From bake sales, 40p lemonades stands and selling sweets in the playground to closing million pound deals, our inspiring entrepreneurs all seem to have been young grafters. You only have to delve into the stories of those who have graced the cover of Elite Business – Charlie Mullins and the like – for some solid evidence of this.
Well, such a trend has now been put into numbers. New research by sales intelligence software provider sales-i reveals that children who exhibited this spirited and driven personality often veered towards a career in sales. Over a third of the 254 sales professionals surveyed across the UK and USA said they were making change by the age of thirteen and 68% recall earning their pocket money as a child. It comes as no surprise that salespeople identified a competitive spirit in their miniature selves with 36% of them selecting this as their principal childhood characteristic.
Conclusions from the survey are indicative of the characteristics HR managers, and business owners should look for in potential employees. Cary Cooper CBE, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School stresses the importance of salespeople defining themselves in this way. “It’s that level of confidence and self-awareness which is typical, and needed, in their role,” she says.
An impressive pre-pubescent resume does not however immediately translate into high-flying sale marks as employers still have a responsibility to establish and provide a system that is conducive to sales excellence. On average, respondents met their monthly targets nine times and exceeded them in seven within the last 12 months and 57% of them attributed their improved selling ability to nurturing managers.
While the figures show that only 22% pursued sales as their first career choice, Paul Black, CEO of sales-i, puts forward a possible explanation for the other 78%. “It maybe that it wasn’t until they began their career in sales that they found a job which best suited their personalities and skill sets”, he suggests.
It’s safe to say thirteen is the new sixteen.