Would You Ever Work in Sales?

Would you ever work in Sales?

Back in my misspent youth, I remember reading Death of a Salesman and swearing that I would never work in sales. It was such a depressing take on the whole profession, I didn’t want to have any part of it.

In international development, we use code words to refer to sales roles: Business Development, Program Development, Fundraising, Partnerships, etc. Now we might be selling services to a government or foundation, or an emotional response to an individual donor, but its all the same, really. Its sales.

I work in Sales, and I love it.

My main role at FHI 360 is to take all the cool tech ideas and proven solutions and find which ones are appropriate for our work, and sell the approach to a donor, be they a bilateral, government, foundation, or corporation. At its heart, its a sales role, and I love it.

Devex has 5 reasons to work in business development but I have one of my own: its creative and fun. Every day I’m working on a new problem, with only my imagination constraining what we can consider to solve it. Kindles? Check. Drones? Check. Sensors? Check. I get to work at the cutting edge of development – and I’m paid to do it!

Sales is its own expertise.

My only issue with the Devex article is that they make it seem like its easy to get a sales role, or that sales doesn’t require its own level of specialization akin to a programmatic role. Before you think the same, please read a USAID RFx (RFP, RFA, RFI) from start to finish. That in itself takes a specific skill.

Still, don’t be put off by thinking the role is somehow less important or less impactfull than project management.  It takes a good salesperson to bring in the money that funds projects. If you have a paycheck this month, thank a salesperson.

*Photo courtesy of the Ephrata Performing Arts Center