Advice: "I'm a recent grad working for a financial services company. They keep pressuring me to sell to friends and family. What should I do?

Want to submit a question and be featured in our advice column? Click here. (Don't worry, you'll remain completely anonymous).

Dear Quota Team,

“I am a recent college grad in my first year in the workforce. When I was in college, I worked all sorts of jobs – I was a barback at a local pub, worked for a moving company for a bit, and worked as a prep cook at a restaurant. I never really thought much about what I was going to do when I graduated, though my major was in business administration. 

After I graduated, a guy I used to work with (he was a manager at the restaurant job) recruited me to work in sales for a big financial management/insurance company that you’ve probably heard of (I am not going to name it for anonymity). During the recruiting process, they made it seem pretty amazing, and kind of made me feel like royalty which I was definitely not used to in my other jobs lol. 

I accepted the position, but almost immediately, they were on me to reach out to friends, family, and people I went to school with to sell them life insurance and talk to them about financial planning. Not only do most of my friends not have much money yet, but I absolutely hate having to bother people I know to try to sell them something. It feels sleazy and manipulative to me. 

Since taking this job, I’ve been researching other sales roles and it looks like you don’t have to try to sell to friends and family in most of them. And it also seems like most other sales jobs offer a decent salary and benefits. Have I really messed up my career by taking this job, or is there still hope for me to move into another more “normal” sales role? What are the best next steps here? Do I stay for a while and tough it out or try to quit as soon as possible? Thanks for your help. 

Uncomfortable in Connecticut   


Dear Uncomfortable,

We’ve all been there. Well… maybe not all of us, but many of us. When you’re new to the workforce and you’re still trying to figure out what’s what, you might end up in a sales role that’s not what you expected. To be fair, though, there are people who make a great living in those eat-what-you-kill insurance sales roles, as long as they’re willing to stay in them for many many years while they build up their book of business and accrue renewals etc.

In any case, it doesn’t sound like this is going to be you, which is perfectly fine. There are lots of opportunities out there, from software, to medical device sales, to everything in between. The good thing is that you’re so young and so early that you can chart your own course. 

We suggest doing something you didn’t do the first time around: research. Start googling different sales roles, and go deep on articles and message forums that talk about the nuances and pluses and minuses of each one (for SaaS sales, you can check out RepVue). There’s a good chance that one industry will appeal to you above all, and then, it’s just a matter of being persistent enough to get yourself in the door. 

In terms of toughing it out or quitting, there are upsides and downsides either way. On the one hand, you’re not getting a salary and it doesn’t sound like you’re making any money, so it makes a lot of sense to leave and dedicate yourself to the job hunt full time. On the other, hiring managers are (or tend to be) more receptive to applicants who are currently employed. Either way, just make sure you’re ready to hustle to get what you want. In the world of sales, there are no freebies, so be ready to prospect – even if you get to leave your friends and family alone.

You might also like

Everything sales, straight to your inbox.

Sign up for The Quota, a fun, free weekly newsletter for salespeople and sales leaders -- from the people who brought you Sales Humor.

Thanks for subscribing! Just one more step!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.