Where are all the salespeople?

September 22, 2010
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Sales has long been a great ticket into the middle class or maintaining a comfortable lifestyle, but the occupation has stopped growing, and is now losing numbers.

The positions boomed from the 1950s into the 1980s, and then the headcount leveled off in the past decade before shifting into reverse in 2007, according to an article in the online magazine Slate.com.

Lots of factors are at work. It’s harder to make a living selling cars, and pharmaceutical sales took a hit after Congress threw water on relationships between drug companies and doctors. And then there’s the Internet.

Writer James Ledbetter argues the sea change amounts to another strike at the heart of the middle class as some people in the nation move upscale and others drop into lower-wage occupations. Sales also played a key role in developing the mass consumption of the nation’s consumer-driven economy.

Any thoughts about sales and the people who make a living from it?

  • My living
    I have been in sales since 1991 and it's been great. There will always be sales pepole-any and every thing needs to be sold. The key is to be the best at it and your future will be secure.
  • Hacks
    The cream always rises to the top and there have been too many "sales hacks" riding the wave and unable to really sell. Now that the economy sucks and the "hacks" really have to work, they cut and run...No Coffee For You!
  • Performance
    I see no reduction in the number of sales jobs available. There IS a reduction in the number of non-performance sales positions.
  • reps
    One job, the manufacturers' representative, died a hard death with the Internet. (not completely, but to a great extent)

    I was a rep, out making sales calls in person for several manufacturers. I could make a certain amount of calls and get chances for my suppliers to quote.

    One of my suppliers started an Internet ad campaign and got in online directories (in about the year 2000) and got 400 qualified inquiries in the first 6 months. How could I possibly do that? I was a dinosaur and was out of business by 2003.
    • Merceded
      And now what are you doing?
    • Sales Trainer Chimes In
      I don't see a reduction in sales jobs, but I do see a reduction in salaried sales jobs. To me, this makes sense. Why pay a salary when performance is so easy to measure? I am not promoting commission only from day one, but I do think that the truly great sales people want to be commission compensated because they get paid for results. For those in sales who do not want to be performance compensated, I suggest you are not really in sales but perhaps account management or customer service. Sales is still the key to every company's success. Without sales, there is no money for marketing or production. Sure, we are adding new forms of marketing and buyers have more access to more information but at the end of the day, sales is what moves capital from one company to another.

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