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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Uncomfortable with Selling

Dear Sue: Over the past year I’ve been selling ad space for a major magazine. It’s been a little over a year and I still am not comfortable with the sales process. I’m constantly stressed out over making phone calls, the in-person meetings and the demands of the publishers. I feel at times as if I’m forcing myself into this career because the monetary benefits are so great.

I’m not sure how to combine the skills I’ve gained from this career with the other skills I gained through my previous experiences which include retail sales. Do you have any advice for me?

–Not a sales person

Sue Says: I acknowledge you and congratulate you for sticking with this position for at least a year. You say it hasn’t been easy, but you’ve stuck it out long enough to at least have enough information to make a decision as to whether you will leave or stay. It takes time to build relationships and accounts and create a successful sales business.

Let me assure you that few people are “natural” sales people. Some of the most successful salespeople will tell that they, too, dislike making cold calls and other aspects of their jobs. But they do it anyway.

Do not discount the experience you have gained, no matter how uncomfortable it has been. You have gained much more than you realize. With your experience in retail sales and now outside sales, you have some solid sales experience. I’m not convinced you should leave sales altogether; you have special qualities to have done what you have this past year, despite the discomfort you’ve felt. Perhaps you are a good fit for sales, but may be more comfortable selling a different product with fewer demands placed upon you.

Only you can determine what you want to be doing and what is most important to you. While you say you still are not comfortable with the sales process, is comfort what you are seeking? I know of many people who are “comfortable” who are also unchallenged and bored.

I’ve experienced quite a bit of discomfort over the course of my career. In fact, I’ve been uncomfortable at the start of every new project I’ve taken on. If I had only pursued things within my comfort zone I wouldn’t be writing to you or writing this column, and I would never have attempted many of the things I’ve pushed myself to do in order to reach my dreams and goals.

If you are managing to do well in sales in spite of your “feelings” then perhaps over time as you continue to experience more success you will “feel” better. If you are certain you want to make a move then you should. Just be sure to take with you all of the positive things you have gained from your experience.

Give yourself credit for doing (if only for a year) things that most people are too afraid and too uncomfortable to ever try. That in itself says a lot about you and your potential. Good luck. Let me know what you decide to do.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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