The Official Blog of 365º Total Marketing

How to become a sales professional

When Nelson Smith, Sales Manager for 365° Total Marketing, started out, a career in sales was the furthest thing from his mind. A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, and graduate of the University of Georgia, Nelson majored in mass communications and had a keen interest in photography. It was his passion for photography that led to his career in sales.

Living in Atlanta and looking to break into the photography scene, Nelson explored an opportunity with Wolf Camera, a national retailer of photography equipment. He worked his way up to becoming a product analyst, which involved intensive contact not only with the product, but also Wolf’s stores and customers. Already a “people person,” Nelson found it rewarding to build these relationships.

An unexpected American tragedy led to an unexpected career change for Nelson. The aftermath of 9/11 left many wondering what to do. For Wolf Camera, the answer was to close their business nationwide.

Sitting at home in Cumming, Georgia (northeast of Atlanta), Nelson began looking for something new. “These were the days when you scoured the Want Ads in the newspaper,” Nelson said. “So, I have my red pen and I’m circling different job openings when I see one for the Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce. I had no idea what a Chamber of Commerce did, but the job was where I was living, so I thought, ‘why not?’”

Nelson became the Director of Membership for the Forsyth County Chamber. “It was essentially sales,” Nelson said. The job of recruiting members to join the Chamber was a natural for Nelson. And it was there that he became aware of 365° Total Marketing.

365° publishes magazines for dozens of chambers of commerce. Forsyth County Chamber was on that list. Over several years, Nelson became friends with the 365° sales rep assigned to Forsyth County Chamber. One day, Linda Mosely, CEO of 365°, was visiting the Forsyth County Chamber and mentioned to her sales rep that she was looking for someone to expand the territory. “I think I have just the guy,” she told Linda.

An initial interview led Nelson to 365° headquarters in St. Simons Island, Georgia, to spend time with Linda and her husband, and partner, Mark Mosely. Fifteen years later, Nelson continues to thrive at 365°.

So, how do you become a sales professional? Nelson has several tips that he regularly shares with his sales team:

Improve on what they have

“If you enjoy every day being different,” Nelson said, “then you will love sales.” He has the opportunity to meet a variety of people in a wide range of industries. It may be an established business or a start-up. “I’ve met with businesses who have no website, no social media presence, no direct mail experience, and no idea how to promote their business,” he said. A sales professional starts with where the business is and helps them improve on what they have, Nelson said.

Bring possibility to life

“It’s a question of marketability,” Nelson said. “Every business in every industry has something special to offer to the public. I’m there to bring possibility to life.”

Never judge a book by its cover

Nelson recalled a seminal moment in his early days with 365°. “I had an appointment with an HVAC company to talk about placing an advertisement in one of our magazines,” he said. He arrived at the address and found himself “far from civilization” at a farmhouse surrounded by dogs. He wondered what he had gotten himself into. Nelson was taken into the kitchen, where the husband, wife, and dogs entertained him and talked about placing an ad. “They bought a full page,” Nelson remembers. “I knew right then to never judge a book by its cover.”

Have fun at work

For Nelson, work doesn’t have to be drudgery. Instead, each day can lead to fun. “I meet so many great people and learn about what they’re doing. It’s fun,” he said.

Enthusiasm leads to success

“When you approach your day with enthusiasm, with energy, it always leads to success as a sales professional,” Nelson said.

Listen more than you speak

“When I’m talking, I’m not really learning,” Nelson said. “When I listen to the customer, I learn about their passions, their worldview, and what it is they want to accomplish.” He added, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.”

Think before you speak

“Take a moment. Think. When you come at things from a positive direction, you can easily spin back a negative response,” Nelson said.

Leave a good feeling

“At the end of the conversation,” Nelson said,” everyone should feel good.” It’s more than a win-win. It is the start of, or continuation of, a relationship of mutual respect and support. “That good feeling will carry you a long way.”

Ready to give your business maximum exposure? Through magazines, websites, brochures, promotional products and more, 365° Total Marketing shares your products and services with the world.

To learn more, contact or call 800-697-5568.