Four Predictions for Hiring in Sales Through 2022
By Lisa Welch, SVP Sales, Forma.ai
The world is behaving very strangely.
The bellwethers of downtown are mixed with elements like sinking unemployment and continuing talk of the Great Resignation, making a confusing picture for investors and business leaders.
For the last few years, the mantra has been “growth at any cost,” but as central banks look to rein in inflation, organizations are adopting more measured and considered strategies.
We don’t know how bad things will get — how deep the market might fall or how long we’ll face headwinds — but we can be sure that market conditions will continue to change rapidly for at least the next 18 months.
“The balance of 2022/23 lies in how well we prepare for the massive unknowns ahead.”
The balance of 2022/23 lies in how well we prepare for the massive unknowns ahead and our ability to monitor and react to changes in the environment.
It’s one of the challenges that we talk about daily at Forma.ai, a sales performance management solution company. The data and challenges that Fortune 500 clients and prospects share give us insight into the current obstacles facing business leaders. Here are a few trends we see in sales hiring through 2022.
Tech sales hiring will stay static or ramp up.
Talk of the Great Resignation is still in the headlines, but we’re already seeing large enterprises adjust hiring expectations and trim employee numbers. The rate of new job listings is also decreasing rapidly, while the number of people in the workforce continues to fall. It’s a confusing picture.
Sales hiring levels will likely stay around the same until we see some big swings in the leading indicators. Many organizations that we have witnessed laying off their workforce have all stated that they had hired over-optimistically over the last 12 months and were adapting to a very different market outlook to the one we had in January.
The goal is never to let people go. Organizations will still need to hire to keep up with normal attrition, and many will continue to open new positions as soon as they can justify it or have more confidence in the market.
Tech sales will still be a growing sector.
People and businesses need technology, and that need will only increase. According to LinkedIn’s 2022 list of Most In-Demand Jobs Right Now, salespeople are the second most in-demand job. There’s been an increase in the number of job posts on LinkedIn looking for employees in sales, and the field is growing post-pandemic.
“The Great Resignation is more like The Great Upskill.”
One reason so many hospitality and service roles have gone unfilled is that many employees have acquired new skills during the pandemic and taken on positions in tech sales and support in search of a better lifestyle. The Great Resignation is more like “the Great Upskill.”
This trend should stick around for the rest of 2022 and beyond, as tech companies will continue to grow over the long term and offer better earning and career opportunities. I expect business leaders will also continue looking to improve sales productivity through technology and improved training.
Even the rise of product-led growth companies won’t negatively affect sales roles, although it depends on the business. Many consumer product sales roles may change, but we still need sales reps for enterprise-level deals and account execs to support and upsell existing accounts.
Pay should increase this year.
The demand for qualified tech sales reps matches the talent demand in the technology industry, and salaries are increasing.
Despite layoffs in tech and recession fears, sales reps should expect their pay to increase this year. There are more unfilled job positions than qualified people to fill them. This is the simplest illustration of low supply and high demand creating marketing inefficiency.
The most successful companies will offer the best earning potential. Salaries and compensation packages should increase this year to attract employees. Inflation has hit a record high, so a sales rep’s salary does not have the same buying power as a year ago. That will all put upward pressure on wages.
Sales work will continue to be flexible.
According to LinkedIn data, more than 80% of companies have started to offer greater flexibility to their employees; the smartest employers looking to attract talent will provide remote options.
For sales teams, hybrid and remote working is really nothing new. The pandemic made it more common, but salespeople have always been in and out of the office. Many have worked on the road for years.
“…there is no substitute for a physical exchange of energy.”
There is huge value in face-to-face meetings, which is why salespeople have flown and driven all over the world to attend them. It may be true that a sale made in your HQ isn’t worth more than one made 10 or 100 miles away at a salesperson’s home. However, deals are based on trust and human relationships. In that regard, there is no substitute for a physical exchange of energy—no matter how good your video and audio setup might be.
There is still value to in-person teams and learning, and the companies that facilitate those opportunities while providing working flexibility will have the edge when hiring.
Building resilient businesses
We can be sure that our predictions for the future will change by the end of this year — for better or worse. And we’ll likely only see changes in the business landscape accelerating beyond that.
The task for business leaders is to build more agile, resilient businesses, primarily by investing in better analytics and process automation technology. The more companies understand their data and how changing conditions impact their business, the faster and better they can react to them.
As a result, technology companies that use data to optimize efficiency and productivity will likely continue to see growth, even if we experience a prolonged recession. It’s a still great time to be in tech sales —particularly data-driven tech — and I don’t expect that to change soon!