The upside of a 24-hour news cycle is hearing about all the amazing stuff poised to break into the mainstream: VR, commercial space flight, portable dialysis machines, miracle drugs, home DNA tests, self-driving cars, robot babysitters, miniature elephants and a host of other sci-fi promises finally about to be made good on. But where are the salespeople for these big new ideas? It’s going to take a lot more than a Facebook ad campaign to sell us on the future—it’s going to take people who still believe in one. So when I hear that millennials aren’t interested in sales jobs, I’m left feeling disappointed and little confused.

If you think that sales positions are for pushy people that lack inspiration, I’m here to shed some light. Nothing is more divorced from reality. Ever hear of a guy named Steve Jobs? He was a salesman. Alexander Graham Bell traveled the world selling the first telephone. Benjamin Franklin sold us on America. Beyoncé. It takes real insight, passion and creativity to sell the concepts and revolutionary products that will change the world.

Big Ideas Need Representation

Nobody wants you selling something you don’t believe in. Non-profits, corporations and startups all want smart young people to get their message out, but only if they’re true believers. Pick a company you want to run one day, join their sales team and take part. If, for example, you want to save the world by working with a company that makes 3D printers specifically outfitted to bring affordable medical equipment to the third world, why not help them sell a few? No matter how innovative or revolutionary a product is, it’s the human element that success hangs on. While you’re young, still getting a handle on who you are and what you want, hacking away at student debt and building a life, a tour of duty or two in sales is a no-brainer, and almost guaranteed to supercharge the rest of your journey.

Earn While You Learn

No other role within a company offers as high a return for the amount of time put in than a sales job. Sales associates often become the best-informed people in the company; excellent communicators and brand experts who inspire confidence—the visible proof that a company is growing. Executives aside, sales people are also usually the highest paid. Travel can also be an essential element of a career in sales and an added value for someone young enough to take full advantage. Lunching in fine restaurants, visiting factories, dropping in on foreign bureaus, flying business class and staying in hotels can add up to some pretty great perks when you have no responsibilities, i.e. a mortgage, family, rowdy pets and in-laws. Okay, so maybe it’s not all celebratory champagne and expense accounts, but it’s totally possible and not a bad way to start seeing the world. And there is no wage gap between male and female sales people. It’s performance that counts. Numbers aren’t gender biased. You get out of it what you put in.

Closing In On Creativity

If you think of sales as simply pushing products and services onto unsuspecting people that don’t want them, you’re mistaken. A valuable salesperson that earns is always finding inventive ways of selling the product. You must be able to close the deal, sure, but you also have to find interesting ways to engage with customers and present the facts. Good presentations are also well-written, and well delivered. That takes know-how and imagination. Trying out different approaches to find out what works, experimentation and personal style are both rewarded and lauded over. It takes independence and authority to carve out your own niche and creative thinkers are usually best suited for the task. Creativity isn’t something that comes with a title, it’s something a person brings with them to whatever they decide to do.

Become A Well-Rounded Human

Finesse, empathy and the good judgement to meet people halfway (not to mention a sense of humour) are developed over time. Negotiation, problem solving and diplomacy require nuance that can’t be taught in the classroom. The ability to talk to people, present ideas to them, gauge their reactions and “read them” takes practice. Learning the difference between networking and making friends isn’t obvious. All of the aforementioned lead to developing your own self worth and building a veritable stock in trade of communication expertise. No matter how creative you are, or how bold, if you can’t effectively share your ideas one-on-one with actual people it will be hard stand out. Learning how to make meaningful connections with people is a competency that sales jobs love to nurture. Real-world skills only crystallize in the field, and will serve you for a lifetime, no matter where your path leads you.

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