the pain from a “No” would linger for 1 or 2 days when he first started. But perhaps due to his experience above (we didn’t ask), he found there was a difference between what he was doing, versus what a regular salesperson does.
“A salesman will only want to tell you benefits of a policy, but someone who really cares will tell you the consequences of not having it”
And in similar sense, Allianz also doesn’t train “Top Salespeople”. Rather, they want their agents to genuinely care for and advise their clients instead of hitting sales targets.
On that note, Tat Deng thinks that people should be more willing to say ‘no’.
They think that the salesperson is the bad guy but it’s actually because they feel paiseh, and that is when the fear comes out. We’re actually very open to rejection. In fact after almost 9 years I can say I’m numb to rejection already. Hahahah”
Wait, did he say he’s numb to rejection?
3. Sharon, Chemical sales
Sharon is currently a Sales Manager at a regional distributor of industrial chemicals. Like many of our interviewees, she started in the field of production and quality control but decided to make the switch to sales when she couldn’t tahan the long working hours and overtime.
“I heard the working hours were flexible and the commission was quite good. That time I was young so I thought no harm to try la.”
However, she tells us that she wasn’t 100% sure about the decision, because she also heard that doing sales involved a lot of dodgy stuff like going to karaoke, drinking, and other sleazy Wolf of Wall Street-type shenanigans.
“This is my first sales job. The management maybe saw the uncertainty in my face, so they assured me that the sales job here is very safe and “clean”. Hahaha.
That made me feel comfortable… and I stayed until now.”
She says that a sales job can definitely get stressful, especially when sales targets are involved and some customers require months of follow-up. Her advice on this is to “challenge yourself and be hardworking,” because when you finally close that sale…
Her advice isn’t just motivational talk too – it came from actual experience:
“I had one potential customer 5-6 years ago who was just an ordinary contractor. Even through they were small, I did my regular follow-up with them. And then suddenly they said they have a big project in Brickfields. I got my sales manager and my bosses involved and we managed to close the first tender for the company.
The best part is that we didn’t know the product I was selling could be used in that industry, so we unwittingly opened up a new line of sales for that product.”
Sharon says she decided to stay in sales because she sees herself playing a role in getting customers to switch to greener alternatives, which not only helps the environment but also the opening new markets to them (in terms of meeting export requirements to certain countries). It’s definitely not for the commission though.
“Because ah, chemical sales actually got no commission wan. Hahahahahahahah”
4. Marcus, Co-working space sales
Marcus is currently a senior sales executive at WORQ, selling co-working space arrangements to companies looking for a home. Despite starting out in the hospitality industry (since he majored in it), Marcus tells us he’s technically been in sales for all 15 of his working years.
“No matter where I go to, as long as it’s client-facing, it’s sales oriented”
Marcus readily admits that sales has a lot more ups and downs compared to other jobs. He’s also realized that high sales isn’t as important as consistent sales, stating how his proudest moment was when his team sold out the entirety of WORQ’s KL Gateway outlet within 4 months, “but now, post-MCO, I have to somewhat do it again as the MCO has affected the business of some of our members, needing me to refill rooms again.”
Here’s Marcus’s way of dealing with rejections:
“Have more leads so you don’t have to rely on every prospect becoming a sale. For example, if I have 50 people to call, I’ll treasure each one of those. If I have 200, then they become names on my list – no harm no foul when they say ‘no’.”
Beyond selling, he sees his job as helping businesses grow by giving them opportunities to build connections within the WORQ community or simply just giving them a place to work out of. Funny enough though, he says that the best compliment he received was from someone who ended up NOT renting from him
5. George, FMCG Sales
In case you’re wondering, FMCG stands for Fast-Moving Consumer Goods, aka the stuff you buy from brands like Nestle, Coca-Cola, L’OREAL and Unilever.
George started his career as an area sales manager in an FMCG company selling ice cream 5 years ago, after he graduated with a degree in marketing. While he says being in the sales line helps him improve on his planning and leadership skills, a lot of people seem to have a misconception on what his job really entails.
“When you say you work in sales, and selling ice cream, then people think that you’re driving the ice cream motorcycle that sings ‘Mat Kool Mat Kool kawanku’.
But noo, it’s so much more than that! It’s about managing a team, planning the promotions, building a good relationship with outlets, managing their complaints, making sure your sales team and merchandisers have a steady income.”
So, how stressful is this job?
Well, George told us that his monthly sales target was RM1.3 million to RM1.5 million, on top of a whole lot of other KPIs to meet, on top of the sales target steadily increasing over the years (because FMCG companies focus on growth), on top of managing a team; ensuring everyone is delivering their individual KPIs and handling all the human interactions in between. .
“When they cannot hit their KPI, I’ll sit down with them 1-on-1 to understand their problem and coach them to find the action plan. And sometimes, you just need to lower your expectations. Even if they cannot straight away hit 100%, at least I can see some improvement from 0% to 50%, and that’s okay.”
So how does he deal with all that on-top-of stress?
“I do what I can for the day, then I go home and watch YouTube, maybe read a book on history, wake up for a new day, and repeat.”
George enjoys the sales life because he doesn’t have to be stuck in the office all day. On top of that, he knows he can always go home feeling good that his team’s livelihoods are secure.
“It’s nice to know I can help my team get more incentive and give them a stable income. Help them change car, change house, change girlfriend… Hahahaha! But seriously, I also grow my team’s skills and they have quite a stable income”.
Being a salesperson ain’t as easy as you think, but if you wanna give it a go…
We dunno for sure if this article has helped change your perception of a career in sales but, if anything, it perhaps highlights that finding the right kind of sales job can be fulfilling to your dompet and your rohani. And the best part is that, if you’re stuck in an unfulfilling job and thinking of joining the exciting world of sales……..it’s not too late. As most of our interviewees have shown, you don’t need to be specially educated or have a “right time” to get into a career in sales. A lot of the time, finding the right company is half the battle won.
As one of the leading insurance providers in Malaysia, Allianz knows that being an insurance agent – or what they call a Life Changer – means more than just hitting targets. This is why they’re supporting new recruits with the Allianz Life Changer program, which doesn’t only provide step-by-step technical training but also building personal values and support to help you through any low points that come with the job. In essence, being a Life Changer doesn’t only change the lives of your clients, but your own as well.
If you’re thinking of a future career in sales but worried that you ain’t got the skills; don’t worry cause, like an insurance policy, Allianz has got you…. covered. Sign up at the Allianz Life Changer website here, or find out more from their Facebook Page linked here.
In the meantime, please excuse us while we give the Cilisos sales team a hug.