Staffing/Market Research authorities Manpower and LinkedIn have recently released two studies that illustrate the increasingly intense demand for salespeople, and how companies are doing their best to adapt. These are both great reads, and my biggest take-away was that the #3 most difficult position to fill in 2014 was “Sales Representative.” To put that into perspective, “IT Staffing” and “Engineering” positions came in 8th and 9th respectively, and are traditionally thought of as two of the more challenging and brutally competitive areas of staffing.

I recently came across another interesting and surprising study conducted by This includes a number of statistics, which show that truly effective salespeople are actually a rarity. Did you know? – the best reps are 250% better at qualifying leads, 67% of reps miss quota, and only 52% can effectively access decision makers!

These studies show that the best salespeople are harder to find than ever, and that demand is heating up. What does it mean for you?


  • Your skills are more in-demand than ever before, especially for top performers. It might make sense to explore career options, even if you are happy in your current position. You might be surprised at what’s out there if it’s been a while.
  • When you do interview, make sure you are vetting companies just like they are vetting you. When the time is right, don’t be afraid to ask the same type of specific performance-based questions that you are answering throughout the interview process.
  • It might be time to ask for that raise or promotion, although accepting anything like this in the form of a counter-offer is not generally advised.

Hiring Managers/Recruiters…

  • Be realistic and flexible. How competitive is your sector? Where is the position located? How much experience are you looking for? How attractive is your brand, culture, compensation, advancement, etc… compared to the market? Being unrealistic or taking the same approach to different positions are common mistakes.
  • The most successful companies seem to be the most creative and varied in their approach. Using multiple sources will help you see more of the talent pool in much less time. This includes using staffing firms (shameless plug), which is similar to selling through a channel program and can provide access to a wider range of talent.
  • Despite the challenges, it’s still not just about filling the position. Remember the Sabrematrics term WAR (Wins Above Replacement) when there is an open position. The difference between a bad hire and an all-star can be millions of dollars, even over a relatively short time period.