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Q: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   12 Comments )
Subject: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
Category: Business and Money > Employment
Asked by: nronronronro-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 16 Jan 2004 16:32 PST
Expires: 15 Feb 2004 16:32 PST
Question ID: 297270
Hi There !

I have a number of unpaid 22-year-old interns who would do very well
in sales.  But they have such a negative opinion of the field, they
won't even consider it.

Meanwhile, they are "holding out" for the perfect job with lots of
money and prestige----the job they will probably never get.

How can I get these young people to have a more realistic view of
their qualifications, and the jobs which are actually open to them?

I can't seem to get through... 

A 5-star answer would be 2 ways to get them to see their job prospects
objectively plus 1 way to have them at least consider alternatives
(like sales).

I only need 1-2 paragraphs.  No web sites or other sources needed. 
Just your opinion.

All comments greatly appreciated.


Request for Question Clarification by pinkfreud-ga on 16 Jan 2004 16:38 PST
Hi, Ron!

I presume that these starry-eyed young folks have bachelors' degrees. 

In what field did most of them major? Job prospects for someone with
an engineering major differ greatly than prospects for someone whose
major was in liberal arts.

Clarification of Question by nronronronro-ga on 16 Jan 2004 17:11 PST
Hi Pink !

Yes, they are all recent graduates.

As for degrees, they run the gamut from Business Administration to English.
They take our unpaid internship to get a foot-in-the-door to Wall  Street.

Unfortunately, they all think a private jet and CEO job will magically
appear for them on their 23rd birthday.

They are all good people.  But very much in need of a reality check.
Some are prima donnas----some just don't know yet.

If I could demonstrate that the CEO's job is more than 12 months away,
I could save them much future pain...and probably make them more
productive right now, too.


Request for Question Clarification by pinkfreud-ga on 16 Jan 2004 17:33 PST

I'm off for the night. I hope your question will appeal to a
Researcher with current experience in the business world (which I

Good luck with the prima donnas. Hope none of 'em are pre-Madonnas (in
the sense of the singer, not the Blessed Virgin).


Clarification of Question by nronronronro-ga on 16 Jan 2004 20:35 PST

heh  heh  heh

Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
Answered By: taxmama-ga on 23 Jan 2004 05:01 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear Ron,

While I am totally enjoying tarheels jibes, 
none of that will get through to your kids. 
At least not to prima donnas. I've often found they don't
have a sense of humor where they themselves are concerned.

Here are some things you can try to explain to them.

While most college degree programs appear to groom 
you for CEO-hood, when you get out of school, most
jobs, even the well-paying ones, are at entry-level. 

The fastest track to the boardroom is, in fact, through sales.
By joining the company's sales force, you get into the field
and learn firsthand what the customers and clients of the 
company want, need and aren't getting. 

That's where you're going to learn about infrastructure problems -
like the order desk, shipping, customer service. If a customer has
a complaint, the salesforce is often the first to hear it. 

It's from this level that you can identify problems and suggest
improvements. Talk about being able to shine!

This is also an excellent way to make contacts. Many folks
doing a good job selling for a company have been hired by the
customer companies. It's almost like getting paid to go on job

Besides, as far as compensation, people who are do a good job in
sales often make more than most other employees in the company.
With the commissions, bonuses, and reimbursements, you can make a

Being in sales is also a great way to overcome shyness. You walk
into a place with something specific to say. You don't need to 
fumble for words. (Just don't repeat your memorized pitch word
for word. Sounding like a robot gets you nowhere.)

And talk about dating. Amazing source of great dates. You get to 
become acquainted with so many people and see what they're really
like before asking them out or accepting their invitation. In fact, 
in the guise of a sales meeting, you can go out to lunch or dinner, 
on the company, so it's all arms-length, until you decide to take 
it further. 

Another very similar area to sales is market research. I used to do
marketing research surveys for JD Powers waaaaay back when they were
tiny. It was a bit of a challenge to get executives to give me "5 minutes
of their time". But once in the door, they would invite me to stay and 
finish my 1-2 hours survey, because we were having fun together. I got
many job offers and marriage proposals in those few months. Alas, I was
already married, and still wanting to finish college. 

