According to a 2014 report from Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project, employers spent an average of 41 days trying to fill technology sales jobs, compared with an average of 33 days for all jobs for the 12-month period ending in September 2014. As expected, sales management jobs were the most difficult to fill.
Employers were required to pay technology sales reps more than twice the median for all workers in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is due to a competitive hiring market and because some younger workers entering the job market prefer non-sales jobs because they are concerned about the financial risks related to sales, i.e. heavy reliance on commissions and bonuses to achieve target earnings. In response, many employers have re-evaluated their sales recruiting strategies, focusing on a team environment, a clear career path, higher base pay and a lower percentage of variable compensation.
In the pay mix for sales jobs, base pay has increased 11.7% from 2010 through 2014 while the variable component of commissions and bonuses has remained steady, according to Xactly Corp., a firm whose software tracks sales compensation and helps companies formulate incentive strategies. Many universities are also making adjustments by revising their sales courses to include critical thinking and collaboration.
Related problems are the high cost of training new sales reps, the time required for them to become productive, which can take 6-12 months, and the costs related to re-filling sales jobs for failed sales reps.
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Image: Glengarry Glen Ross, 1992.
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