As a member of this elite group I thought it might be time to voice a slightly prejudiced opinion on the subject. I have always, and am currently; self training, putting in long days, and I always become the “go-to” guy for answers and solutions. I am a highly competitive sales producer and wrap my arms around the latest in technologies and offerings to help me win. So why is there hesitancy to hire a senior sales professional? Isn’t this the prerequisite of the ideal candidate typically? Am I so different? Are you?
Myth #1 – Salary will be too high
Not necessarily – After selling my business I found myself searching for employment at 40+. I worked at finding employment as if working a full-time position. I was turned down many times. Finally at a career fair I cornered one of the HR personnel I had tried to hire with and asked why I was never given a chance to interview with their company. The answer… They felt I would not work for their wages with my “experience” (i.e. age and background). I told them that they might want to re-think that policy.
Weeks later I was hired with Inter-Tel at a slightly lower wage than hoped for but growth opportunities desired. A short while into this career move it became evident to Inter-Tel’s management that I was a great hire and they have publicly said as much. I have been promoted many times since then in highly technical positions. A win-win solution for both.
Myth #2 – Won’t relate to younger sales professionals and customers
At the initial meet possibly… But as a younger professional team member or customer gets to know me, my skills, my knowledge base, that changes immediately.
In talking with the C’s (CEO, CFO, COO, CTO, etc.) nothing could be further from the truth. Selling to them is based upon credibility and trust. Who would have an easier time building credibility and trust… a new fresh from college sales person or established professional consultant?
Once I show that I am a credible, knowledgeable, sales professional and/or manager, the barriers of age dissipate quickly with the younger IT professional. My presentation is never condescending in any case.
“Relationships are the hallmark of the mature person.” -Brian Tracy
Myth #3 – Not trainable
This is an area that actually might have some merit. Senior sales people can be set in their ways and can be resistant to coaching-training. This can also be true, however, with college graduates and pretty much anyone you hire. I have seen newbie after newbie become disillusioned because they can’t immediately point out to their manager all the errors of the company’s direction and process. Of course they have no experience or credibility and make no effort to understand why certain things are the way they are. They just feel they’re “entitled” to do this and become non-trainable.
Myth #4 – Not technically savvy
To be honest I am not as “sharp” as I was 20 years ago. It takes a little longer than it did to grasp the meteoric changes in my industry today. With that said… I am far ahead of most. I have found the senior sales professionals in my age group are very aware of social media, mobile “always-on” devices and are using these technologies in their personal and business lives. Facebook and LinkedIn are great examples of this with a strong growth of 40+ aged users. They are also writing technical sales books and becoming experts and mentors (credibility) in their fields.
“Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.” -William Somerset Maugham
Myth #5 – Weak work ethics
For a variety of family, personal, or health reasons, you could question how hard they will work. This could also apply to those with young families as well. My experience has been that the senior worker typically has extremely strong work ethics developed over the years. I know I have.
Myth #6 – Competition to younger management – owners
There is this of course. A senior sales pro could be a challenge but then again any performing sales professional on the team could be as well. Typically the senior sales professional will most likely have fewer aspirations of replacing the manager than the new up and coming young sales pro. Work your sales manager position to its fullest and there won’t be anything to worry about. On the plus side… they can be a great mentor and supporter if worked with properly.
Still having doubts about hiring a senior sales professional check this out. A Business Case for Workers Age 50+: A Look at the Value of Experience.
Remember… A little gray hair doesn’t necessarily mean a lot less grey matter. Of course you need to make sure they’re a team fit and that they are indeed trainable. Just don’t assume you can’t afford them and they’re not.© 2006-2018 SalesBlog! | Photos courtesy of 123RF | Posted on