Did Your Salespeople Choose to Be in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 05, 2011 @ 07:01 AM

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."


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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales recruiting, selling, sales candidates, sales career, sales effectiveness, salespeople

A Career in Sales is No Place for a....

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 24, 2008 @ 21:11 PM

If you interview thousands of salespeople like I have, one of the first things you'll learn is that not one of them ever considered sales as a future career when they were in school.  They went to school for engineering, music, computer sciences, geography, history, English, and even accounting.  None of them went to school for Sales.

While mothers who wanted their sons to be doctors and fathers who wanted their daughters to have a career had some influence in their kids' future, today I observed first-hand another of the possible reasons for this phenomenon.

Our local Chamber of Commerce participates in the Schools/Business Partnership, a good cause to which my company contributes each year. Today the Chamber sent an email asking business people to speak at a local high school and discuss the career paths that they took and why their career might be a good choice for the students to pursue.  Here is the list of careers for which they solicited speakers:



  • Accounting/Finance
  • Architecture
  • Art/Music/Film
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Business
  • -Business Administration
  • -Business Management
  • -Business/Hotel/Restaurant Management
  • -Marketing

  • Chemistry
  • Child Development
  • Communications
  • Computer Science
  • Construction Management
  • Criminal Justice
  • Culinary Arts
  • Education
  • -Early Childhood Education
  • -Elementary Education
  • -English
  • Engineering
  • -Computer Engineering
  • - Electrical Engineering
  • Exercise Science
  • Nursing
  • Pharmacy
  • Physician's Assistant
  • Physics
  • Pre-Law
  • Pre-Med
  • Psychology
  • Sports Medicine


I must be losing my vision because regardless of the number of times I looked, I still didn't see Sales on the list.  So here we are, late into 2008, and the profession is still so disrespected that they don't even want to expose high school kids to the opportunity to earn more than most of the careers listed above.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales, sales recruiting, selling, Salesforce, Sales Candidate, sales career, sales compensation, sales profession, salespeople

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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