Last year We asked whether previous education experience should be an important factor when hiring a sales executive. We concluded that a candidate’s experience within education should be viewed as a “nice-to-have” rather than the primary reason for a hire. However, TRN’s recent Ed Tech sales compensation survey highlighted that less than a quarter of education sales professionals surveyed had fewer than five years’ experience, while more 40% had 15+ years’ experience. This begs the question, is there a bias towards education experience and is it affecting the influx of new sales talent?
From a general sales perspective, the answer is no. Articles written for both Forbes and Business Insider’s highlighted that sales positions are among the most popular jobs for college graduates. This abundance of opportunities means that almost the entire cohort of graduates had the qualifications to perform many entry-level roles. With the average years of industry experience increasing, why are newly qualified professionals with limited to no education industry experience being overlooked as viable Ed Tech sales candidates?
Historically, educational sales teams have been made up of career industry professionals, often migrating from educational or operational posts. Many former educators seeking a second career are being considered on the back of their credibility, subject knowledge and industry experience. This can be an attractive proposition for an educational organization looking to scale quickly but can also blind hiring managers from potential new talent, drive and new ways of thinking.
As the Ed Tech industry continues to grow, organizations will need to address the lack of recent graduates entering the industry. Ed Tech leaders need to be aware of the industry’s increasing global presence. This greater visibility means that recent grads will be looking at Ed Tech sales as a viable career path. Failure to capitalize on this interest will ultimately cause a talent shortfall in sales teams, painting education sales as an unfavorable opportunity for graduates and sending that talent to other industries.
In conclusion, Ed Tech has the opportunity to build a robust pipeline of new candidates by looking for entry level sales associates to train and develop. On the surface, Ed Tech has the attractive combination of cutting-edge technology, strong social awareness and high retention rates, all of which make it an ideal industry for attracting today’s talent. However, hiring managers need to refrain from favoring former educators and assess each candidate in their pipeline with the same consistent process. Evaluating key sales traits, cognitive abilities and quota attainment will provide reliable markers and will help organizations avoid missing potential new sales talent.