One more note about sales - it comes in many forms. It's not all beating
the pavement. Sales can be done by phone, by mail and by e-mail. You can
sell people (headhunting, employment agencies), you can sell services
(think brokerages, consulting, software [Oracle, IBM),pest control), or
things (real estate, paper,electronics,pork bellies, films). 

I have been doing tax returns and business consulting for over 20+ years.
Consistently, my highest earning clients have been those in sales. 
Generally, they earn well over $150K, while most people with jobs are
closer to $100K or less. The only exception? Freelance programmers or
MIS-type project managers - they generally earn as much as the best 

One last note about sales - no matter what job you end up doing, you 
will have to learn to sell. You must sell yourself to your boss and
to your peers. You will have to learn to sell your project. You will
have to learn to sell your point of view. You will have to learn to 
sell your idea. If you can't express yourself, or are too timid to 
speak up - someone else will get the promotions. And oh yes, spending
time in the field can be very humbling. You will learn a great deal 
about yourself. It will take some of the more unpleasant edges off your

Remember, just because you can be aggressive and pushy, doesn't always
mean you should be. Sometimes, being subtle, quiet and kind - and 
listenting - is the best way to achieve your goal. 
[For a great book on this subject - The Assertive Woman 
by Stanlee Phelps and Nancy Austin ]

I know this is more than a paragraph - but getting out there in the
field really helped a very shy young girl find herself. 

Best wishes

Your TaxMama-ga

Clarification of Answer by taxmama-ga on 27 Jan 2004 05:15 PST
Hi Ron, 

Thanks so much for your kind comments. 

Incidentally, that book, The Assertive Woman, 
is one your men might want to read, too. 
I've met many young men who could use the
advice Stanlee and Nancy provide. 

Good luck with your project. 

Best wishes

Your TaxMama-ga
nronronronro-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Zowie, taxmama !  Great answer.

I appreciate the wisdom in your comments,
My young female interns will probably appreciate it even more.

Thank you.  Terrific !!

Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: pinkfreud-ga on 16 Jan 2004 16:41 PST
This is the first thing that came to mind when I read your question:

The most important phrase that should be learned by new college
graduates without specific skills is "Would you like fries with that?"
Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: tar_heel_v-ga on 16 Jan 2004 20:50 PST
As a sales professional for the last 12 years, I could provide many
personal anecdotes as to why the sales field is the stepping stone for
the majority of the CEO's that are out there and why sales is a
fabulous field.  There are 11 things that kids should know before
leaving school.  The following is often attributed to Bill Gates,
however, it is in fact an excerpt from a book "Dumbing Down Our Kids"
by Charles Sykes.  Tell 'em it is from Bill, though.  Will make more
of an impression:

Rule 1: Life is not fair; get used to it.

Rule 2: The world doesn't care about your self-esteem. The world
expects you to accomplish something before you feel good about

Rule 3: You will not make $40,000 a year right out of high school. You
won't be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.
He doesn't have tenure.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your
grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine
about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they
are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your
clothes, and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before
you save the rainforest from the parasites of your parents'
generation, try "delousing" the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but
life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they
give you as many chances as you need to get the right answer. This
doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You do not get summers off
and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do
that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is not real life. In real life people actually
have to leave the coffee shop and go get jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds, chances are good you'll end up working for one someday.
Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: omnivorous-ga on 17 Jan 2004 05:24 PST
Ron --

Rather than telling the kids how life is -- which they'll have a
strong resistance to hearing -- my suggestion is two-fold:
*  show them how selling is a skill that we all do.  Even a teacher
must "sell" the idea that this homework is relevant and important to a
students' future.
*  expose them, perhaps through job-following, to what a professional
sales person does.  Someone in business-to-business sales perhaps has
the broadest range of experiences to share.

