Wanted: Online experience

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As b-to-b publishers start hiring salespeople again, the demand for experience in online selling is starting to outstrip supply.

"B-to-b is pretty hot right now," said Beth Thorbahn Reeves, senior VP at Howard Sloan Koller, a media, advertising and entertainment recruiting company. "Since January, it has come back with a flourish."

"Since the beginning of the year, we've been very busy, but last year was pretty good," said Donna Naidich, an executive recruiter at Lynne Palmer Executive Recruitment.

"I saw a big shift last September and October as people were budgeting for 2005," said Don Leon, who heads the publishing practice for 6-year-old Stephen Bradford Search. As publishers' budgets were growing, "they needed more talent on the street right away," Leon said.

While recruiters usually get the higher-level, higher-salary sales positions, online job sites are preferred for junior-level openings. At, online job postings keep breaking records, said Laurel Touby, CEO and founder. "We celebrate every time the number of postings goes up by 100 jobs," she said. "We used to do that about once a year. Now, it seems to be every six weeks."

Hiring managers are looking for two kinds of salespeople: seasoned professionals with established relationships in a publisher's specific industry segment and individuals with at least some sales experience on the Internet.

Leon said he's seen a tremendous growth in demand for sales jobs in the online space. "Having online sales experience is almost a mandate," he said. "Employers are impatient. Some of them are literally losing business because they don't have someone in the seat to respond when [requests for proposals] come in. But the demand exceeds the [available] talent."

Naidich agreed that some posts go unfilled because of the scarcity of experienced people. "We have jobs that are solely online or a combination of print and online, and we're hard-pressed to place someone who doesn't have Internet sales experience," she said. Meanwhile, some of the people with the most online experience-those who worked with dot-com companies-are often gun-shy. "I call them about a placement and they'll immediately say, `I don't want just online,' " Naidich said. 

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