This is where the politically correct unload on me, right? "What do you mean that Mormons could be better salespeople that other segments of the population?" I could be called a lot of things I don't desire to be called in today's world.
But allow me to explain. I happened upon a documentary this weekend and watched some missionary work within the Mormon faith and uttered what has to be a business truth - "those kids look like they're going through the greatest sales training in the world."
Missionaries in the Mormon faith get dropped into a part of the world they're unfamiliar with for 1-2 years and proceed to knock on doors for that entire time period to evangelize the faith. They get paired up with one partner they ride or die with for that time period, and as I understand it, they are limited in the communication devices they have access to (no smartphones) and only can make limited/periodic calls back home.
The lessons and growth - as well as the entertainment - wait for them in 1-2 years of door knocking with limited distractions.
Sounds like sales training to me.
A quick web search shows that some companies have attempted to build a salesforce using former Mormon missionaries. More form the New York Times:
Six days a week, in fair weather and foul, two-dozen door-to-door salesmen, all of whom live clustered together in an apartment complex in this suburb west ofChicago, pile into S.U.V.’s and cars and head into the big city, bent on sales of home security systems. And on Sunday, their one day off, they drive together to the nearest house of worship of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The salesmen are mostly former Mormon missionaries from Utah who cut their teeth — and learned their people-skill chops — cold-calling for their faith. In Chicago and in its suburbs where their employer, Pinnacle Security of Orem, Utah, has shipped them for the summer sales season, they are doing much the same thing, but as a job.
Managers at Pinnacle Security, founded in 2001 by a student at Brigham Young University, the Mormon Church-owned school, say missionaries simply have the right stuff. Many speak foreign languages learned in the mission field. All have thick skins from dealing with the negative responses that a missionary armed with a Book of Mormon and a smile can receive.
Mormon men are expected to serve a two-year mission in their early 20s, and about two-thirds of Pinnacle Security’s 1,800 sales representatives this summer have been through the experience. Former missionaries work for other direct-sales companies, too, though Pinnacle seems to be in a class by itself: It has deployed them in 75 cities nationwide.
“They’re used to knocking on doors, and they’re used to rejection,” said Scott Warner, Pinnacle’s manager of the Chicago sales team
Yes, that example is door to door sales. But if missionary candidates can survive - and thrive - in the task they undertake in a foreign country, they're probably good enough to deserve a shot on your inside sales team as well, right?
A big part of recruiting is attempting to unlock pools of candidates that are undervalued. I suspect many companies already use the Mormon missionary pool as a source of early career sales talent, but if you haven't, and you're struggling to fill any type of entry-level sales role, this segment is worth a look.
Note to the haters - I'm not suggesting that we build a salesforce of white guys who love white shirts, black ties and Joseph Smith, Jr. I am saying that the hit rate recruiting leaders get out of this segment for early careers sales roles should be higher than average. Your EEOC mix, as always, is your responsibility.
Mormon missionaries have done a sales job that's harder than the one you have peddling software, service contracts or widgets. There were often angry dogs and heads of the household with guns involved.
There might even be a sales manager out there that was responsible for keeping these missionary flocks engaged and on the straight and narrow in the field.
I'd give it a look.