Recruiting young talent in to Sales - a challenge for the successful future of many companies
Written by Professional Academy Sales Tutor, David Todman
Having recently had the pleasure of attending two Working Knowledge Student Project Days at Chichester and South Downs College, it was apparent that very few Business students were considering Sales as a potential career.
Certainly, Digital Marketing scored more highly, and Finance and HR had a very strong following. It got me thinking - what were the attractions of those routes compared to Sales?
One thing may be the clear career path from basic qualification to senior roles through continuing study in some professions (such as Finance and HR). It is recognised that acquisition of skills and knowledge are needed on an incremental basis so that those in senior positions are aware of all the tools and techniques at their disposal. There is not yet the general perception that professional sales people have similar needs, and there are similar opportunities for progressive training. Because of this, the important factors of status and security are not associated with Sales as a profession.
It seems also, that the reputation of sales stills carries with it the stigma of unrealistic targets and bullying – an outdated impression perpetrated by popular tv programmes which, whilst may be entertaining, do little to enhance the status of Sales as a profession or at least of a role that is valued.
However, the statistics internationally look different. Indeed major investment house Russell Reynolds recently stated ‘Asset manager CEOs are no longer as investment-focused as they once were. Now, the candidates taking on the top jobs in the industry are often coming from leading Sales positions.’
In fact major researchers Spencer Stewart make the picture of the most common career routes for Blue Chip CEO’s very clear - as can be seen from the following graph:
Although Sales loses out to Finance, Operations, and Marketing, at 17% it is a growing area and outstrips many of the other, more traditional options.
So what does Sales in the UK have to do to recruit more young talent?
Firstly it needs to promote some of the fantastic opportunities that exist, for example Apprenticeships - more and more Further Education Colleges are developing excellent programmes in sales-orientated Apprenticeships which are a great attraction for both employers and students . This, allied to the progressive opportunities of gaining a structured qualification through the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management, is a great foundation for an exciting and potentially very rewarding career.
Increasingly employers need a broad-skilled and flexible work force. Sales, with its range of key elements including planning, time management, relationship building, presentation, and confidence development, is a great platform from which to launch a career.
And of course a successful business depends on sales!
If you would be interested in developing your sales skills why not look into an ISMM Sales Qualification with Professional Academy? Not sure what qualification would be right for you? Then you can speak to one of our qualification advisers and ask your questions today.