It’s not just finance folks and engineering types who can make a lot of money after graduation. One of the most profitable fields for high-performing college grads is actually sales.
As a profession, sales is sometimes misunderstood, largely because of how many companies fail to properly support their sales teams. But finding the right sales role—at the right organization—can mean the opportunity to make the kind of “life-changing money” many of us dream about.
To learn more about how mastering sales can lead to a big bank account, we spoke to someone who has done it: Catherine, a former Recruiter and current Account Executive at Apex—one of the country’s premier technical recruiting firms.
The First Step Is Learning About Your Industry
As one sales veteran wrote in the Harvard Business Review, one of the key traits of any great salesperson is expertise. That means learning about your industry, product, and prospective customers. And Catherine agrees—but for her, that meant learning about two different industries at once: sales and recruiting. And like most people entering the field of technical recruiting, she didn’t know much about how the industry worked—or that it even existed before.
A couple of things she learned: Companies like Apex aren’t hiring Recruiters to fill positions within Apex. Their Recruiters work to place skilled candidates in hard-to-fill roles for their clients, who can range from tech giants to airlines and everything in between. Plus, Apex’s Recruiters aren’t limited by their base salary—they have the opportunity to earn a series of bonuses and uncapped commission. That’s why leaning into the training and development was so important for Catherine: She wanted to start winning and making money right away.
“The training was typical classroom style, followed by shadowing,” Catherine explains. This meant learning about sales methodology, industry terms, and other basics from a designated sales trainer before shadowing other successful team members to see more specific skills in action.
Apex, Catherine tells us, makes sure that everyone has the chance to learn—but, of course, really seizing that opportunity is up to you. And Catherine didn’t hesitate to ask questions, do her own research, and do as much observation as she could.
Next: Building A Sales Pipeline And Taking Ownership Of Accounts
There’s a period of time during which you have to work hard to build your sales pipeline, which refers to the flow of prospects, candidates, and customers that ends in signed deals, contracts, and success for you and your team.
The only way to build out your pipeline is to take ownership of the process. This means staying in close contact with the client, finding the right candidates, and seeing them through the hiring process. And doing it yourself is one way of making sure it actually happens. Catherine’s advice aligns closely with that of the HBR’s sales expert, who says that getting a contract signed (and a bonus or commission secured) is about not waiting on others to handle aspects of the deal and instead taking the responsibilities on yourself.
Catherine heeded that particular lesson when she took on an account of a new client. They needed to fill hundreds of positions in a short time. Catherine not only found the candidates, but also brought them into the Apex office to pre-screen them on behalf of the client—and make sure the candidates felt heard. This above-and-beyond service Catherine provided to the client (and the candidates) was part of the reason she was able to get so many contracts signed for them. Mastering these aspects of the sales process really paid off for her financially, too.
“I got an all-time high for my first 12 months of recruiting and the paychecks were very rewarding,” Catherine says.
When You Find A Winning Formula—Don’t Stop Moving
Catherine’s momentum with her recruiting clients helped her build invaluable relationships with key decision makers (a sales term for the person at a company with buying power) and a promotion to Account Executive.
“The secret sauce to being successful in sales or at Apex is learning by experience and understanding that you can be the best version of yourself in any role you want,” Catherine explains.
She didn’t know much about the technical recruiting industry, but her commitment to mastering the sales process—and going the extra mile to ensure every detail was covered—resulted in her success—both financially and professionally.
Within two years of graduating Catherine was making six figures and soon even more than that. While her success was exceptional, she explains, there are plenty of other smart, capable salespeople and Recruiters at Apex making that much and even more.
And that group could include you. So, what are you waiting for?
Ready to make your own life-changing money? Check out open opportunities at Apex on WayUp!