I pitched one of my sales training courses to an insurance company recently. In conversation the HR professional mentioned that they are hiring ‘older’ sales people.
I asked why?
The answer I got was that they had more responsibility … children, bonds, school fees and … debt.
I suppose the rationale is that if sales people have more responsibilities (and debt), they will be encouraged to work harder to service those responsibilities.
And, if they work harder, they will sell more and make more money for the company.
I remember when I played in the insurance world in my 20s. Because I didn’t have a family or a mortgage, my sales manager encouraged me to buy a flash car.
Once again, assuming that if I would be more motivated to work harder and sell more so that I could service my debt.
Now, as then, I think this is faulty logic.
Anybody that even has a smattering of knowledge of Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ would know that if the basics aren’t covered, folks are less inclined to raise their eyes to “what can be”.
When we are struggling to service our debt and survive, there is little chance that we’ll be motivated to sell to our full potential.
The worry that debt and responsibility causes drowns out any potential of being creative and taking risks.
Nassim Taleb in his book Antifragile speaks of the ‘barbell theory’ (or was it dumbbell?). No matter. He says that once the left hand side of the barbell/dumbbell is sorted, then one can focus on the right hand side and take more risks. In essence he was saying that if your basics are covered and your future is pretty secure (good salary, life insurance, pension, medical, comfortable lifestyle, etc) then you have the space (on the right-hand-side) to take risks and do more of what you want to do.
So, as a sales person, when you are comfortable you’ll be more confident when it comes to selling. And, as you know … the more confident you are, the more you sell. The more confident you are, the less likely it is that you’ll discount your products/services when squeezed to do so.
I’m definitely in the camp that hires sales people that are financially comfortable and not those that have debt hanging over them like a Sword of Damocles.
In my sales training and sales management training I encourage sales managers to take into consideration the ‘desperation level’ of a potential recruit before hiring him or her.