If Jamie Vardy were in sales… - 3rd May 2016

Premier League winner and England international Jamie Vardy would have had close to 0% chance of making it late in sales the way he has in football. For every company employing salespeople, you know this is unforgiveable. When – and how – will this change?

For non-football fans, Jamie Vardy is now 29 years of age and plays for recently crowned champions, Leicester City, as well as being an England player. Yet only 4 years ago he was not even playing the game professionally. At 25, he played in non-league football and worked in a factory.

In order for this point to make sense, we need to apply some translation to the relevant working years. Of course many companies give 25 year olds their first sales jobs but, for comparison, we have to turn ‘football years’ into ‘normal working life years’. Typically, a footballer can reasonably expect to play professionally for 10 or 12 years, possibly 15. Let’s take 12 years and let’s assume that a player like Vardy (reliant on pace) would be successful from age 19 to 31. Therefore, he became a professional footballer halfway through his working life.

In a normal working life, we would expect to work between 45 and 50 years so a ‘Vardy equivalent’ in sales would be giving someone their first sales job at age 35 or 40 or even 45. Could someone at that age still make it? I believe so, yes (but then I got my first sales job at the ancient age of 32), but what is even more disturbing is that potential salespeople are turned away much, much younger than that.

We had a 23-year old recently that we re-submitted to a client a year after he’d first met them. When they turned him down for interview, we re-iterated that this candidate was a completely different proposition from the version they’d met a year ago, not an unusual result of learning loads in your first year in work. Their reply?

“No, sorry, he has had his chance.”

Wow. Really?!

Thank goodness, says every Leicester fan, their talent scouts didn’t think that way.

When, in the world of sales where there are simply not enough good salespeople to go around, will companies recognise that every opportunity to uncover sales talent should be explored? There are thousands of sales Vardys out there – would you give them a shot at glory?