Navigating the College-to-Career Pipeline: Sales Edition
There are over 14 million sales professionals in the U.S. today, yet only 3% of colleges and universities offer any type of sales course. So, without any formal education on this career, how do so many people end up in sales? While I can’t speak for all 14 million, I do have experience in hiring and managing hundreds of sales professionals. What I’ve realized is that the commonalities for how and why people choose a sales career are striking.
1. "Someone told me I'd be great at it."
It's common belief that charismatic, outgoing, life-of-the-party type individuals are always fit for a sales role (which I don't necessarily agree with). If your DNA matches these traits, there's a chance that someone along the way has asked, "Have you ever thought about sales?" (The aunt or uncle in the family tend to push this hard). And because your own career goals were uncertain at the time, sales was added to the mix.
2. "It's one of the few roles where employers hire without experience."
Graduating college and moving to a new city is a costly endeavor. Quarter beer nights and cheap rent no longer exist, and the $252 in your bank account doesn't go as far as it once did. Factor that in with the average student loan debt for the Class of 2016 being $30,000+ (the highest ever), and you quickly go into survival mode. You realize that the jobs you want are few and far between, and that sales roles are plentiful. So, like many people (including myself, circa 2006), you explore this career path looking for a job to afford your new lifestyle.
3. "I love working with people."
"I'm a people person," “I’m outgoing,” and “I love to help others” are phrases I’ve heard way too many times. In fact, they inherently make you think that sales is a potential fit. Now, you do deal with people, so you’re on the right track. But when you start, you realize that it’s a just a little more challenging than that!
While there are certainly other reasons why people pursue sales, these are some of the most common I’ve heard. Imagine if every single one of the individuals above had access to the proper sales training prior to being thrown into the mix? The results would be pretty remarkable. Now, I can’t promise you that pursuing a career in sales will be easy. But, I can promise you that doing sales is not only meaningful, but it will bring you one step closer to personal, professional, and financial success.