Downstream sales skills can be learned on the job, in classes

Houston Chronicle

When it comes to sales in the oil and gas industry, especially for downstream equipment and supplies, many are interested but often do not believe they were born with these skills. Yet, these skills can be learned, either on the job, or in specific classes offered around Houston.

In oil and gas, there are three phases—upstream where the drilling happens, mid-stream where the oil or gas is transported to a processing plant, and down-stream is at a stage in the process of gas or oil being refined to products for customer use.

Some of the products salespeople sell for downstream equipment include a huge array of instrumentation for a processing or chemical plant, software and computers, piping of all sizes, safety equipment, cylinders where the process of refining takes place, and storage containers, etc. If you have the passion for sales, again, sales techniques can be learned. Moreover, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be close to a half a million sales jobs between 2019-2023 and these jobs are in demand.

Also, there is a career path for sales-people.

Usually, the first step in sales is inside sales, which is an entry-level position. “After an inside salesperson achieves a level of success, they’ll often be promoted to a field sales role. The role of an inside salesperson can vary quite a bit. Some are predominantly inbound order takers. It’s not an easy role, but those who excel are often your future sales superstars,” said Keith Wolf, managing director, Murray Resources.

Many equipment and chemical supply companies focus more on specific oil and gas experience, particularly when a more technical sale is involved, and product knowledge is essential.

“Companies might transfer an engineer with deep product knowledge to a sales role if they’ve exhibited some sales aptitude,” Wolf said.

At Murray Resources, they usually have a range of roles, from technical sales roles in the field, to oil and gas services sales, to software salespeople serving the oil and gas markets. The roles range in level from inside sales to salesperson to higher level sales management.

“Successful salespeople in almost any field are paid well, and oil and gas sales are no different. Entry-level salaries may start around $40,000 plus commission, with top performers earning close to six figures within two to four years. As sales-people progress in the field, it’s not un-common to see low $200,000 to mid-six figures for top earners. Companies are willing to pay salespeople who perform. The challenge is fighting through the early years and proving yourself,” Wolf said.

Sales training is valuable, but many companies are looking for a hands-on sales experience. If you’re seeking your first sales role outside your company, make it clear you’re OK starting from the bottom, whether that’s in a sales coordinator role or as an inside salesperson. All you’re looking for is an opportunity to prove yourself. However, in and around Houston there are dozens of different courses and classes offered to train sales people. Start just by searching online “training for sales people.”

Murray Resources is a Houston-based recruiting and staffing firm covering executive, professional, technical, and light industrial roles.