With redundancies and job cuts being made across the police force and much of the public sector, the private sector is being asked to fill the gap that will be made. However, in the private sector there are also mixed fortunes, but how will this affect the sales profession.
Sales has always been different to other professions, the ability to measure productivity and business impact has both been the profession’s friend in good times but enemy in bad. Moving into 2011 it’s important to have an overview of the hiring market. For the last few years it’s been a buyer’s market, but was the quality of talent on show up to scratch, was the best sales talent staying put?
Thought leaders SalesGravy.com conducted a survey of 26,000 sales leaders to try and provide some insight as to what the 2011 market place will look like, the results make intriguing reading for anyone working in sales.
According to the report, 75% of business and sales leaders stated that this year they felt their sales headcount would increase, with only 2% saying it would decrease. This has to be one of the most positive messages for sales professionals and the economy as a whole.
Over the last 6 months there has certainly been evidence of this across some sectors, with companies such as Softcat who recently told Recruiter that Softcat’s objective for the year from August 2010 to July 2011 had been to hire 100 new people but is now likely that the number for this year will be closer to 120.
Arguments could be made as to what proportion of these strategies are ‘panic hiring’, through the recession there was a anecdotal evidence that businesses were hiring sales professionals to address the decline in sales, a scenario that could often have been outside the control of the new recruit, and a low risk appointment should the hiring business wish to cut its losses if there was no impact in the first 3-6 months.
However, we also saw Metaswitch Networks
taking on new staff on the back of growth that had occurred over the last 6-12 months. This would suggest that sales teams are looking to be formed on the back of growth, rather than a ‘panic hiring’ scenario.
Even with an element of panic hiring taking place, with such high numbers of businesses looking to recruit sales professionals, the results remain positive.
Sales Talent Pool
The next area that SalesGravy.com have looked to addresses is the implication on HR, Sales Management and Sales Recruiters. Although 75% of businesses are looking to hire more sales professionals, there was a concern over the quality of professionals available.
The results of the survey confirmed that a massive 57% responded that they had ‘Significant Concern’ over the availability of sales talent that meet hiring needs.
The implication here will be to ensure that any metrics and techniques on selection should be looked at closely; spending too much resource on recruitment and missing out on key talent could be expensive. On top of this there are training implications in terms of evaluating need and improving missing skills.
The issue around finding the right talent and having a robust recruitment and selection process is further re-enforced by the response to Sales Turnover; 33% believing that there will be increase in turnover and 35% believing there will be no change. Is this a logical step relating to the increase in hires or a reflection of the scepticism around the quality of talent available?
The report suggests an important possible outcome from this perceived clash in statistics, SalesGravy.com suggests;
“We believe there is a rude awakening lurking just ahead for Sales Human Resource Managers. Market forces and employee dissatisfaction will soon collide, increasing defection rates and placing enormous pressure on sales organisations to retain top talent”
Therefore the need to assess business retention plans and /or HR resources is of vital importance if the possibility of recruiting and ‘churn’ will become a major effort. 71% reported that they will be increasing HR resource – will they also be improving packages?
A positive 2011
The report makes good reading for sales professionals who will be looking forward to increased job opportunities and a possible improvement of current benefit packages. On the other side of the table, Sales Management face a challenge in recruitment and retention, time managing and not planning could have an extra implication for the business.
However, the positive note will be that good sales management with good benefit packages and working conditions will see the best sales professionals stick with these opportunities and hopefully look to build on three years hard work during the recession to start exploiting an improving market. These relationships are arguably what can bring the economy back to growth.