SEEK Employment Trends New Zealand: spotlight on the sales industry

Numbers have always been a focus for the sales industry. Whether it’s hitting a budget or negotiating a price, figures play a key role within the sector. But as the prevalence of customer data increases, numbers are taking on a whole new meaning and experts say this is helping to shape employment trends within the industry.

The latest data from the SEEK Employment Trends report shows the appetite for analysis and reporting roles within the sales sector increased by 34% in the four months leading to January 2016 compared to the same time the year before.


The dominance of data

Andrew Jacques, General Manager of sales and marketing company CPM Australia, which also has clients across New Zealand, says data has had a significant impact on the sales industry. “Technology now captures what people are purchasing, why they’re purchasing it or why they’re not,” he says. “There’s a huge increase in the data that is being generated at the coal face of sales and there’s a growing need to interpret it and draw conclusions that can benefit a business.”

While data is increasingly important within the sales industry, Brien Keegan, New Zealand Country Manager of recruitment firm Randstad, says the volume can be overwhelming. “Some companies are struggling with an overload of data and it can be challenging to find one source of truth,” he says.

This is leading to a relatively strong demand for analyst and reporting roles, says Jacques. “There’s a growing need for analysis of customer spending patterns as it can show opportunities for retaining and growing the business relationship,” he explains. “Analysis also plays an important role in business acquisition today.”



Demand for sales coordinators

SEEK data also shows a relatively strong demand for sales coordinators. Job ads for the role increased by 24% in the three-month period leading to January 2016 compared to the same time period the year before. Jacques believes this may also be fuelled by the rise in data. “As more data becomes available it requires coordination,” he says. “Coordinators support sales people out in the field, but their role also relates to back office and reporting.”

Jacques adds that as sales coordinators tend to be an entry-level role, the increase in demand may also reflect a desire of companies to save on recruitment budgets. “They may be looking to save money by putting their spend into coordinator roles rather than higher-paid front-line sales staff,” he says.”



A drop in demand for business development

While demand for account and relationship management roles remained unchanged, management roles declined by 9% in the three months to January 2016, compared to the same time period the year before. Job ads for new business development roles also dropped by 19% over the same period.

“The sales approach of getting out there and winning new business is becoming less prevalent as we see the rise of the digital sales cycle,” says Jacques. “We’re seeing clients spending more money in the digital awareness space and that is perhaps having an impact on the budget for business development roles. If you think of an acquisition spend as a pool of funds, there is more going into the digital space than to feet on the street. We’re certainly seeing that in some of our work in New Zealand.”



Salaries appear stable

Salaries have been stable in the sales sector over the past four months compared to recent history. Just as demand increased for analysis and reporting roles, so too did the average full-time salary for the role in January 2016, now sitting at $83,095.

Sales representative/consultant roles also saw a 5% year-on-year increase in salary to $68,606. Salaries for sales coordinator roles grew by 9% over the same period to $53,056.

Salaries for new business development roles decreased by 5% year-on-year to $81,209. Account and relationship management roles also experienced a drop in average salary, which was down by 6% year-on-year to $72,080.



An even playing field

Although current candidate availability suggests reasonable conditions for both job-seekers and employers in the sales sector, Jacques cautions that it can be challenging to keep good sales staff. “We find that front-line sales staff are looking for opportunities to build their career quickly and so they can be quite transient,” he says. “I think employers need to think beyond the base-and-bonus model for new employee benefits. Sales staff are looking for good experience and to be exposed to different areas of a business to stay interested.”

As the role of data continues to shape the sales industry, it will be interesting to watch as new trends emerge. Jacques predicts demand for reporting and sales roles will continue to be relatively strong. “We now have a data-driven environment, so these roles are so important in the industry,” he says.



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