According to a recent CNBC report, nearly 40 percent of this year’s college graduates aren’t confident they can pay off their student loan debt within 10 years. And, while the U.S. unemployment rate is unusually low, the report cites a worrying statistic from the National Association of Colleges and Employers: “Employers plan to hire 1.3 percent fewer graduates from Class of 2018 than they did from Class of 2017.” Meanwhile, wages are increasing only slightly.
Many new graduates, then, may find themselves with fewer job interviews than they’d like, and getting offers at lower salaries than they desire, with a decade of paying down on debt in their futures. Welcome back to your parents’ basement, new grads!
CSO Insights Independent Research Director Barry Trailer has a suggestion for anyone just joining the work force who may be wondering what to do next: Expand your job search. In his white paper, There’s Never Been a Better Time to be in Sales, he writes, “If your daughter or son has just completed an expensive degree in Renaissance Studies, and now they’re working part-time at Starbucks, you might want to call their attention to the fact that the world is changing. And the world of sales is hiring. Not just STEM majors, but others with lateral and critical thinking abilities. Not fast talkers, but fast thinkers.”
This represents a new trend in sales, and it’s one worth noting. As part of its ongoing sales research, CSO Insights surveyed 900 members of the sales profession to understand how they see the job. Participants were asked if they would recommend sales as a career to young adults considering their future. Eighty-five percent of those surveyed said that yes, they would recommend sales as a profession.
Why are so many salespeople optimistic about careers in sales? Here are seven good reasons that emerged from the survey:
- The work is varied and satisfying. Sales challenges keep it interesting, and closing deals offers the same kind of thrill as winning in sports.
- Opportunities for continuous learning and self-development are available through sales training and the mastery of sales methodologies. For example, even people who have great interpersonal skills will find that selling strengthens and sharpens those skills.
- It’s a career with a future. Survey respondents noted the ongoing changes in sales that are driven by technology and changing buyer behavior, but they see themselves evolving and adapting as the role changes.
- It’s a great job for the right person. “The right person” has nothing to do with stereotypes about salespeople being extroverts. It does mean liking people, being self-motivated, and finding it satisfying to solve problems.
- You can earn more by putting in more effort. One salesperson in the survey wrote, “The sky is the limit. Hustle and be rewarded.”
- You can control your own destiny. In addition to being able to earn more by working harder, salespeople typically have a lot of control over how they spend their time, and they can plan their own schedules.
- A sales job is great preparation for another career. This may be of particular interest to young people who have a dream job in mind but, lacking work experience, have not been able to find an entry point. The research analysts at CSO Insights find – in their interactions with people in many distinct roles – that business managers, trainers, executives, marketers, technical specialists and even college professors often have backgrounds in sales, and they are quick to acknowledge that they acquired transferable skills in their sales roles.
But wait, aren’t sales jobs going away? As Mark Twain said, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Let’s make a distinction between retail sales jobs and business-to-business (B2B) sales. Store closings, online shopping and automation are shrinking the number of jobs in retail sales. When we talk about the sales profession, we’re talking about B2B sales.
Professional sales is, as we noted above, a career with a future – and for new grads seeking jobs now, it’s very much a career with a present. A generation ago, it was part of popular culture to present salespeople in an unflattering light, with the “used car salesman” offering a convenient meme for all that was shady in the marketplace.
Today, salespeople are viewed much like entrepreneurs: resourceful, independent, and attuned to the risks and rewards of a life in business. The global economy needs sales professionals; in fact, there’s never been a better time to be in sales. Download the white paper here.