A good book for understanding why sales is the critical element in
companies' success is Harvey Mackay's "Swim with the Sharks Without
Being Eaten Alive," which is the funniest book of details that I've
ever read:

Finally, be prepared for those who believe that the world has changed
and sales is less relevant in an Internet world.  Pick your biography
of Bill Gates: you'll find that he says "we were spinning our wheels
until we brought in someone with serious sales experience," referring
to hiring Steve Ballmer and building a professional sales group.

Best regards,

Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: omnivorous-ga on 17 Jan 2004 05:33 PST
Ron --

I can't avoid the Google search strategy.  Company policy, you know!
Have your interns do a search for you using the phrase:
"nothing happens until"

Just another tool.

Best regards,

Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: nronronronro-ga on 18 Jan 2004 01:30 PST
Mr. Tar Heel,

Loved your list!  Especially this one:  "...very few employers are
interested in helping you find yourself."   heh  heh  heh   That fact
would come as a great surprise to my young interns.

I'll e-mail this to them, and then solicit their thoughts.

Thanks !
Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: nronronronro-ga on 18 Jan 2004 01:39 PST

Thanks for your insightful comments.  This one really struck home...

"Rather than telling the kids how life is -- which they'll have a
strong resistance to hearing -- my suggestion is..."

This is completely accurate.  It almost seems like the more hard data
we provide these young people, the more they "tune out"----as if we
discussing careers on another planet.  When I relayed, "There are no
shortcuts.  To be more successful than your peers, you will need to
work harder
and longer over a period of years"----they rolled their eyes and said,
"Not me.  I won't have to do that."   Ha !

I have Harvey Mackay's books, and will point them in that direction. 
Terrific idea, Omnivorous.  Thanks a million !

Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: omnivorous-ga on 19 Jan 2004 19:55 PST
Ron --

Yet another idea occurred to me: assign the interns to do some
research on the Fortune 100/500/1000 CEOs.  The question:
"Looking at their resumes, how many spent more than 1 year selling?"

My best guess from years of professional experience is that the number
will be 75% or higher.  The current CEO of Microsoft is a sales guy,
even if he was an obnoxious one.

Best regards,

Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: nronronronro-ga on 19 Jan 2004 22:06 PST
Alas, omnivorous, all of us who idolize Mr. Balmer's sales abilities
are similarly obnoxious.  :-)

But your point concerning Fortune 1000 CEO's is excellent.  I will
lsearch for the data-----I know the number who have advanced through
sales is higher than 20 years ago.

Thank you !
Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: angy-ga on 19 Jan 2004 22:27 PST
The problem is we've all met and dealt with obnoxious or dumb sales
people - the one's who weren't like that we think of as "friendly,
helpful people who knew about the product we were interested in".

The word "sales" relates to the guy on the phone trying to sell me
toner from a telemarketing boiler room, the car salesman who is really
trying to sell a finance package, and the computer salesman who
doesn't know the first thing about graphics accelerator cards.

How would your guys relate to the concept of "customer service"
instead ? High quality customer service - eg: listening to the client
- often results in a sale - but hey, it's not being a sales person, is
it ?
Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: nronronronro-ga on 19 Jan 2004 22:40 PST
Thanks, angy, for your comment.

While this is slightly off topic, please let me offer my opinion: 
most people will not pay for "customer service"-----but they will
(through the merchant) pay for "sales."

Just my two cents worth----I know there are many contrary opinions.

Thanks again, angy, for taking the time...
Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: hammer-ga on 20 Jan 2004 08:29 PST
In my experience, the main job of CEO's and high-level VP's is Sales.
The big money important sales and accounts are worked by the sales
reps but they are closed by the executives. If you can't close the big
sale, if you can't sell the company, if you don't know how get the
customer to sign on the dotted line between the main course and the
after-dinner drinks, then you can kiss that executive position
goodbye. Assuming of course that you managed to get one in the first
place without proving you can bring in the bucks. Executives don't
play golf to entertain clients, they play golf to *sell* clients.

- Hammer
Subject: Re: Sales --- Getting Young People Interested
From: nronronronro-ga on 22 Jan 2004 19:23 PST
Thanks, hammer.

I think you are right on the money !


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