It’s Only Common Sense: It’s Not a Job; It’s a Career

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No matter what business you’re in, finding and convincing young people to join your sales team is a challenge at best and almost impossible at worst. As the work force ages, so do the number of great salespeople we have; consequently, it is becoming necessary to draw more young people into our honorable profession.

The problem is that many of them are put off by a career in sales because they don’t know enough about it. The media’s Professor Henry Hill straw-hatted-plaid-suited-back-slapping portrayal of a sales guy has not helped to burnish our image either. So, it is up to us to create an appealing, albeit accurate and truthful picture of a career in sales, and what it can really mean for the right person. The right young person, that is.

To do so, we should put ourselves in their shoes and consider what it would take for them to join our ranks. Frankly, if you believe as I do that a career in sales is a great way to spend your working years, this will not be much of a problem. With that in mind, here are 10 tips for successfully finding and recruiting the right young salespeople for your company.

  1. Stop labeling these young people. They are people just like you and me. Let’s stop with the stereotypical categories like “millennials” and “Generations X, Y, and Z.” They are individuals, so let’s treat them as such. Just as we don’t like to be grouped together and brusquely painted with a broad brush of common characteristics, neither do they. Respect the person, regardless of age, and treat him like an adult and he will more likely act like one.
  2. Show them this is not a job, but a career. Show them what they can get out of this job and how this position can be the beginning of a great career that will sustain them for many years to come.
  3. Demonstrate the possibilities. Give them examples of the earning possibilities that come with the job. In most industries, sales positions are often among the best paid.
  4. Sales is a great stepping stone to key management positions. Give the young salespeople real-life examples of people who went on to successful executive positions by starting out in sales. Some surveys estimate that more than 40% of CEOs came out of sales careers.
  5. Show them the money. Give them exact year-by-year examples of what they can earn in just a few years. Point out that how much they earn is entirely up to them. The harder they work, the more they will sell and the more money they will make.
  6. Great salespeople are very creative. If a person is creative in her approach to sales, the more money she stands to make. She can use her imagination during cold calls and customer creation. Every day in sales is different, challenging, and exciting. There is no daily grind here.
  7. Being good at selling is a universal skill that can be applied to every market, from cars and circuit boards to vacuum cleaners and stocks. If you become a great salesperson, you will be able to sell anything.
  8. Show them how they will be able to sell in any industry once they have been properly trained and have experience. Point out that companies will hire for passion and experience because anyone can pick up product knowledge; not everyone can pick up passion.
  9. Stress to them that they are entering a career and like any career they are going to have to keep learning. They are going to have to keep honing their skills through practice, reading the latest business books are articles, and attending sales seminars. The more of this they do, the better salespeople they will be and the more money they will make.
  10. One of the great things that a career in sales provides is independence. You are out there on your own, setting out every single day to make your fortune. Whether you succeed is entirely in your hands. If you want to make more money, look in the mirror and ask yourself for a raise. If you want to work 100 hours a week, you can do that. If you want to make deals at dinner, you can do that. And if you are making your quota, you can work as much or as little as you want. If you make your quota, that is…otherwise, get to work!

And just one more, in the spirit of underpromising and overdelivering. Show the young person the honor of this, the world’s second-oldest profession. Draw from the life stories of some of the most successful men and women in the world who have started out in sales and had successful sales careers. Paint them a clear picture of how a career in sales is a career to be proud of.

It’s only common sense.



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