Why graduates make great sales people – and how to attract them

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Graduates are staples of any growing economy, introducing new ideas, fresh perspectives and energy into businesses every year. It’s always good to have a mix of people in your sales team, from the more senior professionals with lots of knowledge and experience, to the reliable solid performers and the new perspective and fresh ideas a graduate can bring.

For sales managers, the impact of hiring graduates can be greater than you think. And with the UK’s top employers planning to increase their graduate recruitment by 4.3% this year, it’s clear that organisations are wising up to the value of hiring fresh new talent into the team. So what are you doing to bring in and nurture people who show sales potential?

Why you need to hire graduates on your sales team

With youth, enthusiasm and optimism on their side, graduates have an eagerness that may not be present in more senior sales professionals. This makes them ideal for chasing new business. While established sales people can turn their nose up at hitting the phones to secure new leads, fresh graduates can approach this task with vigour and drive. All it takes is the right support and training from their managers to help them channel their fresh approach to genuine leads.

The enthusiasm graduates portray can also help to boost team spirit. Studies show that employers find graduates are more enthusiastic, innovative and motivated than non-graduates, and this vitality can be priceless to the wider organisation. Their fresh perspective and ideas can help to inject healthy competition into the team environment, bringing newfound passion to a group which may have otherwise been struggling for motivation. After all, those longstanding sales stalwarts aren’t always benefiting your business as much as you may think – teams can grow stale, become too comfortable in their roles and develop cliques, so new talent can be just what’s needed to shake things up.

Hiring graduates is not only beneficial for injecting short-term enthusiasm to a sales team, but they also offer long-term potential. The ageing workforce is a significant concern for the economy, with one Business in the Community report predicting an upcoming UK recruitment black hole of 7.5 million. Sales teams should look to attract and recruit fresh talent now in order to prepare for this in the future. Start by hosting a sales-focused assessment day to identify people who show an aptitude for sales and possess the qualities you’re looking for. Provide successful candidates with tailored training programmes and support to help them become your sales stars of the future. Pay special attention to those graduates who can build customer rapport and quality and close deals. 

How can you recruit and retain top graduate sales talent?

As with any sales position, money matters for graduates. Make sure the competitive salary you offer is just that – competitive – and you’re offering additional incentives to help attract the right people. This can include a decent commission scheme, company benefits or flexible work opportunities.

While a good base salary is important, it’s not the only thing graduates are looking for. Just shy of 59% of 2015 graduates said they would rather work in an organisation with a positive social atmosphere and a lower salary than the reverse, which shows the increasing importance young people are placing on company culture. Sales is hard work so you need to keep your graduates motivated to hit targets. As this will be their first ‘real’ job, this new breed of sales talent will naturally be excited and want to work in a positive social environment where the culture is fun. If you have a great company culture, promote it! Any social activities you take part in as a business, charity work or sports teams should all be advertised to graduates who are looking for a little something extra from their employer.

It’s not just the starting salary and culture that graduates are looking for. Career development and progression are high on the agenda too. A 2015 report revealed that 84% of UK graduates expect their first employer to provide formal training, yet more than a quarter of graduates do not receive that in their new position. Make no mistake – graduates are ambitious, keen to learn and interested in their career development. Take advantage of this hunger by offering dedicated training and regular performance reviews and you might be rewarded with talented graduates who emerge into future sales stars.

As the workplace continues to age and the economy expands, it’s only natural that you’ll need to bring in new people to boost your sales team. Follow our steps to ensure you’re hiring –and retaining – the right graduates and you’re well on your way to a successful sales future.

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