Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sales jobs likely to grow in next decade

by Austen Sherman The Arizona Republic Jul. 24, 2010 08:18 PM

Sales is a profession that is as diverse as any. But that's especially true in today's economy, where it seems as though just about anything is for sale. As the economy rebounds and spending increases, sales jobs should become more available.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates sales positions should see up to a 10 percent growth over the next 10 years. The positions often do not require direct supervision, allowing a company headquartered across the country to employ sales representatives at a satellite office or from their homes.

A quick search online for sales positions in Arizona reveals a number of opportunities from businesses throughout the nation.

Offeretti Inc. is an Internet startup based in Richmond, Va., that reaches out to local businesses to provide its users with daily coupons or special offers for services in their areas.

Timo Selvaraj, co-founder of Offeretti, helped launch the company about eight months ago and has been spending time on the phone trying to "recruit folks."

"We are looking for at least five people in every major town or city," Selvaraj said. "We are looking for local businesses to get the ideas out and have daily offers."

The startup is looking for those with sales or advertising experience and is offering a 40 percent commission. Those interested should visit and follow the prompts under the "contact us" link.

"We want people in every community," Selvaraj said.

Paycom Inc. is also a national brand, providing online payroll services and human-resource management. The company has an office based in Phoenix that currently has multiple sales positions available.

Zach Miller, Paycom's Arizona sales manager, said his office seeks to add three more representatives to its current roster of seven staff members.

The payroll company offers full benefits to its employees, including medical and dental, and depending on success offers some of its employees pre-initial public-offering equity grants. Employees are paid a base salary supplemented by a commission from sales, Miller said.

"The drive to succeed is the most important thing. It's intangible, but you need that fire in your belly," he said. "Sales can be a difficult gig when dealing with rejection, you have to have that overpowering drive."

Paycom's sales positions do require a bachelor's degree, and while experience isn't necessary it is preferred.

Interested parties should visit to apply. Those who make the cut online will be contacted by the corporate recruiting office and pre-screened before being referred to regional managers for a local interview.

Open positions are not only available online. Placement agencies have seen a recent increase in sales-representative jobs.

"Sales positions have started to come back again. For a while there, we saw hardly anything moving," said Sonja Cotton, president of Sonja Cotton and Associates in Phoenix.

But while the positions are out there, it is important to keep in mind that sales jobs are not for everyone.

Kim Ruggiero, a professor of practice at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business, teaches a professional sales- and strategic-account management class and has been involved in sales for more than 30 years at AT&T and Verizon.

"It definitely isn't for everyone," she said. "But it could be. It just depends on what kind of sales work they want to do."

Ruggiero said there are probably 40 traits that are of high value for sales positions, with ethics and integrity among the most important.

However, she said the most important characteristic is a positive attitude and enthusiasm.

"You can train someone to be a communicator, you can teach them the products, but you can't teach them to have a positive attitude," Ruggiero said.

Jim Kaiser, president and CEO of Kaiser Companies LLC in Phoenix, started his sales-consulting firm about four years ago.

According to Kaiser, while many positions may be available, it is common knowledge within the industry that 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people. Kaiser believes it is because of misconceptions about working in sales.

"Salespeople are viewed as the guys and gals that go play golf, go to dinners, have big expense accounts," he said. "That view is absolutely skewed. Good salespeople are one of the hardest-working people in the organization."

Ruggiero said sales representatives who are always "trying to sell" often fail, because you can't sell until you're aware of a client's needs.

"People used to spend so much time talking about 'closing,' " Ruggiero said. "It is about solving problems and showing clients what the future can look like."

According to Ruggiero, a recent study said 66 percent of college graduates go into sales positions, justifying the creation of the almost 4-year-old Professional Sales and Relationship Management Initiative, specifically designed for students who wish to pursue a career in professional sales.

Kaiser has worked to help educate those interested in sales, having previously taught sales at ASU through the school of communications and creating an online sales program for Rio Salado College in Phoenix.

However, not everyone agrees that a sales education in the classroom automatically translates to success in the field.

"It is one of the only professions you don't need an advanced degree to (potentially) make hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Paycom's Miller.

Growth expected in sales jobs

Sales reps2008 2018*Total change% change
Wholesale and manufacturing1,973,2002,116,400143,2006.8%
Technical and scientific products432,900475,00042,1008.9%
Other sales reps1,540,3001,641,400101,1006.2%


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sales jobs likely to grow in next decade

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