Emerging Trends in Sales Careers

Psales rep

 Tom Merton / Getty Images

For the most part, sales careers have remained static throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Most sales professionals were either considered full-time employees or were hired under a 1099 contractor agreement. Those considered full-time were usually offered health care benefits, vacation and sick time, retirement plans and received a salary plus commissions. Those under a 1099 were almost always paid in straight commission, received no benefits and were able to work the hours they wanted to work.

Change, however, is the one constant which no industry can claim exemption from.

From Outside to Inside

Check your favorite job posting board and you are sure to see an increase in the number of employers looking to hire Inside Sales Reps. The reason behind this trend comes down to 2 main factors: First is the costs involved in employing Inside and Outside sales reps and the second factor is activity demands.

Outside sales reps, on average, cost more to employ than do inside reps. This is due to the expenses related to travel expenses and customer visits. Many employers include either travel reimbursements into the compensation packages of their sales reps or pay their employees a set figure to cover their travel expenses. In addition, it is very common for outside sales reps to take their clients out to lunch or to other events and expect their employer to pick up the costs. With inside reps, there is no need to cover travel expenses, except for travel for training purposes and covering client lunches is something that inside reps very seldom do.

The other driving factor which is creating more jobs for inside sales is how much more activity can be squeezed into a typical workday. While the actual numbers vary, the typical outside sales rep makes between 7 and 12 customer calls per day. It simply takes a lot of time to visit customers face to face. With inside reps, however, it is not uncommon for a sales rep to call on 100 clients per day. This drastic increase in "activity expectations" is a very attractive reason for employers to hire more inside sales reps.


Sales professionals who earn commissions can, and often do earn substantial incomes. This ability to earn commissions has created a sense of "suspicion" among consumers as many feel that commissioned sales professionals are more interested in earning money than in providing them with the best possible value.

Employers recognize this suspicion and have begun proudly advertising that their sales professionals do not work on commissions. The attempt is to get consumers to believe that the sales professionals will not be motivated to sell them a product or service for any more money than what they sell the product or service for to anyone else. In other words, non-commissioned sales reps have nothing to gain by charging top dollar.

This trend does have the potential of driving very talented, and therefore valuable employees to seek another employer. Capping the income potential of sales professionals is seldom a good idea.

Part-time and 1099

With the costs of full-time employees growing each year, many employers are hiring more part-time sales professionals or choosing 1099 or Independent Sales Professionals over full-time employees. The reasoning behind this growing trend is that employers can have more sales professionals "working" for them if the employees do not come with the financial burdens that are associated with having full-time employees.

While independent and part-time sales professionals may not individually produce the same revenue results as a talent full-time employee might, employers believe that the results will equal out if they have more reps selling for them. And if the revenues stay the same and their employment costs are lower, the company can either be more profitable or more price-competitive.