7 years ago
February 21, 2017

Did You Know That 1 in 4 of These Sales Jobs Could Disappear by 2020?

New sales research should be a wake up call to salespeople all over North America. Many sales jobs could disappear in the next five years. Read more.

Rhys Metler


New sales research from Forrester should be a wake up call to salespeople all over North America. While software salespeople at big companies like Oracle and Microsoft pull some of the largest six-figure salaries in the corporate world, Forrester’s principal analyst Andy Hoar believes many of those jobs will be obsolete in just five years’ time.

In fact, Hoar claimed that one in four B2B salespeople could be back on the job market by 2020. Of the 4.5 million B2B salespeople working in 2015, Forrester’s research finds that one million jobs will be net displaced in the next five years.

Fact Check: Will One in Four B2B Sales Jobs Simply Disappear?

It’s a grim outlook, but one that deserves a healthy dose of skepticism. Because of the high base salaries and higher commissions, many young salespeople are gunning for sales career opportunities at big technology companies. Of course, not all of them will make it in Silicon Valley.

Even so, that doesn’t mean the sky is falling. According to Forrester research, salespeople who function as glorified “order takers” are going to be replaced by self-service portals. To be sure, the emerging cloud market is eating many traditional software companies’ lunch as cheaper cloud options replace high-cost offerings from major tech firms like Oracle.

“If you look at really compelling websites, they provide things like how-to videos, detailed facts, and user-generated content,” Hoar said. “So as technology gets better at explaining things, we don’t need humans to explain any more.”

Even so, Forrester’s own research bears out a basic fact of life in sales—most buyers want to deal with a real, live human being. Fully 91% of B2B buyers prefer to interact with a salesperson, especially on price negotiations. Even though that figure comes from a Forrester survey, Hoar claims “software and algorithms” will replace many B2B sales career opportunities.

Now, obviously any industry changing as quickly as IT and software will see certain jobs become obsolete, but that would be true of any industry at any time. But in sectors like this where we also see high rates of innovation, new sales career opportunities are always created. No doubt many B2B sales jobs will be obsolete by 2020, and no doubt many new B2B sales jobs will be created to sell the software of the future.

There are a host of reasons to be skeptical of Forrester’s claims. They were initially touted at a Forrester conference, which means the numbers were likely intended to generate headlines (mission accomplished). Still, for those looking to follow a sales career path that ends in Silicon Valley, there’s no reason to worry that one in four types of sales jobs will simply vanish.

Across all industries, turnover for salespeople can be high—32% of salespeople have been with their company for less than a year. That means salespeople for hire can expect to face particularly fierce competition, high stakes, and high rewards in the technology sector for the foreseeable future.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.