Across the Cubicles
Jason Ng is the man in charge of the business development of GTI Media, responsible for expanding revenue streams and overseeing the sales force of the company. I decide to cross the bridge from editorial to the sales department of the office on a dual mission: to get to know my well-dressed and enigmatic colleague a little better and to learn more about the intricacies and principles beneath his work in sales.
'You’ll be facing people in everything you do.'
Jason exudes the vibe of a man of few, well-chosen words. I’ve always found this intriguing because it challenges the perception of salespeople as mostly chatty types. ‘You don’t need to be an extrovert to work in sales,’ counters Jason. ‘Some people like to talk a lot, but can’t make the sale because their talk is empty. You absolutely can be an introvert and work in sales. Quiet people tend to think before they speak; they listen to what people say and think of the best way to respond. You should say things that are on-point rather than a lot of hot air.’
Good people skills and the ability to think fast are the two things that Jason cites as absolutely crucial to a person in sales. ‘Introvert or not, sales and business is all about the people,’ he says. ‘And your window of opportunity with these people can be very short. You’ll need to make a pitch, capture their interest, and even close deals on the spot in some lines of work. Knowing how to react fast to people is something that comes with experience; some people are more naturally gifted at it, but I believe it can be learned.’
'It's definitely rewarding.'
I ask Jason what it is about working in sales that he enjoys and finds gratifying. ‘I like that I get to meet a lot of different people and interesting characters at a variety of events,’ he says. ‘In a way, it helps me expand my knowledge, because when you meet new people you learn things from them and gain different perspectives.’
Jason also acknowledges that the financial returns are something any salesperson would mention as a rewarding aspect of the job. ‘Sales is the only job where the amount you earn is directly proportional to how much you do,’ he says. ‘In a regular job, you’re paid a basic salary and you’ll have to depend on your bonus for additional rewards. But in sales, if you want more money, you go out and look for more business and you’ll get more.
‘Another thing about working in business development is that it helps if you want to move into a management position,’ Jason adds. ‘It’s beneficial to have that sales experience as you understand not only your products, but also the market. This knowledge helps with conceiving a successful product and conducting a wider-view company direction.’
'Always improve to stay ahead.'
Working in sales isn’t exactly a niche career and I want to know what’s necessary for a great salesperson to stand out above the rest. I ask Jason to share what his secret is.
‘I set goals for myself, whether long-term or short-term,’ Jason says. ‘I also always accept criticism and find ways to change for the better. I believe in outperforming myself every day. Right now, I would have to be a better person than the person I was a minute ago – and the next minute I’d have to be better than I am now. Only if you continuously strive to develop all aspects of your life will you find more goals to achieve and ways to achieve them.’
Jason continues, ‘When people doubt me, I like to try and prove them wrong; but not just for the sake of being right. Sometimes when people say a thing can’t be done, that’s not really the case; often it’s because no-one wants to do it. Therefore, I don’t accept things as impossible at first glance but always try to find ways to see if it can be done. You may think this a waste of time, but it is not. When you spend time doing something, you learn – and learning is never a waste of time. It takes a lot of hard work, but that’s what got me to where I am today.’
'You won't survive if you lose yourself.'
We wrap up with some of Jason’s thoughts on good business practice and integrity. ‘Remember to think of your career in sales long-term,’ he says. ‘Don’t mark up prices or cut corners at the risk of losing future sales. If you treat your customers well and provide solutions to their problems, they’ll remember you and refer you to others. In sales, reputation is something that can make or break you. Trust me, if you’re cheating people, word gets around. Money is important, but nothing is more important than your self-worth and reputation.’
‘Most importantly, always have integrity. Do not lose that. An unfortunate opinion of the sales line is that it requires people to forgo their integrity just to hit their target. But what we need is for the people in sales to have personal values and fight against this negative image. A good way to do this is to believe in the product you’re selling. That way, you don’t have to feel like you’re tricking someone into buying a product you don’t believe in. If you’re not comfortable with what you’re selling, look for another position. There are plenty of sales jobs out there.’