Demand for electric cars is set to triple by 2021, resulting in a growing demand for sales support talent in the automotive sector, according to staffing specialist Walters People. Stefanie Vanderleyden, managing consultant in the business support division at Walters People, explains what opportunities sales professionals can expect in this rapidly evolving sector.
What exactly does an inside sales professional do?
Stefanie: "An inside sales representative reports to the sales supervisor. As the job title says, he or she mainly works from the office and does not go out on the road like an account manager, for example. As an inside sales employee, you manage your own customer portfolio from A to Z: you handle the orders of existing customers, analyze the results, give advice and come with sustainable solutions. In addition, you map out the potential market by actively approaching potential customers and analyzing their needs. You make quotations and follow them up meticulously. You also keep close contact with suppliers. On an administrative level, you ensure that new orders are processed quickly and you keep the database up-to-date."
What skills does a successful inside sales professional need to have?
"First of all, an inside sales professional must have a commercial attitude. A real salesperson, who works with a focus on results and who is keen on targets. You are in daily contact with customers, prospects and suppliers, so effective communication skills are also necessary. Speaking several languages is obviously a plus," says Stefanie.
Of course, not everything runs smoothly every day. In busy periods, it is important to be able to set priorities, be well-organized and handle stress. "Does something go wrong? Then the inside sales professional is expected to be empathetic and problem-solving, to think along with the customer and come up with a solution quickly."
What about the demand for inside sales professionals in today's labour market?
Stefanie: "In the past year, we have seen the demand for inside sales staff increase month by month, with an absolute peak in the fourth quarter. At that time, the number of vacancies was no less than 39% higher than in the first quarter of 2021.
In general, we can say that this increase applies to multiple sectors, but we especially notice that the automotive sector is leading the way. The automotive sector plays a significant role in our evolution towards a more ecological and sustainable economy. The demand for electric cars has tripled in the past year compared to 2020. To meet that demand, there is a need for sales professionals. And they don't necessarily have to be people with loads of experience: there are also plenty of great opportunities in this sector for school leavers with a bachelor's degree or starters with a first job.”
What growth opportunities are there for starting inside sales employees?
"If you start your career in an inside sales role, then this is an excellent start to develop quickly both professionally and personally. You gain a lot of knowledge in a brief period, get to know the ins and outs of the organization thoroughly and are the first to know when an interesting opportunity arises within the sales department.
Do you like the commercial part? Then you can grow into an outside sales or account manager position, for example. Do you have more experience, and do you want to pass on your knowledge to new employees? Then, provided you have the necessary people management skills, you can grow into the role of sales supervisor."
What salary can an inside sales professional expect?
"If you have just obtained a bachelor's degree and are starting as an inside sales employee, you can expect a salary of EUR 2000-2500 gross per month. Professionals with 3-6 years of experience in a sales support function will earn on average EUR 2500-3000 gross per month. From the moment you have more than 6 years' experience, you can count on a gross salary of 2600-3800 EUR per month. On top of that, there are usually extras such as luncheon vouchers or a transport allowance, eco vouchers, an insurance package and possibly an annual bonus.
Some organizations give their employees discounts on their products. In the automotive sector, for example, you can opt for a personal leasing car at beneficial conditions. And not unimportant: most organizations currently offer their employees the possibility to telework," concludes Stefanie.
Interested in becoming an inside sales professional?