Spring recruitment update for sales professionals in London, with tips on how to maintain momentum in your career.
Overview of sales recruitment
It was a good start to the year for sales recruitment. January took a few weeks to get started but then things really took off in the final weeks of the month with more hiring decisions being made. As we approached the end of the quarter, COVID-19 developments started to impact hiring within sales (as well as the majority of other disciplines), with a number of hiring processes being put on hold.
Overall, real salaries and wages have not been driven up by market forces, and have remained at typical CPI yearly increases ~2.5% (unless in a heavily demanded (technical) role). Bonuses were not as good as previous years but employees were generally unsurprised having been exposed to the market last year. Similarly, commissions paid for 2019 performance were a little lower than the previous year, however there were some exceptional performances by sales professionals across the fintech and payments industry, with some taking home up to four times their expected OTE.
Popular roles included Sales Directors (sales management positions); Business Development Managers (new business sales) and Account Leads / Directors (senior account management positions).
On the interim side, across industries, most roles in Sales and Account Management have been deemed to be ‘inside IR35’ and therefore a number of Limited Company Contractors have had to migrate to a PAYE or Umbrella model to continue their contracts from April 2020. Whilst the recent Government news means that some firms will now delay their IR35 implementation until April 2021, as a lot of time, effort and resources has been put into it already, some firms may continue with their determinations.
In the FinTech & Payments industry the market has been fairly buoyant for senior hiring, particularly Director-level roles. We have seen a number of new Director (and above) level appointments both in established companies and startups, as well as a number of internal promotions at this level. A number of these hires were made following processes which started in the last quarter of 2019.
Digital banks or disruptor banks such as Monzo, Revolut and N26 have continued to gain a foothold in the market as customers’ perceptions of traditional banks appear to have waned with respect to best value for money. We have also seen the rise of Buy Now Pay Later options due to the typical millennial consumer moving away from credit cards. Multiple payment providers and gateways are launching and scaling out their platform/solutions in order to take market share away from large credit card providers and this has resulted in an increase in Sales recruitment.
Gender diversity has and will continue to be a major point of contention for the Financial Services and Banking and Insurance world, particularly from a Sales perspective. A number of businesses have put strong emphasis on hiring female talent, particularly at senior management level. Commitments to promote and headhunt female executives at a board level from a recruitment perspective have stayed strong.
A few tips on how to maintain momentum in your sales career
- Network over LinkedIn with high billers and senior leaders in your discipline.
- Tailor your CV to each role and make your targets and achievements clear.
- Preparation for interviews is key. Use the resources available to you to prepare ahead of meetings. For example, do you share any mutual LinkedIn connections/interests with the interviewer that could help you within the interview?
- Know the product. Read up on the company’s unique selling points about their products or services and note their main competitors.
- Network with recruiters to understand your market value and your career options
- Take regular exercise, particularly in sales where you’re often running high on adrenaline, keeping physically fit is essential.
- Stay healthy. In times of uncertainty (Covid-19) keeping mentally healthy is key. Take regular breaks, drink lots of water and look to incorporate light exercise into your daily routine. Keep to a regular schedule to ensure you are not overworking.
- Mentoring and management. If you want to manage people long-term, grab any opportunity to train and mentor junior team members to upskill yourself.
- Perfect your pitch. Be sure to have a strong elevator pitch up your sleeve at all times. Sign up to presentation training if you need to further upskill your presenting skills.
- Be adaptable. Be prepared for change and embrace it. Find the positives in the situation and demonstrate true salesmanship by finding opportunities where others have not found them.
Certainly we are in very surreal times as we revert to ‘war time’ approaches and companies adapt to remote-working models.
Luckily, it is an opportunity for companies to embrace working from home and increased flexibility and thanks to the continued use of digital technologies, we are able to accommodate hiring needs and continue recruitment processes during tough times.
Traditionally, we see more permanent vacancies in the second quarter of the year, following bonus payouts. This might be stunted by the COVID-19 developments, however there will still be an appetite to hire, albeit possibly later in the year, when hopefully we are through the worst of COVID-19.
We have unfortunately seen a number of sales professionals being let go towards the end of March (often those who have recently started in a new role, therefore being let go due to being the last in the door rather than due to poor performance), due to the situation with COVID-19. Therefore, once hiring picks back up again, employers are likely to have an abundant pool of talent to pick from. Whether this surge in hiring will come this quarter or in the second half of the year, we are yet to find out. If employers are currently still in a position to hire, the second quarter will be a great time to have first pick of all this available talent before the market picks up again.