Bringing Sexy Back: How can corporate recruiters better convey the benefits of sales experience to millennials?
Demand for junior salespeople has never been higher. Yet despite the generous compensation and rapid career advancement sales positions offer, too few millennials are heeding the call to action. Why do millennials shun sales roles and how might corporate recruiters adjust their tactics?
If you are a hiring manager struggling to fill junior-level sales positions, you are not alone. Earlier this summer, staffing giant Manpower released its Annual Talent Survey, in which managers and recruiters listed Sales Representative as the third hardest job to fill in America. A similarly-themed survey by jobs site CareerBuilder reported that 35% of sales managers could not find enough qualified candidates to fill open sales positions. Many of America’s most successful companies are finding their growth inhibited not by poor products or services, but a lack of young people willing to sell those offerings.
Not surprisingly, the dearth of young sales candidates has ignited a bidding war for those precious few millennials interested in these roles. At high-growth and mature companies alike, junior salespeople are typically among the best-compensated in their peer group, with total pay often reaching six figures within three years. Opportunities for promotion are equally compelling, with top performers routinely landing closing roles within two years. Finally, salespeople build a highly-transferrable skillset that is increasingly seen as a prerequisite for c-suite positions in both blue-chip and startup America.
Why don’t millennials want to sell?
This begs the question: why the disconnect between the benefits provided by sales roles and young professionals’ lack of interest in these roles? Much to hiring managers’ chagrin, experts have yet to find a definitive answer. Some individuals cite the increasingly technical nature of many sales jobs, while others blame the lack of sales classes taught in colleges and the painful job cuts the sale profession sustained during the 2008 economic downturn. It is a frustrating, if not dangerous, status quo for companies seeking to grow their top line.
Our findings: an unfortunate stereotype
At LifeGuides.me, our conversations with young sales professionals suggest a more elemental answer: the sales profession has yet to fully shake its misguided stereotype as a world populated by charlatans whose success comes at the expense of clients’ wellbeing. As one successful sales professional recently told us, “I don’t like the stigma associated with [my industry]. People see us as sleazy salespeople. I had the same stigma before getting into this industry, so I understand it, but that doesn’t mean I like it!”
Today, that same professional could not be happier with her role at a well-regarded financial services company, and she is not alone. Without exception, every young salesperson with whom we spoke made a point to mention how the realities of junior-level sales positions bare almost no resemblance to the outdated “boiler room” tactics popular in the media.
Flipping the script
In summary, our research implies that hiring managers frame their sales opportunities in the context of a dignified career path, as opposed to the traditional carrots of above-average pay and promotional opportunities. Are millennials motivated by monetary gain? Of course, but for young people used to throwing their digital weight behind causes in which they believe, a fat paycheck simply may not be enough. By framing opportunities in this context, perhaps the sales profession can finally push its unfortunate cliché out of millennials’ collective consciousness and into the annals of history, where it belongs.
Matthew McDonnell the Head of Content at LifeGuides.me, a website that helps job seekers learn about career opportunities and connect with corporate recruiters. Matthew joined LifeGuides in 2014 after graduating from the Harvard Business School with the company’s founder, Phil Strazzulla. If you are a company interested in using LifeGuides to augment your recruiting efforts and build your brand, please contact Matt at http://www.lifeguides.me/companies.