Many people pursue careers in sales after they graduate from college because of the wide range of opportunities available. It’s also a promising field because of the growth it’s experiencing post-recession. According to Economic Modeling Specialists International, from 2010 to 2012, the U.S. recovered 296,972 sales-related jobs out of 803,118 jobs that were lost from 2008 to 2009. In the next 10 years, the U.S. will fully recover the remaining sales jobs lost during the recession and will add nearly 1 million jobs.
Despite the growth this field is experiencing, many employers are having a hard time finding skilled workers. In fact, a CareerBuilder survey found that 35 percent of sales managers currently have positions for which they can’t find the right candidates. According to separate CareerBuilder research, 38 percent of sales managers say they are experiencing a shortage of skilled labor in their organizations, while 52 percent are worried that the skills workers have don’t match available jobs.
Formal sales education not widely available
Perhaps part of the reason hiring managers are struggling to find qualified candidates is that people aren’t getting a formal sales education. In fact, only 274 colleges and universities offer degrees in sales, according to EMSI. In comparison, 559 colleges and universities offer geology degrees and 1,571 offer psychology degrees, two majors that have fewer job opportunities tied to them.
It’s true that many people begin sales careers without having directly relevant educational backgrounds, because skills are often learned on the job. Yet, gaining these valuable skills in college can only help to better position a worker for a successful career and make him more attractive to hiring managers. In fact, CareerBuilder research found that 50 percent of sales leaders say candidates for entry-level sales jobs are only somewhat prepared or not prepared at all. So those job seekers who come with prior sales training have an edge.
“There is a disconnect between the demand for sales skills in corporate America and the formal training available either through academic institutions or within companies themselves,” says Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America. “Two in five sales representatives don’t have a formal degree in sales, and of those who do, most have a general business administration degree.”
Rasmussen says this problem is compounded by the fact that companies’ sales training budgets are not as robust as they should be. “If companies want to see better top-line growth, there has to be a greater investment in educating sales teams on critical skills on an ongoing basis.”
Workers learn through on-the-job training
The solution for companies is to find cost-effective training programs that can make an impact on their sales team and ultimately on the company’s bottom line. One such solution is Moneyball, a new, comprehensive, cloud-based product for corporate career training and development, created by CareerBuilder and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. The tool is designed to capture the traits and perceived abilities that a salesperson possesses.
Through a detailed assessment program, Moneyball helps sales representatives and their leaders identify the strengths and weaknesses of individual team members to generate a customized development plan for each salesperson. Multiple lessons are offered in 10-minute modules and are accessible anywhere — via PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc. — to accommodate busy schedules.
The 10-minute modules are designed to provide salespeople with advice they can use when working with their customers. Moneyball also measures each sales representative’s performance and determines areas for development based upon the skills identified as most important for reaching goals at the company.
Companies that invest in training programs, such as Moneyball, will help narrow the skills gap and ensure they arm themselves with a highly skilled sales force that will lead their business to greater financial growth.