hiring college grads

How To Hire a Recent College Grad For A Sales Job

3 Things Hiring Managers Need to Know Before Hiring the Latest College Grads

Well, it’s May, and that means it’s graduation season! Hiring managers are eagerly awaiting a fresh crop of new college graduates to fill their sales teams…they need to be prepared to attract the best of the best.

Some of these recent grads have an impressive background in business, marketing, or communications. However, not all recent college graduates are ready to hit the ground running and start building a career in sales. 

To ensure the recent graduate your business hires is truly a top performer, there are three key items that you should always check before hiring them.

Does your candidate have the right drive to succeed?

You simply cannot teach someone to have the “fire in the belly” that will make them a sales superstar…they have it or they don’t.

It’s not just about being passionate. They must also be relentless and dedicated to achieving a high level of success. It’s that persistent and disciplined commitment that makes all the difference in your candidate’s ability to succeed on your sales team.

Ideally, they will also demonstrate the ability to overcome discouragement when progress is slow or not easy. Recent grads must show you they are willing to work hard and be committed to achieving your sales goals.

Do they have the sales skills needed to close deals and successfully fill your pipeline? Do they have the DNA to be successful?  Do they have some skills?

Chances are good unless they went through a preparatory sales training program for their degree, most recent grads will not instinctively know how to sell. 

Sales is a skill – a learnable skill – but to become good at it, they need instruction and practice, and someone willing to help them get better.  

Many recent grads who attempt to sell are met with resistance. That alone can turn them off from a career in sales if they are not prepared for it. 

Although sales isn’t usually taught in business school, unless they’re in a special program…what is taught is how to do business.  The “textbook” version with one or two simulations.  

So while most recent graduates may be great at business, selling is something they don’t have a good handle on.

But the basic skills and personality traits that will lead them to successfully navigate rejection while pushing through their discomfort around selling will be there – if you know how to look for them.

This brings us to our next question…

Are you prepared to spend time and money on them?

If you don’t have the financial and time resources to properly onboard, coach, and train a recent grad for a sales position, they’re going to fail.

While hiring and training a new employee is expensive, you’ll be investing in the success of your company for years to come. If you don’t have the time or money to spend training a new salesperson or account executive, you’ll lose out on the opportunity to build a company with an invaluable asset at the helm. 

Hiring and training a recent grad for a sales role means that you have to commit to providing them with the proper training, guidance, and ongoing support they need.

An example we see often is science and engineering majors who get hired for sales roles but have no experience selling. 

The companies (wrongly) assume since their new hires understand the technical aspects of the job, they’ll magically pick up a sales strategy – any sales strategy – and everything will work out great!

In the end, everyone is surprised, disappointed, and often angry when the relationship doesn’t work out and the science and engineering major fails to sell much of anything….they’re such smart people! How could it go wrong?!

In truth, the company set those science-minded team members up to fail!

Without sales training, and the proper encouragement and support, how are they ever going to learn an effective sales process? We both know an effective process is the key to sales success. Even the smartest engineer would struggle to sell without fully understanding that…and it isn’t something they are taught in their degree: it’s on you to show them!

The worst part may be this: if you hire recent grads with no sales training and you don’t provide it to them, you give them the false belief they have sales experience when they don’t.

They most likely will leave your organization thinking, since they worked in your sales team, they have “sales experience” when all they know is how to hang around, bring donuts and wait patiently for someone to hopefully buy from them while they spend months using their nice personality to make friends.

They move on to the next company, try the same things over again, and get surprised when they never sell much of anything. The process repeats on a loop until they get sick of trying to be in “sales” or they decide to change careers.

It’s a no-win for everyone.

In Conclusion

There’s a lot to consider when hiring a recent college graduate for a sales position with your company, especially when you consider most of them will be Gen Z. Many factors come into play, and it is wise to make a thorough and detailed assessment of your top candidate’s abilities to successfully integrate into your team.

Onboard them properly, support them profusely, and watch them blossom into your ideal sales superstar. With a bit of support from your organization and some sales-specific training, a recent college graduate makes the ideal candidate for your expanding sales team.

If you need help navigating your sales team hiring process (no matter when your ideal candidate graduated college), download our free guide. It’ll help you ask the right interview questions so that you hire the right candidate, the first time.

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