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The Job Most Millionaires Had Before They Got Rich

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Written by: Ken Kupchik

Many people, probably most people, want to get rich. Whether it’s because you want to drive expensive sports cars, take extravagant vacations, or simply just attain the peace of mind that money can offer, being rich is an attractive proposition. Some people inherit money and become rich (seems easy), but others are self-made, and figure out how to make a fortune without getting it handed down to them.

But what does this have to do with sales, you might be wondering. This is a sales blog after all, brought to you by the only sales automation CRM that really understands sales.

Well, the connection between being a self-made billionaire or multi-millionaire and sales is that not only did many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs spend time in sales roles, but new research by sociologist and historian Rainer Zitelmann shows that many self-made “rich people” credit sales skills as having played the most important role in their success.

In Zitelmann’s new book, called “The Wealth Elite,” he interviewed 45 individuals whose net worth ranged from $11 million to more than $3 billion. His findings showed that about two out of three people he interviewed indicated that their sales abilities played a significant factor in their financial success.

Additionally, one in three respondents said that they owed 70%  or more of their success to their sales talents.

While Zitelmann conducted his research in Europe, there are plenty of well-known CEOs who once worked sales jobs, including Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Mark Cuban of Shark Tank, and many many more.

You might be wondering why sales jobs can be so valuable if you want to be financially successful, especially as a businessperson.

There are a few likely reasons.

One, when working a sales job, you get to learn so much about how a business operates in the market, especially at the most critical junction, the one where a customer exchanges their money for goods. To be sure, there are lots of other aspects of running a business that are critical, but without sales, a business isn’t a business, no matter how great the product, team, company culture, or location is.

Another reason is because the skills you learn in sales can benefit you tremendously in most business pursuits. If you do become a CEO or company founder, there are lots of people you’ll need to persuadebesides your customers. You’ll need your employees or business partners to buy into your vision, your investors to believe in you, and a myriad of other successful relationships if you want to be successful. Sales skills are people skills, and many successful businesspeople, like Michael Bloomberg, credit knowing how to work well with people as the most important skill to success, above engineering, marketing,  or business strategy.

Finally, sales can help you in your career even if you don’t become a businessperson. Communicating, influencing, negotiating, and pushing to meet goals are all valuable skills that can take you further if you possess them.

So if you’re working in sales and you have grand ambitions for yourself, you’re probably starting in the right place, like many other highly successful people. And if you just want to be the best in your career that you can possibly be, that’s great too. Just make sure you understand and value the skills that working in sales can teach you.

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