Even if you reviewed as many resumes as I do each week you might not notice this: Most sales candidates did not have a sales position as their first job after college. Most started as something else and then, out of the blue, they were in sales, sales management, marketing, or business development. I always get suspicious when somewhere back in time a candidate went from Purchasing to Sales Management and never sold along the way...
So what happened? Did they think salespeople had a more exciting life/role and wish to become one? Were they given ultimatums to accept commission sales positions as a way of keeping their jobs during a recession? Did they lose a job in their chosen profession and then take a sales position out of desperation?
Of more interest is why, after the transition, they remained in sales...After all, only a small percentage (26%) of them are reasonably good at it.
The small percentage of people who chose sales as a career (if I had a resume, it would show sales as the first position but it was less a matter of choosing and more a realization that I wasn't qualified to do anything else!) aren't any more successful than those who didn't.
Let's conduct an informal poll/exercise. After reading this, ask your most effective and least effective salespeople if they chose sales as a career or simply ended up in a sales career. Then report your findings by commenting below. We would be very interested in your findings!
Your comments might read something like:
"Our most effective salesperson was forced into sales 10 years ago. Our least effective salesperson started in sales 20 years ago because it was the only job he could get."