Why I gave up professional engineering to be a sales professional

Why would anyone give up a professional career for sales? I know this idea sounds crazy and is very difficult for many to comprehend, especially those who are looking for a progressive career path. It simply doesn’t make any sense. I find the answer can be traced back to the ideas we are conditioned to believe as being socially acceptable.

First and foremost, the idea we should focus on building a professional career, in engineering, accounting, law or medicine due to the stability and reputability of these professions is instilled in us from a very young age.

Secondly, the idea a career in sales is meant for those who couldn’t make it through university is a widely held belief. The general view of a career in sales is that it is very tough and awash with rejection. There is also a stigma surrounding sales and the day-to-day work it involves.

These preconceived ideas of success, guided my study and career choices. Interestingly, I found out I wasn’t alone. Most of my classmates in university also grew up with the same ideas, instilled in them by parents and society.

Before I get into the reasons why I left my professional career for one in sales, here is a little background about me to help you better understand my choices. I grew up in a very typical Singaporean background where a strong emphasis was placed on academic and professional achievement. There was major competition among top students to get the best grades and/or distinctions.

The underlying reason behind this competition was the belief that professionals are better paid and people with the best grades are paid even more. Like many, I became one of these grade conscious paper chasers.

Now that you’ve learnt a bit about me, here’s why I decided against pursuing a career in professional engineering. (Please note these are purely my own thoughts and opinions, and it simply reflects the reasons for my choices).

1. The globalisation challenge – I realised that with globalisation, there are always engineering graduates from developing countries such as Vietnam and The Philippines who will be eager to compete for my job. They will be willing to work much harder and for less pay. In fact, my goal has always been the reverse; work smarter with higher pay.

2.Long wait for high income – No doubt the career path of an engineer is very stable with good income. In fact, as an engineer becomes more experienced, their professional income will grow in line with the experience held. There is nothing wrong with this. However, being the impatient person that I am, I wanted to earn more at a younger age. As such, being a professional engineer was not ideal for me as it takes years to achieve the level of income I want now.

Here are the reasons why I decided to pursue a sales career:

1. Personal development – I have come to realise most people who are very successful in their career, have usually started in sales. This, I believe, can be attributed to the soft skills one learns from doing sales. Skills such as communication, presentation and people skills are very important for sales professionals to do well. Interestingly, these soft skills are equally important to succeed in other parts of life.

2. Higher income without having to wait – As sales remuneration is highly performance based, I don’t have to wait years for my income to grow. I know that as long as I am prepared to learn and work hard, I will be able to make much more and in a shorter space of time as compared to a profession such as engineering.

3. Discipline – Discipline is extremely important to anyone in sales. It is not just discipline in managing time; it also includes discipline in managing emotions and also commitment to goals.

4. Setting goals – Sales is about setting goals every day. I have come to realise the importance of setting goals. It will almost always determine the destiny of one’s life and yet, goal setting is seldom mentioned or taught in school.

5. Rejection management – Most people don’t wish to be involved in sales because they don’t like or they can’t handle rejection. As much as we hate to admit it, rejection is part of life. In fact, it is a big part of life. Every successful person faces rejection on their journey to get to where they are today. I believed being involved in sales would be the best place for me to pick up this invaluable skill.

With all these points in mind, I made one of the most important, yet terrifying decisions of my life, which was to give up engineering and to embrace a career in sales. It has been 14 years since I made that decision and I haven’t looked back since.

I am always amused when asked how I mustered up the courage to give up six years of my studies to embark on a career most people avoid. My answer, as always is, “I would rather give up six years of my life than to give up 30 years to a career that has a limit to progression and earning potential.” My career in sales has enabled me to live the life I have always dreamed of.

If you would like to find more about a career with Appco Group Asia, please visit our career section.

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Leadership is about Influence!

What separates a good leader from a great leader is their level of Influence on people.

In this article I would like to share some insights on the following:

  • What is Influence?
  • What are the stages of Influence and their impact?

What is Influence?
The definition states that it is the capacity to have an effect on the character and behaviour of a person or a team, merriam-webster.com. Everyone has influence. The only question, is it positive or negative.

“If your life in anyway connects with other people then you are an Influencer.”– Jim Dornan

“An amusing story about the impact of influence comes from the administration of President Calvin Coolidge. An overnight guest at the White House was having breakfast with Coolidge one morning, and he wanted to make a good impression on the president. He noticed that Coolidge, having been served coffee, took the coffee cup, poured some of its contents into a deep saucer, and leisurely added a little bit of sugar and cream.

