As a software sales professional, I’m very much an advocate for long-term career prospects in the space, as well as earning potential. However, not everyone that is interested in a sales career loves the IT/software space, so I have comprised this research on the 5 best sales jobs across any industry.
When examining the best sales jobs in 2017, I’ve sorted them according to a number of categories; compensation, companies that hire and long-term career prospects. These aren’t your stereotypical door-to-door, Willy Loman-esque sales positions, but highly coveted roles that present the opportunity to earn significant compensation in complex and technical sales environments.
This list is meant to help open up your eyes to some of the most popular and respected sales professions in existence, so that you can evaluate a career that works well for you.
As usual, if you have any questions after reading through this content, check out the conclusion of the article for additional advice, how to contact me, etc.
The 5 Best Sales Jobs in 2017:
Software Sales Jobs
As I noted in the introduction to this post, I am presently a software sales professional, an Account Executive to be exact. Software Sales jobs are something that I’m extremely passionate about and speak to quite often. Heck, I’ve even written a book about “How (and why) to Start a Career in Software Sales”, which has been extremely well received by professionals throughout the world.
For me, the software sales industry is something that fits my criteria for a great career. It’s challenging, provides the potential for excellent compensation, terrific benefits and it’s something that I’m passionate about.
Software Sales Compensation and Companies that Hire
Compensation in the software sales world can vary depending upon your specific role; Account Executives, Account Managers, Sales Engineers, Sales Development Representatives all get paid in different ways.
The most common structure for direct sales positions, or Software Account Executives, is 50/50 compensation, meaning 50% of your compensation comes in the form of a base salary and the other 50% comes in the form of variable commissions.
While some entry level professionals in the software sales space might start off with compensation in the $45,000 – $60,000 base salary range, with an additional $45,000 – $60,000 in variable commissions, more seasoned enterprise professionals can easily double or triple those type of earnings. According to headhunter Paul McEwan in a recent interview,
Overall, at top-paying enterprise software companies like Oracle, SAP, HP, Microsoft, and IBM, the “top 20 percenters” — the 20% of salespeople in the company who consistently sell the most — make $250,000 to $350,000 a year, headhunters and enterprise sales people tell us.
The top 10 percenters “make from high the $200s to low the $400s, and are cranking in that zone, year after year,” McEwan says.
Mentioned in the article are big name software companies; Oracle, SAP, HP, Microsoft and IBM, that are constantly hiring (and paying top dollar) for sales reps. However, compensation and growth isn’t just limited to Fortune 500 type technology companies. For even more details on this, I covered a list of companies that are typically hiring for software sales talent, as well as platforms to find these type of opportunities in “How (and Why) to Start a Career in Software Sales”.
Long-term Career Prospects for Software Sales Jobs
While some sales professions have become phased out by technology and automation, the demand for software sales professionals who can execute complex deal cycles continues to grow significantly.
Examining long-term trends and the difficulty that many companies currently face in finding and filling roles for software sales positions, I believe that the long-term prospects in this industry are highly favorable towards job candidates.
Medical Device Sales Jobs
Medical Device Sales Jobs are coveted by many professionals for high compensation packages and the potential to truly provide value in the healthcare field. In addition to the perks of extremely competitive base salaries, bonus structures and comprehensive benefits packages, medical sales representatives can enjoy the work for a number of other reasons according to Robyn Melhuish of MedReps.com
Employees feel as though they are running their own small business. Another perk of working in medical sales is having a real opportunity to contribute to the field of healthcare. Sales reps are educating doctors about the cutting edge of medical innovation and technology.
By bringing their products into hospitals and doctor’s offices, they have a tangible effect on patient care. Knowing you help drive medicine forward every day can make a powerful impact. – Community Parade
High pay, entrepreneurial spirit and the potential to contribute actual good to society? Not a bad combination for a reason to get into Medical Device Sales.
Medical Device Sales Compensation and Companies that Hire
As previously stated, one of the most attractive things about a career in Medical Device Sales is the competitive compensation. Let’s take Stryker for example, a Fortune 500 medical technologies company that also happens to be on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Places to Work.
The average total compensation of a Stryker Medical Devices Sales Representative is $116,000 according to GlassDoor, with base salaries ranging up to $140,000 and commission sharing plans hitting even more than that amount.
In personal conversations with professionals in the medical device sales space, I’ve heard compensation ranges that can easily exceed $200,000 and range up to $400,000-500,000 depending upon years of experience, company, territory, products, etc.
Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs
Pharmaceutic Sales Jobs have become a popular career path for recent college graduates seeking competitive compensation packages, excellent benefits and long-term growth potential. Due to the continued aging of the population (and one can argue the increasing obesity epidemic), the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry has been moving at a steady pace, somewhat regardless of other macro trends.
Because of many of the below reasons, careers in pharmaceutical sales are often considered some of the best sales jobs out to work in.
