The sales job market is radically changing and 2014 is proving to be a defining year for business development professionals and their overall career trajectory. Change was and is inevitable.
With technology moving at astonishingly rapid paces, it would be naive to assume that traditional sales jobs will be the same in 3, 5 or 10 years from now. So, what exactly is the future of sales careers and sales recruiting? It may be more positive than you think.
Below, we’ll take a look into: (I.) how sales hiring is currently changing, (II.) predict where recruitment demand will be in the future, and (III.) share my priorities for hiring sales people that can grow with your company.
I. How Sales Recruiting Is Changing Today
Running a sales and marketing recruitment company for the past 10 years, I’ve seen a vast change in the way organizations approach sales staffing and the effect it will have on future generations of business development professionals.
While making a comprehensive list on the current changes would take significant time, below you’ll find a truncated list of alterations that both organizations, recruiters and sales employees face.
a. Reliance not competitiveness.
Only in rare circumstances can sales professionals survive without extensive marketing support and vice versa. Staffing 10 sales rainmakers will have limited positive effect without internal marketing support. 10 years ago, a great sales force could outmaneuver many web marketing efforts. This is no longer the case.
Prior to 2012, companies would come to our staffing agency, KAS Placement, with budget for either a marketing or sales hire and both would find themselves fighting for the same allotment of hiring budget.
Nowadays, the two must go hand in hand as one cannot thrive without the other. For instance, sales professionals without marketing support are much more likely to display lower moral, closing rates and resiliency than those who enjoy a positive public image. This is not to mention that they are less likely to accept a position that doesn’t support them with, at a minimum, basic brand presence.
b. The more intelligent companies are separating the two divisions less and less, welcoming increased collaboration.
More than in the past, sales professionals are contributing to the marketing campaigns to ensure that they are comfortable with the products and services they are pitching. Marketing professionals are slowly realizing the importance of the competitive analysis their sales counterparts bring and welcoming their thoughts with open arms.
On the flip side, the most highly paid business development employees fully understand the marketing team and appreciate the tactical strategies they implement. Years ago, there was tension. Now, both parties realize the importance one another brings.
II. How Aggressive Web Marketing Will Shape Sales Jobs Going Forward
a. First and foremost, web marketing will not kill sales, but rather increase a firm’s needs for effective closers.
While marketing may entice a potential buyer, many business to business industries will not be able to close deals without strong sales representatives behind that image. People still want human interaction before signing significant contracts. Smart companies will still want to test a sales professional’s knowledge, customer service acumen, intelligence as well as other crucial factors prior to committing to large corporate purchases.
b. Great marketing means great sales recruiting.
As good as a firm’s marketing may be, their sales team will have to be just as impressive or contracts won’t get signed. At the end of the day, companies won’t sign agreements because of a well-written pamphlet nor are they likely to in the near future.
c. Marketing – and not sales – will become the front line.
At an increasing rate, buyers will look evaluate your brand to determine whether it’s worth calling that company from the onset. Instead of the reputation of a particular sales representative in the company.
Aspects such as social media presence, brand reputation, website design, press recognition and client list will afford the sales team warmer leads and, in many cases will grant them a higher closing rate. Part of this will be due to the confidence those sales professionals display as a result of their cutting-edge, compelling marketing implementations.
d. Traditional dialing is slowing wearing its welcome.
Picking up the phone and cold-calling a prospect was once considered entrepreneurial, but today’s younger generation believe the tactic to be overly invasive. While the tactic may never be dead, only the highly skilled can pull it off.
Instead, sales professionals will have to formulate ways to introduce the company via an intriguing email that stands out from mass emailing spam which organizations receive in abundance. Thus, sales will become less of a numbers game and more of an accuracy game.
III. Priorities for Hiring Top Sales Talent
a. Think longterm.
While sales professionals may not get the budgets they deserve, bear the changes with a sense of optimism and wait for the pending shortage in sales professionals both in the company and in the marketplace.
The millennial generation wants to be behind a computer rather than behind a phone. Prioritize a person’s ability to negotiate, manage a sales cycle, convert leads, form trusting relationships and out-smart competitor selling points – all from their computer. While phone calls and in person meetings will not disappear, I don’t expect the cost savings of digital sales process to decline.
b. Understand marketing.
The more a candidate knows marketing as a sales professional, the more influence he or she will have over how the counterparts convey their message to the people whom you will be selling the product or service to. A brand is one story; smart companies are placing a premium of sales professionals who also understand marketing. The versatile talents will be to small to mid-size companies who can’t afford both and, thus will be able to command much more robust compensation packages.
On a macro level, the pool of sales talent is plentiful, evolving and will only make a greater impact on your future bottom-line.
Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement Sales Recruiters, a New York City based executive search firm. On the topic of job search, interviewing and recruitment, Ken has been published on Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Monster, Career Builder, Recruiter.com and Yahoo! Photo Credit HelpScout.