The sales recruitment sector saw fairly strong growth in 2016, and I’m expecting that H1 2017 will continue to bring good conversion rates. With notable overseas interests preparing to expand into the Australian market, this year will certainly be an exciting one. Here’s what to expect:

Looking back on 2016

The sales sector saw a fairly buoyant 2016 – professional services had a strong H1 and tapered off a little in H2, which is fairly typical for the sector. However, the opposite has proven true for the industrial and technical sector – the majority of revenue in these areas has come through in H2. On the whole, though, the hiring managers and professionals I speak to report a pleasing year with a lot of new opportunities coming through, especially in more senior roles.

What will change in 2017?

There are currently a number of overseas firms looking to break into the Australian market, and this is something that could definitely impact the sales industry in 2017. We’re seeing a reasonable amount of interest from many areas, most notably the United States. Many US companies are considering Australia as their first expansion into the overseas market, which is perhaps understandable given the cultural and linguistic similarities between the countries. However, I’ve also seen interest from Chinese industrial products industries, as well as other global firms. This includes several multi-million dollar corporations, so local sales companies need to prepare and plan for how they will be affected if these overseas businesses land on our shores.

While these new businesses will naturally drive competition in the sales field, they may also bring certain advantages for candidates. Australia – and Sydney in particular – is seen a great place to start a career in sales, but people who want to advance their careers often feel the need to move internationally. With these overseas businesses coming to Australia, people will gain the opportunity for advancement on home soil at all career levels.

In demand sales roles

Sales organisations have recently placed a lot of emphasis on bulking up their client acquisition teams, and this trend is likely to continue in 2017. As such, the demand for experienced business developers will be a key focus.

Furthermore, I anticipate a shift towards greater customer interaction, with a more personal and hands-on approach to sales. Many businesses who have relied on traditional internal and telesales teams will be starting to look at how they can grow their field and face-to-face sales divisions. Similarly, I predict that organisations with ‘road based’ or ‘field sales’ people will be investing heavily in getting more people on the road and out in front of their customers or potential customers.

With the growth of SMEs over the past two years, there has been considerable increase in the number of potential customers. This means that organisations with a robust SME strategy will be investing heavily in their face-to-face presence.

In-demand skillsets

Having a diversified skillset will be the key for sales professionals in 2017 – specialised experience is not necessarily the be-all and end-all in this field. Industry knowledge can be taught, so even if your sales background doesn’t exactly correspond to the role you’re applying for, this may not hinder you in the selection process. Employers are more concerned with finding someone who can run a business autonomously, while also being savvy enough to pick up company-specific skills.

Tips for sales professionals

It’s important to prove that you can represent a brand, so you should highlight any examples of times when your work has directly contributed to a company’s success. Concrete figures that demonstrate this will always help sell you as the best candidate. You also need to prove that you can show autonomy to truly partner with a business to get the most out of customer relationships.

Tips for hiring managers

During the GFC, organisations had the power to dictate salaries and associated packages as job opportunities were in such high demand. However, in the past few years, the landscape has changed dramatically and candidates now control the process. It’s important for hiring managers to remember this when creating a job offer, or they will have a hard time attracting the ideal candidate. Transparency and speed will be the key to finding the right candidate for sales roles in 2017.

Companies that are looking to recruit in 2017 need to carefully consider who they choose to partner with to find the right candidate, and make sure they can be trusted to represent the brand.

What sales professionals want

Like most professionals, sales people are diverse in their needs and preferences for jobs. Stability in the role is key for some, for instance if they have a family. However, someone at the start of their career might be open to jumping into new roles and challenges more flexibly.

Sales professionals are particularly motivated by financial incentives, and they want to be trusted to do their jobs in an environment of flexibility and autonomy, rather than rigid structures.

Overall, 2017 will be a year full of change and opportunity in the sales sector, with new businesses entering the Australian market creating more competition for local businesses and greater room for growth for professionals.

If you’re looking for change this year, whether you’re expanding your team or looking for a new role, please feel free to get in touch: [email protected]

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Summary

A number of overseas firms looking to break into the Australian market and this will definitely impact the sales industry in 2017. Here’s what to expect:

1) Sales organisations have placed a lot of emphasis on bulking up their client acquisition teams. Demand for experienced business developers will be a key focus.

2) There will be a shift towards greater customer interaction. Organisations with ‘road based’ or ‘field sales’ people will be investing heavily in getting more people on the road and out in front of their customers or potential customers.

3) Having a diversified skillset will be the key for sales professionals in 2017 – specialised experience is not necessarily the be-all and end-all in this field. 

4) Tip for sales professionals: Prove that you can represent a brand, so highlight any examples of times when your work has directly contributed to a company’s success.

5) Tip for hiring managers: It's now a candidate-driven market. Hiring managers to remember this when creating a job offer.

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