Unemployment Hits 16-Year High, but Solution Providers Still Struggle to Fill Sales Jobs

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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Even as unemployment claims hit a 16-year high, IT solution providers say it is still difficult to find good sales people to fill open sales jobs.

The number of workers filing new unemployment claims for jobless benefits jumped last week to the highest level in 16 years, according to data from the U.S. Labor Department, with 542,000 new unemployment claims in the week ended Nov. 15 from a revised 515,000 new unemployment claims for the previous week.

But don't tell that to IT solution providers who are looking for just a few good sales people.

"We interview sales people constantly," says Stephen Alexander, president of Third Eye Technologies, a solution provider based in Nanuet, N.Y., who spoke to Channel Insider during distributor Tech Data's recent TechSelect event in Washington D.C. "We are always looking for good sales people."

And Jonathan Register, vice president of operations at Raleigh, N.C.-based solution provider Alphanumeric, says "we are also adding engineering sales" to the mix of sales people at his organization.

Solution providers at Tech Data's recent TechSelect event agreed with Gartner vice president and Tech Select speaker Tiffani Bova's assertion that "you are either a salesperson or you are not a salesperson." According to these solution providers, that's absolutely true, and even in this economy they are having a hard time finding good salespeople.

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Register notes that the people who are really experiencing job loss these days are those who work for large companies such as Sun Microsystems, Verizon and Lenovo. These large, publicly held companies need to make their financials look good for shareholders, and so they typically trim jobs in this kind of economy.

But solution providers have typically run a lean organization all along and are less likely to be contemplating layoffs. Rather, they are still looking for those good salespeople. And those good salespeople may not want to move from one place to another in the current uncertain economy. "People are wanting to stay put," says Debra Candido, vice president of administration for Manhattan Information Systems in New York City. And former employees of those big, publicly held tech companies that may find themselves pounding the pavement looking for a new job aren't the first choice as hires for these solution providers.
"People from big companies expect a lot more support," says Alexander. And at many of these lean solution provider organizations, you have to make your own way without the kind of big infrastructure available to Sun Microsystems employees, for example.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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