Pharmaceutical Sales Compensation and Companies that Hire
Most commonly, pharmaceutical sales representatives are paid on a base salary + bonus/commission structure. For example, at a company like Pfizer, sales reps are paid a base salary between $55,000 – $125,000 per year (as self-reported on GlassDoor), with additional compensation coming in the form of structured bonuses and commissions. The bonus/commission plans are often variable depending upon individual and company performance.
Below is information directly from GlassDoor, containing the average salary for sales representatives within the most popular (or largest) pharmaceutical companies. Not only is this helpful in terms of understanding the type of compensation you can expect from a base salary perspective, but also some of the top companies hiring for these pharma sales rep jobs.
Long-term Career Prospects for Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs
Pharmaceutical Sales is sometimes discussed to be a “recession proof” job because there is typically a steady demand for the medicine offered and healthcare in general. Wall Street might crash, the “bubble” might pop in tech, but people will still need medicine regardless. This usually lends itself to strong long-term career prospects in pharmaceutical sales, although the industry is susceptible to mergers/acquisitions and the lay-offs that are associated with M&A.
Financial Sales Jobs
You might have a specific image of a Financial Sales Representative in your head. You might envision Jordan Belfort blindly cold-calling any schmuck with a phone and selling pink sheet stocks. Those days have largely disappeared (thanks to the invention of the internet and the ability for any layman to research stocks), but the Financial Sales industry is still a thriving one.
Today, Financial Sales Representatives meet with their clients to discuss new investment strategies and short/long-term financial goals, with the hope of providing a solution to meet their clients needs. There’s still cold-calling involved, typically to find new potential client relationships, but once a client is found, a Financial Sales Representative needs to possess great personal skills, knowledge of the financial markets, and actually be able to match a client’s needs with a solution that can add value.
Long-term Career Prospects for Financial Sales Jobs
The financial industry as a whole is rapidly becoming “disrupted” by FinTech (financial technology) companies that can automate significant portions of the investment process, IE Betterment, Wealthfront and Personal Capital. However, hiring growth is still occurring within the sector. According to the United States Department of Labor, the Job Outlook between 2014 and 2024 is estimated to grow at 10%.
You might also take note of 2015’s median pay for Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales agent at $71,550 per year, which is 2x the national average wage!
Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Sales Jobs
A popular post college graduate career path can be found in CPG Sales otherwise known as Consumer Packaged Goods. As companies fight for shelf space in super markets and the demand for products becomes more complex, CPG Sales professionals are required by some of the world’s most well-known companies.
Take PepsiCo as an example. In the video below, PepsiCo’s Campus Recruiting Manager, Troy Steece, discusses why he thinks PepsiCo has some of the best sales opportunities for CPG professionals on the market.
Benefits mentioned by Tony in the video include flexibility to move between roles and business lines, opportunities for growth, ability to gain true business to business sales experience and a structured interview processes.
Another company that hires in the space, RB, parent organization of household brands including Lysol, Air Wick, Mucinex and many more, is well known within the space for hiring both recent college graduates and experienced professionals. According to RB’s Sales Career Page,
When it comes to our trading partners, our sales team is the face of RB. From large supermarkets to smaller pharmacies and outlets, online or in-store – the key to our success is the team.
With a thorough understanding of stores and consumer behaviours, and a strong focus on P&L, we concentrate on excellent in-store activation, and consistently and speedily executing best practice everywhere we sell.
There are many sales careers in which someone can make a comfortable (or excellent) living. However, the previous five are, in my opinion, the best sales jobs at this point in time due to their high compensation, future outlook and career sustainability.
If you are considering a job in one of these sales industries, or think another position deserves consideration, sound off in the comments below or send me an email at [email protected]
“How (and why) to Start a Career in Software Sales” now available on Amazon! –
This is one of my most popular articles on Career Dreaming and something that I’m quite passionate about. I currently receive emails on a daily basis from professionals in multiple stages of their careers requesting assistance to get started in software sales. Because of the scale of outreach, I’ve decided to write a book on careers in Software Sales.
Entitled “How (and why) to Start a Career in Software Sales”, the book is now available for purchase on Amazon Kindle and Paperback! My goal is to answer the questions that I’ve been asked on a consistent basis, discuss the positives (and negatives) regarding a career in software in sales and outline a clear guide to getting started in the profession.
The book, which was released May 2nd, 2016, has received fantastic feedback some far from readers of all experience levels and backgrounds. Just take for example what reader Alex sent to me after reading the book via email!
“Hey Rob, Just wanted to follow up after reading your book. I binge read the whole thing in an hour. I couldn’t get enough of it and just kept turning the pages. After reading through your posts on the website combined with reading the book, I am confident that a career in software sales is something that I would love pursue.” – Alex
Want to read the book’s first chapter? Click below
If you’d like to take a read through the first chapter of “How and Why to Start a Career in Software Sales”, absolutely free, you can click on the button below for access to the content. Take a read through the first chapter and that should help you to understand if a career in software sales is something that you’d really like to pursue, then the rest of the book covers how to do it.
Click HERE for your Free Book Chapter