The biggest mis-selling scandal of all - 2nd February 2017

Sales is mis-sold in the UK. Ironic, I know. It’s a rubbish job with no career prospects, many believe. Sales is only for people that can’t get a proper job, say others. Pfff, sales job? Are you kidding?!

As business owners and managers, we’d all love to find more great salespeople to grow our businesses. We’d hire them and treat them well if only we could find them.

No, this article is not a plug to tell you that we can help. It’s an article about the scandalous mis-selling of sales that turns most people off the idea of going into the business of generating revenue. And a call to arms to address it together. This scandal – and it is that – results in tens of thousands of people having skills that remain unused and, in many cases, they’re doing jobs that pay them a fraction of what they could earn in sales. At the same time, businesses have empty chairs that they’d happily fill with sales stars.

“Is there a more important function in business than sales?” asks Philip Delves-Broughton in his book Life is a Pitch, a brilliant examination of the importance of sales in daily life.

So, if we agree with Philip (yes, we do), why is the most important function in business not taught in schools, not mentioned at universities, not put in front of the relevant talent pool at any time with any clarity? More than 3 million Brits work in sales. Millions more use sales skills day in day out.

Yet, if sales is ever mentioned in our culture, it’s mentioned negatively. If it’s portrayed on our screens, it’s awful (and untrue). From The Apprentice on TV to The Wolf of Wall Street at the movies, ‘sales is bad and done by bad people’ is the message. Read the papers and selling is rarely mentioned without ‘mis’ as a prefix.

My forthcoming book (yes that is a plug!) – due out in June – is about changing the perception of sales to the outsider. Those of us in sales know the truth. But we’re in the minority. And we won’t ultimately solve the never-ending sales recruitment challenge until we massively increase the size of the talent pool that considers sales a serious career choice.

The media is anti-sales. Education is anti-sales. British culture is anti-sales. Business is pro-sales but is losing the battle for fresh talent. Let’s work together to change that.