Article courtesy of B2B News Network via “The Rundown”
There’s a funny disconnect I experience every semester: One hundred percent of my Marketing students want to be employed when they graduate (duh). But when I ask them what type of job they hope to land, almost none of them say sales. Why is this a disconnect? Because the very large majority of them will in fact wind up taking a sales position when they graduate.
But they’re not happy about it. When some of them tell me about the job offer they just accepted, they look like they’ve received a prison sentence instead of gainful employment. Apparently my students are typical; young graduates do whatever they can to avoid the dreaded sales position.
A Canadian firm reported in one study that employers were taking an average of 41 days to fill sales positions compared to 33 days for all other jobs.
Why the long faces? Most of these young people equate salespeople with stereotypes like the famous character Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman. Loman (as in “low man” on the totem pole) is a pathetic peddler who leaves home for the road on Monday morning and returns late Friday evening selling “on a smile and a shoeshine.” Or, they think about the sullen retail salespeople they encounter at the mall, and wonder why they need a college degree or an MBA to sell blue jeans to tweens.
Most B2B salespeople will immediately (and correctly) object that this dismal picture applies only to transactional selling, and not to relationship selling that is at the heart of many professional sales jobs. Ironically, Millennials are all about relationships, so they should eagerly rise to the bountiful opportunities that await them: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates job growth of about 3 percent for sales representatives across fields between 2016 and 2026.
Perhaps part of the problem is that the relationships they are about don’t really exist so much in face-to-face encounters as they do onscreen.