I have been trying to get involved in my school newspaper, at a university. I made a point of saying I want to be a writer but they put me in sales. Should I tell them I’m not good at sales? I’m an INFJ and I know I won’t be good at selling newspaper ads.

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5 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Another way to think about your situation is to think of your need to get a promotion. That’s really what you’re looking for. The newspaper manager (or whoever hired you) put you into an entry-level job that everyone hates. Like it’s time for you to pay your dues, prove your mettle, etc.

    Instead of thinking about how you will fail at selling ads, think about how to change the job to be something you’ll be good at, and then when you succeed in this role you can ask for a promotion, and in this way you don’t have to complain about the job to get out of it.

    For example, you can think about business models that can start with an ad in the paper. And you can think about creative ways to write ads. Look at the Economist and the NYT Magazine supplements for creative (expensive!) ways to advertise. You can sell those ideas to local businesses for local markets.

    Off the top of my head: someone can launch an MCAT tutoring business just by running great ads in the university newspaper. Someone can run a career coaching business just by running ads. What these people need is help coming up with ads that will work if they are in the paper every week. You would then figure out what the ads should be — so they will successfully grow a local business.

    People who want to work from home don’t know how to launch a business from home – you can show them how to do that by running weekly ads. Maybe in the form of a column they write so that students get to know them. Then when students need the service (social work, career counseling, a summer internship, language bootcamp, weight loss, whatever) they will think of this person who is familiar to them.

    You can sell this stuff and you can sell ten-ad packages. You can also sell extra services — like copy writing for a paid column (the Economist does this for developing countries) or you could sell your knowledge about knowing how to target students (there are companies that all they do is tell small businesses how to target college students.) You could sell ads by giving people the insight they need to feel confident that they can say things that will make students buy.

    Think of yourself as a business consultant (“I help you grow your business:) rather than ad sales.

    Penelope

  2. Ellen
    Ellen says:

    As a fellow INFJ, I would also note that you’re probably underestimating your ability to be good at sales. I was put into sales roles at various times, much to my chagrin, and I was surprised to find how much I excelled at it (while disliking it at the same time.) It’s because we can read people so well.

  3. Shawn
    Shawn says:

    I am an INFJ in a sales role. I agree with Penelope. I am most successful when I focus on working to make my customers successful. I lose interest if I think too much about meeting sales targets.

  4. Poppy
    Poppy says:

    What an amazing response, Penelope.

    I’m an INFJ as well. What bothers me about selling is my fear of annoying people, because I put myself in their place and I don’t want to make them feel bad. But if I frame it as a way to figure out what people want and then giving it to them, I can see myself as someone who helps and not as someone who annoys, which makes me feel more comfortable and fits better with the way I want to see myself.

    Basically, the same that P. told you. My two cents, anyway. Good luck!

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