How to reach your sales talent target

With demand for sales candidates on the rise in key areas, experts say employers may need to consider new incentives to attract the best talent.

The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows a year-on-year increase in job ads across a number of sales roles, such as Analysis & Reporting, New Business Development and Management.

Alexandra Allen, Marketing Executive with Robert Walters, says there is growing demand for skilled sales professionals right across New Zealand.

“Demand for experienced and high-performing sales professionals consistently exceeds supply from the market,” she says.

Sales roles on the rise

The latest SEEK data shows opportunities for analysis and reporting grew by 9% year-on-year over the three-month period of January to March.

Allen says data analysis is having a significant impact on the sales industry.

“You will struggle to find roles now without a digital aspect,” she says.

“Advances in automation are allowing companies to embed new technology more easily and sales professionals need to be able to manage these systems. Automation also takes the repetitive tasks away from staff, freeing them up to focus on business development.”

New Business Development was another area of growth on SEEK with job ads increasing by 5% year-on-year over the three-month period.

The skills in demand are primarily what we would call ‘Hunters’,” says Allen.

“It’s those candidates with the ability to effectively map out a market, identify and form new relationships, manage a pipeline and convert that through to revenue and new relationships for the organisation. Negotiation and closing skills are also critical, as are resilience and determination.”

Developing sales skills

Emma Leslie, Head of Sales and Services at sales outsourcing business Leading Edge Group, says the sales industry is “not for the faint hearted” and this can present challenges when it comes to recruitment.

“Sales crosses so many industries and if organisations don’t have their sales department right, it flows on to other areas of the business,” she says.

Leading Edge Group employs approximately 120 people across New Zealand and Leslie says in-house training is vital to building strong talent in the team.

“We need to produce results for our partners and we focus on supporting our people so they can achieve their targets,” she says.

“We provide one-on-one coaching and work to remove any roadblocks and improve processes to make targets easier to achieve.”

Many businesses rely on revenue generation for success, yet Leslie notes there are few opportunities for formal sales industry training.

“This is especially the case when it comes to sales leadership – it’s rarely taught at university,” she says.

“We have a very strong in-house framework when it comes to developing leaders. We focus on training and career development so people can move up through the ranks.”

Attracting the best sales talent

In the highly competitive sales industry, candidates are attracted to employers who offer a generous commission structure.

“We have uncapped commission policies at Leading Edge, so earning potential is really up to the individual,” says Leslie.

“We want our people to be earning money.”

With companies also competing for the best sales talent, Allen suggests employers take a flexible approach to recruitment.

“It’s important to be able to adapt your offering and be open to negotiation on the benefits and terms of the role for the right candidate,” she says.

“Good sales professionals understand that they will be remunerated based on performance and generally expect a lower base salary with high on-target earnings or commission potential. Make it very clear what the commission structure is and what they can expect to earn in year one, two and three.”

If a role does not include a commission role, Allen says employers should consider additional benefits to attract the best talent.

“It’s important to think about the skills and personality you are trying to attract and what an effective remuneration model needs to look like to drive the right behaviours,” she says.

“For some, it might be flexible working hours and for others it might be the opportunity to take a year’s gap leave.”

With demand for key roles such as business development on rise, competition for sales talent may be about to heat up. Employers who take a flexible approach to recruitment look set to reach their talent targets.

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SEEK Insights & Resources New Zealand

SEEK is the destination of choice for job-seekers and hirers in New Zealand, acting as the conduit between hirers looking to fill vacant roles and candidates looking for work across many and varied industries. SEEK's mission is to help people live...

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