Despite a rise in automation and artificial intelligence (AI), sales will always be a relevant career path, according to Brad Anderson, the director of the Sales Leadership Center at Cal State Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics.
“There will always be sales,” he says. “The technology will expand, the amount of data will increase, they will try to automate. But you can’t replace salespeople. A machine will not know what’s new that someone created or that something is available unless someone tells the machines.”
However, Anderson does anticipate customer/salesperson interaction to shift in coming decades, with buyers seeing fewer salespeople and the culture of social media necessitating new ways of penetrating potential buyers.
“Whether it’s a new Tesla battery that is the size of a poker chip or new solar panels that fit between a window instead of on a window, there will always be a need for a salesperson to explain it,” says Anderson.
Sales – and the marketing that drives it – is all about psychology, according to Allen Broyles, associate professor of marketing at Mihaylo College.
“If buyers perceive something as being of value to them, they are motivated to want it. Once they want it, they won’t necessarily buy it, but at least they are motivated to try to find a way to buy it. So marketing is trying to get inside customers’ minds to find out what they value.”
Getting Started in Sales By Selling Yourself
“The best sales advice to young professionals is to realize, as a student, you’re going to have to sell yourself. Recruiters are not just going to fall at your feet, because not only are our business students competing with each other, but they are competing with students from other universities,” says Broyles. “So the more they can do that helps them stand out from the crowd will get recruiters and companies interested in them, and that’s true about advancement also.”
Internships, club involvement and extracurricular activities related to sales are all great ways to help make your résumé stand out.
On-Campus Resources to Help You Get Started
Anderson encourages students to get involved at Cal State Fullerton, utilizing Mihaylo College’s career centers, participating in career fairs, and engaging in sales competitions with the Sales Leadership Center.
“Do things that will get you networking on campus, because that’s how you’ll get to jobs you want to do,” he says. “There are many clubs and centers on this campus, such as the American Marketing Association or the Center for Entrepreneurship, in addition to the Sales Leadership Center. All great ways to connect with companies that will hire you after you graduate and get internships while you’re here.”
If you are interested in a sales career, reach out to Brad Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about resources available to you as a CSUF student.