Raising The Profile Of Selling As A Career

The demand for highly qualified sales people - such as those with degrees in engineering, economics and the sciences - is constantly increasing. In many companies, however, it continues to be difficult to attract appropriate applicants for sales posts. Selling is so unpopular in the minds of this target group, whereas its sister discipline, marketing, appears to be very popular. What can be done to change this?

In the experience of many HR and Personnel Managers, academically trained applicants often only accept sales positions as a stopping-off place or as a necessary evil on their way to the top.

Add to this the attitude that a great many university graduates have towards selling, which is based on extreme clichés more suited to the last century rather than today’s business reality. In too many graduates' minds a career in sales is equated with hard selling, haggling, pestering people, “forcing” products on them, etc. No wonder it can be hard to attract highly qualified people into sales positions!

Obviously, many of those at university have not heard about problem-oriented, advice-intensive consultative selling; strategic selling approaches and the need to create long-term relationships with the client. It does not seem to be acknowledged at universities either that key account managers are responsible for umpteen million £’s of business in the UK every year.

So what can be done to make sales more palatable as a career choice for those with academic qualifications? We suggest four things that companies can do:

1. Show applicants the career possibilities in sales. This includes the widely underestimated financial side. If possible, show that they will have the opportunity to move up into sales management positions.

2. Emphasise your company’s marketing competence and clarify the strategic status that sales plays in this.

3. Dispel the age-old clichés about sales. The simplest way to do this is by allowing your current sales people (as many of the university trained ones you employ as possible) to take part in your recruitment workshops or interviews.

4. Graduates are often very interested in personal development. Tell them about the wide range of skills required for success as a professional sales person and how they will develop these with the various training opportunities you provide.

Only by tackling the current poor perception of selling and ensuring it is seen as the professional and skilled job it is, will those with the academic qualifications companies need be attracted to take up a career in sales.

If you would like help in setting up a sales training programme for your graduates then why simply give us a call on 01608 644144.