8 years ago
January 29, 2016

Combat Millennials’ Inherent Stigma When It Comes to a Sales Career

Sales recruiting firms are constantly on the hunt for the best and brightest talent to put on a sales career path. Why are millennials hesitant when it comes to sales?

Rhys Metler


Sales recruiting firms are constantly on the hunt for the best and brightest talent to put on a sales career path. In today’s mobile, fast-paced world though the fact of the matter is a lot of young workers simply don’t want a sales career. According to a recent piece from Fortune.com, this has a great deal to do with long-time stigmas and stereotypes that many Millennials attach to the profession.

“When I was in college in the ’80s, there was such a stigma attached to any kind of sales job, applying for one was considered a last resort. It was what you did if nothing else worked out,” said Eliot Burdett, CEO of the headhunting firm Peak Sales Recruiting. “Unfortunately, and unfairly, that hasn’t changed much. 

Burdett places a lot of the blame on the usual suspects, such as Hollywood and television for consistently portraying salespeople as greedy jerks and the idea that many people believe it’s a skill you’re either born with or not.

Hiring for Sales

Employers spend an average of 41 days trying to fill technical sales roles, versus 33 days for jobs in other professions that call for similar skills, according to a recent study from the Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project. That’s a significant amount of time and you better hope you’re right. When it comes to a sales career position a hiring mistake can cost up to 10 times the person’s salary.

“This is why employee-referral programs work so well,” Burdett said. “You need young people who are thriving in the field to reach out to other people their age. Someone the candidate’s own age who is happy with their work, and successful at it, is your most convincing spokesperson.”

At its core, selling is a social business that relies on strong communication skills of all kinds. There are many aspects of a sales career Millennials tend to prefer and should be the focus of a recruiting pitch: opportunity for travel, telecommuting (working from home), and making a real impact with the product they’ll be selling to name a few.

Another important point Burdett brings up is the fact that Millennials are the first generation since essentially the Great Depression to enter the workforce in the midst of a financial crisis. They’re the first generation worse off than their parents, financially, on average.

Because of this they tend to favour stability over the volatility a commission-based sales career usually entails, which is why many companies are moving towards raising base salaries and softening commission standards.

Of course, if you need fresh young talent make sure you’re constantly going to schools and universities to try and grab them before they enter into another industry. To save yourself the time, money, and effort needed to effectively recruit new salespeople, partner with a sales recruitment firm.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.