A customer asked me the other day how he could move up to a top tier sales job when he has a great track record in sales but no college degree. His email to me was a personal one, but my response I feel you could benefit from at some point, so I am reprinting it here for you today.

Hiring managers always want a track record, industry knowledge, territory knowledge and in some fields a Bachelor’s Degree.

What I can tell you is this:  while those maybe the surface requirements, any and all of them can be overcome. You can get hired into a different field if you are extremely persistent. You do have the track record that shows you know how to go into a job and perform. That is the most important thing. So from there what you need to prove is that everything else doesn’t matter.

I don’t know what field you want to get into. If you want to go into selling technology, like I used to, they want a degree. It’s a tough one to overcome, but you can overcome it.

The degree requirement is there because they think people with degrees are more teachable about the products they have to sell.

The degree requirement is also there because they think it sets apart people culturally – this is a less spoken of issue. People who have degrees are assumed to be a little classier, or more refined. Conversely by keeping people without degrees out, they avoid having a sloppy white-trash type come in for the job interview.

Also, there’s a bit of CYA that happens by hiring a degreed person. What I mean is a degreed person is a "safer" hire than a non-degreed person. If a non-degreed person is hired and doesn’t work out, it would be very easy for the President or CEO to point the finger at the Sales Manager and say "You were a moron for hiring a moron".

So to overcome this issue, you first need to get it out on the table as an issue.

Pick a field you like. Do enough research so that you are very sure you want it. Then do whatever it takes to find the hiring Sales Manager/VP. A real good Sales Manager/VP will be impressed by a professional, persistent salesman. Build and stay in rapport, and keep after the guy. Phone calls, emails, FedEx’s, etc.

You gotta overwhelm them and show that you won’t take no. Then when you get them interested and start setting the hook, do a takeaway. And throw out the “I don’t have a degree" objection on the table before they do and make them and solve it with you.

Make yourself really attractive as a classy, smart, aggressive salesman. Persistence is a very attractive quality in a salesman because there are a lot of smart and talented lazy people in the world who waste their brains and talent.

The key in this is doing your own research up-front to make sure you are going after something that you really want, and you can really make a big leap in. Your conviction in wanting must to be as solid as a brick wall. Then SELL HARD.

Sell with Pride,

Shameless Shamus

P.S. I cover takeaway selling as well as how to get your prospects to solve objections themselves or together with you in the Persuasive Selling Skills Audio Program. Get your copy now.