Demand for sales staff soars

Tim Sheahan, PrintWeek

The demand for sales executives and account managers has dramatically increased in the midst of the recession, while technical positions have experienced a severe dip, according to industry recruitment businesses.

The escalation in demand for sales staff comes as the latest job report from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation/KPMG highlighted further decline in salaries throughout February with vacancies contracting at the fastest rate in the survey’s history.

George Thompson, joint managing director of print recruitment business Harrison Scott Associates, said the current demand for sales staff “is unprecedented” with vacancies in January and February up 115% on the first two months of 2008.

The company recorded a 35% increase in the demand for account management staff while the requirement for sales management positions also jumped 15% on last year.

At Harrison Scott, the greatest demand was for portfolio salesmen which, according to Thompson, “are the gladiators of the sales world and command the highest salaries but put the most amount of pressure on themselves.”

Dani Novick, managing director of Mercury Search and Selection, said that “employers and employees are now taking longer to make decisions, people are more nervous about making such choices.”

She added that while some companies are actively recruiting salespeople, such choices are often “short-sighted” with an unsupported potential increase in sales.

Novick also warned that neglecting the operational and technical side of the business can prove to be a shortfall once the market changes.

“This is an ageing industry with an average age of 47. Customer demands are changing so you have to keep up with the market. Now could be a good time to look into digital print or maybe take up an apprentice.”

Thompson echoed this and said that while there has been a fall in demand for production and operations management, those that are hiring are attracted to those with lean manufacturing experience.

“Candidates with a yellow, green or black belt of six sigma, or Kaizan will normally stand a better chance of securing a role than those without,” he said.

Kirstie Whitehead, sales director at Key Recruitment, echoed this and said: “We’re seeing a much higher demand for sales people that some may believe will increase turnover from day one, which isn’t going to happen.

“While there has been more of an emphasis on sales, if the production expertise is not there, sales are already on the back foot.”

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