2018 Sales Job Market Tough for Employers, Nirvana for Job Seekers
With an unemployment rate of 4.1% – lowest in the last 17 years, and the US economy showing a continuing strong performance, it is a great time to be a sales job seeker.
For employers, life is different. Demand for sales reps has been going steadily in the direction of the economy; it is today the # 1 job that small businesses are trying to fill. And it is not going to get easier with the coming years: per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an estimated 81,000 sales reps will be lacking in the country in the next 4-5 years.
If you are looking to hire good sales people, you have to be willing to fight. But more importantly, you need to understand what will lead a good sales rep to want to know more about your company… and consider to visit you for an interview.
Good sales reps know what they are worth in a growing economy. In the last 8 months, we have observed a 20% base salary inflation; it has taken on average 65% longer to fill a sales position; sales reps who are passively seeking to find another sales job get 6 propositions within less than 2 months, once they start promoting themselves on the employment market.
The 3 tips below will hopefully help you be more competitive.
1) First impression counts most
When you post your ad on online job boards, be aware that good applicants will react positively, or negatively, in the first few seconds of reading your posting. What they want to know, in the following sequence, is:
- Is your company/practice growing?
- Are you offering a bright (even if challenging) future?
- Is it fun to work in your organization?
- Can they (plan to) make the “Big Six” figure?
If you do not provide such information in your posting, you will NOT attract good sales reps, period. The same thing applies when applicants visit for an interview: If your company does not reflect a “sales elite” culture (where sales reps are important), if execs and staff do not appreciate a sales mentality, good sales reps will not feel welcome.
2) The magic 6 digits
Any good sales rep is aspiring to reach close or beyond the “six” figures in compensation. Maybe in a few years, maybe faster; but no professional sales rep will work hard and dedicate themselves to your organization if they do not see a possibility to, maybe one day, earn a six-figure income. Does it mean that they will ever make it? Not necessarily, but the good ones must see that the possibility exists and is real.
According to BLS, the 2016 median annual salary for a sales representative was $57,140 – with the best-paid 10% making roughly $121,000. Current stats raise that medium to closer to $60K. But if you do not want to attract average sales reps, you must be ready to demonstrate HOW they can – even if a few years from now, attain between $80 and $100K – with at least 50% of it earned from performance-based commissions.
One of my best lines in posting an ad for sales position has always been: “if you are not aspiring to make $100K or more [in the near future], don’t bother to respond to this ad.”
3) Forget hard skills
It is well known that top sales reps do not always excel in the technical knowledge of their product. Rather, they excel in softer skills such as enthusiasm, passion, service drive, assertiveness, etc.
One major mistake too many employers make is to consider that technical or hard skills are the most important criteria of selection. This is not true. I have personally observed this through the training of over 55,000 professional sales people – most of them in BtoB industries. Without exception, I can tell you that top sales reps differentiate themselves in their soft skills, not in their hard ones.
The most important soft skills you are looking for are (in that sequence):
- Purpose drive: they have to be inspired and motivated by a strong personal purpose in life. It does not matter what it is, provided it gives them the ferocity to fight for it.
- Performance drive: Top sales reps are just that: performance-driven. They do not satisfy themselves with acceptable performance; Rather, they constantly want to over-achieve.
- Challenge drive: Many sales reps stop performing when they have reach a plateau of comfort. They may give you satisfactory numbers, but that does not mean they are doing their best. Great sales people are driven by the spirit of game and impossible missions. They take up challenges that others shy away from.
- Service drive: Great sales people are doing better because the customers recognize their dedication to help them. Doing whatever it takes to solve a client’s problem, being available and always enthusiastic, going the extra mile to make the customer feel unique; those are soft skills that make a sales rep a top one.
- Talent drive: Avoid hiring sales reps who think they “know it all.” The willingness to learn new things and to improve oneself is a vital component of success in selling.
Your expansion does not depend on your product, or on the administrative power of your organization, or on the genius of your marketing department. It really depends on your ability to develop and manage a great team of sales professionals. Because no matter what many marketing gurus pretend about the disappearance of sales careers, “nothing happens until someone sells something.”
Ask for a quick online demonstration of our Hirebox testing platform. Our Recru-Tec assessment can help you evaluate with over 90% precision if an applicant will be a good, performing sales professional – or not!
CEO Hirebox International
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