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Sales Jobs: Hiring Outlook for 2010

Sales Jobs: Hiring Outlook for 2010

With many industry sectors finally bottoming out in the wrenching 2008-2009 recession, sales professionals and observers looking ahead to 2010 are once again trotting out their traditional optimism, though with reservations.

“There will be very specific hiring in sales next year, but it won’t be broad-based,” says Vic Dayal, a director at human resources consulting firm ORC Worldwide. “There’s a shift from cost-cutting to revenue generation happening right now,” and that’s good news for salespeople.

What does this mean for job seekers looking to move into sales, reenter the sales workforce or step up their sales career in the new decade? They must be prepared to demonstrate their value, keep current on the latest in sales technology, and go to the regions and industries where the sales jobs are.

Will much change in terms of how salespeople are compensated? Yes and no. “Organizations have a much greater ability now to reset the market for both existing employees and new hires,” says Dayal. “Companies would like to offer a lower base and more commission. But there’s a tension, because it’s going to take a lot to move desirable, experienced salespeople from a known environment to an unknown company.”

Sales Gains and Losses Throughout 2009

To be sure, 2009 has been a hard sell. Although many sectors had begun to record month-over-month sales gains toward the end of 2009, most industries were still trying to catch up with their year-earlier performance. Retail sales reached $309.8 billion in October 2009, up $4 billion from the previous month but still down $7 billion from a year earlier, according to seasonally adjusted data in a December 2009 Commerce Department report. Manufacturing sales, at $368 billion in October, were also up $4 billion from September but still far under the year-earlier performance of $415.9 billion. Building materials and related supplies, at $22.8 billion in October, were down from both a month and a year earlier; sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, at $59 billion in October, were up from both a month and a year earlier.

Some Companies Will Just Keep Hiring Salespeople

Many companies in manufacturing, services and other industries have had to let salespeople go to weather the recession. But some employers, positioning themselves to grab market share or to build business by claiming the low end of consumer markets, have kept on hiring.

“We will end the year with sales flat to slightly up compared to 2008,” says Crispin Murira, marketing manager at Blinds to Go, a retailer of window treatments with about 95 stores. With attrition and promotions, Blinds to Go hired about 400 salespeople in 2009.

As the retailer looks to expand, “we’re still looking for as many good people as we can find,” says Murira. “We put a lot of training into new hires, and it takes six to 12 months for someone to really add value.” So with the economy apparently poised for recovery in 2010, “it makes no sense for us to stop hiring now.”

Like more and more employers, Blinds to Go invests heavily in its sales hiring process to yield a high proportion of new employees who will be successful in their sales career. Eventually, qualified candidates earn about $40,000 in their first year on average, mostly in base salary and the balance in either commissions or bonus.

Sales 2.0 Skills May Give Candidates an Edge

If you think selling is all about a skill set that doesn’t change much, you’re mistaken, at least according to folks who make a living in sales 2.0 tools like Salesforce.com. To increase velocity and volume in their sales jobs, professionals increasingly turn to these Web-based tools to make customer and sales data more transparent and measurable.

“Candidates who have experience with sales 2.0 tools will be hired before candidates who don’t,” says Rand Schulman, chief marketing officer at InsideView, which makes SalesView, a sales intelligence and tracking application. Schulman advises: “Create a resume that communicates your understanding of sales 2.0. And if you can, demonstrate gains that you’ve made with these tools, such as increased calls and close rates, and where you’ve exceeded quotas.”

Knowledge of sales 2.0 often correlates with geography, according to Schulman.
“The early adopters are technology companies on the East and West coasts,” says Schulman. “The guys who sell manufacturing capacity in the Midwest -- in Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago -- they’re not yet up to speed.”

Do you lack access to sales 2.0 tools in your current situation? Bolster your sales career and begin your reeducation by reading magazines like Selling Power or books like Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology.

Learn more about sales careers.

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