Four Sales Talent Trends to Watch in 2021

repvue
repvueMay 12, 2021

There are a lot of shifts happening right now in terms of talent, and in particular sales talent, as we come down the back-side of the COVID era.  If you’re a sales professional or someone who cares about acquiring or retaining sales professionals on one of you teams, here are four critical trends to keep an eye on.

Competition for Sales Talent is Skyrocketing.

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise, but as the economy bounces back from COVID related issues, the competition for sales talent, particularly in b2b and tech, is out of control. 

This is being caused by two key factors. First the amount of equity being poured into growing technology and tech enabled organizations is at an all time high. 100M funding rounds are the norm. This capital is being used to drive growth and founders are expected to do whatever it takes to grow the sales organization.  Demand is outpacing the supply for talent.

Additionally, traditional geographic talent competition is gone. Used to hiring for your sales org in Seattle and Denver and used to knowing who your talent competitors are? Now, every major tech company is hiring in Denver. And Seattle. And Chicago. And Miami. Get the picture?

If talent organizations are not working to enhance their talent brand (sales talent brand in particular) nationally, they are falling behind.

The Remote Decision

We’ve spoken to a ton of sales and HR leaders who are still trying to ‘figure it out’.  If that’s the case with your organization, then you’re in the wrong bucket. Many organizations have already figured it out, and the winners here are going to be the ones that embrace the future of work.

The future of work is not commuting for 20 to 60 minutes and then spending 8:30 to 5:30 at your desk. 

It’s flexible. It’s remote. Maybe it’s hybrid. There really isn’t going to be some influx of new information that you’ll have access to in order to make your decision. COVID was simply a trigger for a big change that was eventually coming.

Even if the decision is to have many folks back in the office full time. Go ahead and communicate that now. Allow people as much advance notice as possible.

The Coming Attrition Wave

Sales attrition has been between 35 and 40% for the past few years. That number dipped for many companies once COVID hit. Sure there were layoffs, but then voluntary attrition slowed markedly, causing this dip. Many professionals who weren’t hit by layoffs decided it wasn’t the best time to make a move. Their job was stable, they had insurance, etc. Let’s wait this out.  Play it safe.  For now.

Many of these same employees would have made a move sans COVID, and once things get fully back to normal, those ‘delayed attritions’ are going to happen. If there were structural issues with the sales org that was causing someone to consider pulling the ripcord pre-COVID, it’s likely that many of those issues still exist. If you’re a sales leader – have you fixed them all?

If not get ready for the coming attrition wave.  This could be painful. At the same time, as a sales or talent organization, if you’re prepared for it, it could benefit you. Do you know which organizations are most at risk to lose good sales talent? Do you know where to recruit? Do you know why? Hmm…

Engagement with your Sales Floor

Remember the sales floor?  Many of them simply don’t exist any more, and the ones that are coming back are going to look pretty different than they did before.  Sales leaders aren’t going to be able to just step outside their office to keep a finger on the pulse of the sales org.

They won’t be able to have all those side conversations with the key team members, key AEs, to hear how things are going.  Sure there’s Zoom, Slack, call recording software, etc. but it’s not the same engagement. 

Some orgs will be in the office 2 days per week instead of 5. And the whole team may not be together in the office on those days (it may alternate).  Some orgs are going fully remote.  The bottom line is that it’s going to look different.

Sales leaders are going to need to engage in different ways to get a finger on the pulse of the organization.  They are going to need to engage with new applicants to capture the employee voice in real time, hear the feedback.

Sales professionals – do you feel confident and comfortable that your leadership is consistently ahead of the curve or are they behind the curve.  Proactive or reactive?

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