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Working in sales requires more than simply mastering the cold call and having stellar communications skills. As a new grad, sales can be a rewarding, lucrative career—given you’ve been provided with the proper tools to reach that point. This fall, Xerox Canada introduced its 24-month Professional Sales Academy Learning Continuum for all its new grad recruits within Xerox Authorized Agencies.

By building on the existing three-week training program (an exclusive training system sought after in candidates by other sales companies), Xerox implemented the two-year program to invite new hires to “come for the training, stay for the learning.”

The ongoing developmental plan was designed to be more hands-on than the original three-week program, offering continuous teaching, training, and support, while also implementing it on the job.

“It’s run by industry professionals so they learn the tricks of the trade, and the dos and don’ts of the job,” says Thilo Mohan, sourcing and recruitment specialist at Xerox Canada. “Given that, we’ve extended the learning continuum, it is now more elaborate and detailed than it used to be and will give reps the opportunity to apply their learning in the field.”

The 24-month program provides three levels of accreditation throughout the two years. Entry-level agency account managers are taken through nine different phases until they are able to transition into the next steps within the Xerox Authorized Agencies or Xerox Canada. “The new continuum will keep them engaged and eager to complete the sales training with our Professionals Sales Academy, which was not always the case in the past—candidates would complete the three weeks of training and just throw it on their resumés,” says Mohan, adding it also further promotes retention and career growth opportunities within Xerox.

The nine phases

1. Onboarding and orientation to introduce new hires to Xerox Agency Sales.
2. An introduction to the Xerox portfolio, product offerings, and the opportunity to engage in e-learning, job shadowing, and teaching on and offline.
3. Preparation for client-facing tasks.
4. Field learning, where initial training is put into action, while receiving continuous support from managers.
5. The Professional Sales Academy, where account managers learn to communicate value, build business cases, and receive training in the Xerox sales process from start to finish.
6. Opportunity to practice in the community, where Xerox will provide touch points to ensure success.
7. Additional classroom learning—between months 10–18—to build on existing sales skill set.
8. The transition from the Professional Sales Academy to accreditation.
9. A transitional workshop to help prepare for the next career steps at Xerox Canada or its authorized agencies.

How to earn a spot

Each year, Xerox looks to hire between 150–170 recent graduate agency account managers across Canada, all of which will complete the 24-month program. The candidates are screened and assessed by Xerox Canada, and successful applications are handed to the Xerox Authorized Sales Agencies where hiring is then handled in-house.

“In terms of the candidate itself, we’re looking for someone who’s ambitious, goal-oriented, competitive, outgoing, and resilient,” lists Mohan. And speaking of the challenges students may face, she says the role is unlike a retail sales position common amongst students, but rather a hunting-type of role. “You’re going out there, meeting with clients, cold calling, prospecting for new business. Of course you’re going to face a lot of rejection. Overcoming that, understanding the roles and the product lines would be something they’ll have to be mindful of.”

The final phase

Upon completion of the Professional Sales Academy, agency sales account managers somewhat become masters of the role, and are also able to apply their transferable skills elsewhere at Xerox—agency or corporate.

“They do have the opportunity to move around the agency—laterally or vertically,” says Mohan. “Whether they decide to pursue their career within the sales stream or in other parts of the business, Xerox will continue to support them with advanced training to better prepare them for more complex and strategic challenges.”

Photos: Bartłomiej Szewczyk/Thinkstock