"Now, instead of a single point of contact, you may be dealing with a corporate board," says Michael Bremmer, chief executive officer of TelecomQuotes.com, a provider of telecommunications negotiations and procurement based in Moreno Valley, Calif. "This stretches out the sales cycle. It could also toughen the job of closing on a sale that a few years ago might have been won on the basis of a good price." Tim Kilroy, a father of five, changed jobs about a year ago to become a sales representative for three companies, all in some ways linked to technology. The payoff: He raked in between $250,000 and $500,000 last year.
His full-time job is selling advertising for Triggit, an online firm based in San Francisco. And on evenings and weekends, he's a part-time sales rep for two Internet companies that produce social analytic software.
"In sales, if you're good at your job, you can go from making a lot of money most of the time to making an incredible amount all the time," says Mr. Kilroy, who works from home in Arlington, Mass.
Kilroy is part of the rebirth of the salesperson – someone who was supposed to become obsolete in the Internet Age. In theory, people were all going to start doing their buying directly online. No need for legions of salesclerks.
Instead, in some ways the Internet is expanding the need for salespeople – particularly those who sell scientific and technical products and services, which can be lucrative. In 2010, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, these sales engineers earned a median annual salary of $87,390 (including base pay, bonuses, and commissions), making that the highest paid of all sales categories. In second place were sales reps in wholesale and manufacturing, specifically for technical and scientific products, who earned a median yearly income of $73,710.
Moreover, the growth of jobs in those areas will exceed that for the sales profession overall. During the 2010-20 decade, the BLS projects that jobs for sales engineers will climb 14.4 percent, while sales rep jobs in wholesale and manufacturing for technical and scientific products will advance 16.4 percent.