By Peter Gilbert
I recently met a university professor at a dinner party who summed up in one sentence what I call the South African Sales Myth.  His comment?  “Well, with most of my graduates who just scrape through … at least they can get a job in sales.”

The dear professor has a bias, of course, but he was also clearly ignorant of some key facts.  For example, salespeople – professional salespeople – have the highest average compensation level of all university graduates except licensed professionals (i.e., doctors, lawyers, etc.) even if they’re not graduates themselves.  In addition, they live longer than almost all other occupations, are more likely to stay married, have fewer problems with alcohol and other drugs, and are even more likely to raise children free of delinquency, drugs, or emotional problems.  Beyond those healthy statistics, they’re more likely to be active in their communities, churches, and charitable activities.  This is not a bad track record for all of us who … “at least could get a job in sales.”
More and more young people are starting to recognise that, for those who have the talent; sales can be a wonderful and highly lucrative career.  Unfortunately, for those who have no talent, sales can be a bruising and demoralising experience, because in sales, results are very visible and failure is impossible to hide.  The challenge for young people is to figure out whether you have what it takes to succeed in sales and, importantly, in what kind of sales role.  We know of at least 14 kinds of sales role and nobody can be good at all of them.  For example great dealmakers (often called “Hunters”) are often very bad at managing long term customer relationships.  In contrast account managers (often called “Farmers”) are great at building long term relationships, but are generally not great at winning new accounts.  The trick is to find a sales role in which you can succeed.  It is not easy and HR practitioners and professional recruiters find sales positions much more difficult to fill effectively, than, for example, an accountant.
At meta-morphose International we have developed a process for identifying, placing and developing young sales talent.
• Potential candidates are attracted by advertising
• Interested individuals phone a Call Centre, manned by professional sales recruiters, who are looking for fluency, persuasiveness and personality.
• Successful candidates then attend a 1 day assessment event involving team activities, presentations, interviews and written tests. Here we are looking for attitude!!
• Finally, successful applicants write a 1 hour on-line test, that determines what kind of sales role will suit them best.
• These young people are then placed in suitable sales jobs, and meta-morphose provides them with a professional sales coach for 1 year, as well as 9 days of the most innovative and effective sales training.
• After a successful year on the job, these young sales stars receive a diploma in professional selling from The British Institute Of Sales and Marketing Management
94% of these young people succeed in sales.
Peter Gilbert is the managing director of meta-morphose International, a sales recruitment and training company that identifies talented young salespeople, places them and trains and coaches them.