Not wanting to breach any rules of etiquette, the visitor followed the commander in chief’s lead, and he poured some of his coffee into his saucer and added sugar and cream. Then he waited for the president’s next move. He was horrified to see him place the saucer on the floor of the cat”. Extract from ‘Becoming the Person of Influence’, Jim Dornan.

“Influence is Powerful”

The stages of influence and their Impact

According to author Jim Dornan there are four stages of influence and each stage has a different level of impact.

Stage 1: Modelling

In the modelling stage, as a leader you influence people by what you do and by what you see. If your team sees you as positive, trustworthy with admirable qualities, then they will seek you as an influencer in their lives. When your team gets to know you better as their leader then your credibility increases and so does your level of influence.

As part of my learning journey I have always travelled to different countries and marketing companies. I have met people whom I didn’t know at first. Sometimes I was introduced to leaders by people I trust and I temporarily borrowed their Influence about a leader. As I have some time to observe that leader then either I build or bust that influence through their actions.

“You can be a model to the masses, but to go the higher levels of influence, you have to work with individuals.”– Jim Dornan

Stage 2: Motivating

As a leader you become a motivational influencer when you encourage people and communicate with them on an emotional level. In this process two things happen:

  1. It creates a bridge between you and them
  2. It builds confidence and a sense of self-worth

When your team feels good about you and themselves during the times they are with you, then your level of influence increases significantly.

Stage 3: Mentoring

As a motivational influencer you have a higher impact on your team and when you are a mentoring influencer then your impact becomes long lasting.

Mentoring means genuinely helming your team to reach their potential. The power of mentoring is so strong that you can actually see the lives of the persons you are influencing change before your eyes. Mentoring your team during challenging times can have a big impact. You are there guiding them through those challenges and showing them how to grow personally and professionally. Mentoring is a very powerful way of influencing your team.

Stage 4: Multiplying

As a multiplying influencer, you help people you are influencing to become positive influencers in the lives of others and pass on not only what they have received from you but also what they have learned on their own.

It is not easy to achieve this stage of influence. From my own experience, I have seen a lot of leaders achieve and apply stage one and stage two and some have reached stage three but only very few people have reached this multiplying stage.

To reach this stage of influence as a leader – you need to be selfless, generous and committed. Most importantly, this all takes time. A leader needs to give more individual attention to team members.

In conclusion, every day we are all wearing different hats. At home we are husband or wife; mother or father; sister or brother; son or daughter and at work we are leader or follower at times. And the bottom line is no matter who we are, we are influencing people around us. We are Influencers!

The source for some key points in this blog post are taken from Jim Dornan’s book “Becoming the person of Influence”.

Vishnu Annapareddy, Centurion Organisation is a strategic partner to Appco Group Asia. Centurion Organisation is a marketing company that works with teams of self-employed independent contractors who conduct face-to-face sales and fundraising, representing Appco’s clients in Malaysia and The Philippines.

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Marketing company owner hails self-employment benefits

Marcelino O. Reyes, More Marketing Solutions, is a partner to Appco Group Philippines conducting face-to-face sales and fundraising for Appco’s clients.

The benefits of self-employment were Marcelino’s main incentive when he became an independent contractor within Appco’s network after graduating from university.
Six years on, he is a marketing company owner and says the freedom of being his own boss is still a highlight.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in political science, in 2010, and began working as an independent contractor.

The idea of working for myself was appealing because I felt it would give me greater control over my future – my progress would be determined by my own hard work.

The longer I stayed in the industry, the more advantages I found.

I discovered how much I enjoyed mentoring others, helping them build their careers as I continued to build my own.

My long-term aim was to have my own business, and my determination paid off last year when I became an owner partner.

But I’m far from done. If anything, reaching that goal has inspired me to think even bigger. My next move is to open the third office in the Phillippines contracting to Appco. This new office will be at the Ortigas Center, located on the financial and central business district boundaries of Pasig, Mandaluyong, and Quezon City.

Being self-employed has given me more freedom, both with time and income, but it has also allowed me to develop professionally and personally.

Each day, I learn more from other people in the industry, and I am able to pass that on to others who are just starting out in their careers.

As I continue to move forward, I can only see more opportunities to learn, develop and progress.

#AppcoGroupAsia, #AppcoPhilippines, #AppcoGroupPhilippines, #MarcelinoOReyes, #Entrepreneurship #Selfemployment #independentcontractor

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