The report is compiled from a variety of sources including vacancy data, candidate
salaries, client survey information and specific sector reports.
As a business we interview over 500 sales candidates per week, speak to 2000
decision makers and have a national presence with 7 offices throughout the UK. This
gives us access to a wealth of regional and national data, information on candidate
salaries and job expectations and insight into the challenges facing decision makers.
The index is produced quarterly and provides organisations with a good barometer of
trends in the UK sales recruitment market.
We specialise in recruiting high calibre people across the UK, Ireland and Australia.
Our network of offices gives us strong local presence and allows us to support a long
list of blue-chip clients who view us as partners they can trust.
We have grown to become a leading force in our field placing more people than ever
before. But we haven’t let our standards slip. We take the time to get to know you,
your business and the type of people you need. We tailor our services to ensure the
right recruitment solution for your business. In short, we make things run smoothly
and produce results.
2| BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index - Published July 2013
BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index
With output up across the UK, and the British Chamber of
Commerce suggesting business confidence is at its highest point
since 2007, at long last businesses have some small reason to be
Aside from the fact that we have seen economic false
dawns before, an upturn in business confidence and
the tentative shoots of recovery actually pose serious
questions for personnel departments, and the sales
teams they support.
According to the BMS Quarterly Sales Index,
employee retention is becoming a very real issue.
It was uncertainty and a lack of confidence, rather than the effectiveness of retention strategies,
that kept staff turnover low during the downturn. With candidate confidence now returning to the job
market, many sales leaders fear the loss of their star performers - forcing them to work harder to keep
their teams together.
“Seventy percent of companies
believe they are going to have to
work harder to retain their best
people in the coming months.”
Chart One: Will you have to work harder to retain staff if the economy improves?
Firms are responding. Across the board, they’re
continuing to invest in a range of retention strategies.
Today’s developing communications technologies
are enabling new forms of flexible working, which
according to Chart Two, has led to a third of firms
now offering these opportunities to their teams – a
growth of nearly 70% on last quarter’s figures.
3| BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index - Published July 2013
Retention concerns as economy gears for growth
“It was uncertainty and a lack
of confidence, rather than
the effectiveness of retention
strategies that kept staff turnover
low during the downturn.”
Similarly, and perhaps more significantly, firms are
willing to increase base salaries to counter offers for
their best people – a jump of over 40% on last quarter’s
findings. The BMS Index has consistently raised the
issue of salary as a reason for losing (and failing to
secure) good salespeople. The fact that the industry has
taken action shows a positive development across the
vast majority of sectors.
“We’ve seen a rise this quarter
in the number of companies
offering higher salaries,
improved benefits and flexible
working. A real sign that
companies are starting to act.”
Chart Two: What are you doing to retain your best people?
The medical sector is particularly bullish, with
over a third of organisations responding to the
survey confirming they’ll increase salary to
hold on to the best people – compared with an
industry average of 23%.
Such increased efforts to keep their teams
together is hardly surprising given that eight out
of ten respondents felt their salespeople were
instrumental in protecting their businesses during
the recession. It’s safe to assume that this will
only increase should the economy continue its
4| BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index - Published July 2013
BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index
Extra Holidays More Lucrative
Sales Training None of the
“Sales training and more
lucrative bonus schemes
remain the top ways
companies are looking to
attract and retain sales
As Chart Two revealed, while salary and a range of other bonuses are being offered to keep their best
people, firms continue to focus their retention efforts on training.
This is a trend the BMS Index has been following for some time and offers benefit to both employer
and employee. Apart from the likelihood of improved performance (which will ultimately hit the firm’s
top line), expanding training programmes is a clear sign of a company who is willing to invest in its
Chart Three: Will sales training be a big factor in motivating and retaining sales teams?
It would certainly appear to work, with the vast majority of survey respondents agreeing that sales
training is a major factor in motivating and retaining staff, as shown in Chart Three.
According to BMS’ Head of Training and Development, Dave Bill, investment in employee training
goes right to the heart of retention efforts:
“We’ve seen a big move towards training as a retention strategy over the past few quarters. While
salary may attract candidates, investing in your existing people increases motivation, performance
and a greater sense of value in the employee. Indeed, as we move forward, presentation and lead
generation training will not only add to team competencies, but will sit alongside growing salaries,
flexible working and increased bonus pots as a sound retention tool.”
Therefore, we will inevitably see the importance
of training increase over the next six months as
over a third of firms take on raw talent in their
attempts to remain competitive. Offering training
and development, and immersing graduates and
new starters in the company culture from the very
beginning, should not only accelerate ‘time to
value’, but support retention strategies too.
Training and Loyalty
“Sales training leads the way in
retention tactics being used by
companies with 86% believing
it will help them to motivate and
retain their staff.”
5| BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index - Published July 2013
6| BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index - Published July 2013
BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index
Chart Four: Jobs growth January 2011 - July 2013
Of course, enhancing team performance isn’t simply about retaining the best people, it’s also critical
to find and recruit new talent. And over the second quarter of 2013, the BMS Quarterly Sales Index
has brought to light that jobs growth recovered from a slump in March to end the quarter in positive
territory (Chart Four).
Q2 recruitment analysis
Business services, IT and manufacturing have
all fared well - in what remains a tough climate.
However, sales recruitment within construction and
medical remained well below the all-sector average.
Set against the quarter’s positive Purchasing
Managers Index (PMI) figures and growing business
confidence, the sales recruitment figures appear to
be lacklustre. In reality, firms rarely increase sales
teams or add additional account management on the
back of a single good quarter.
It’s a more strategic game; we’d expect a time lag between output/order growth and an upturn in
On the question of the challenge of recruitment over the past six months, firms were more evenly
divided; just over half of firms surveyed felt they had struggled to recruit good people (Chart Five).
A struggling six months?
“Whilst vacancy levels are low,
this new sense of optimism will
see recruitment activity rise in the
Chart Five: Have you struggled to recruit good sales people over the past six months?
Recruiters in the business services, FMCG and medical sectors were more likely to agree that they
had ‘struggled’. The biggest barrier to securing the right people within the medical sector was strong
counter offers from existing employers – small wonder as medical leads the sectors in using salary
rises to encourage retention.
Despite this, there’s no getting away from the fact that salary and counter offers remain significant
recruitment issues across all sectors, as Chart Six demonstrates. There is still work to be done here.
7| BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index - Published July 2013
Chart Six: If you have missed out on a good candidate in the past, what was the main reason?
Counter offer Long recruitment
Other Unable to meet
Unable to meet
Two stage battle for talent back on
This quarter’s Index highlights a period of short
term entrenchment for employers. There’s no
doubt that as confidence returns to the economy
and the job market, good sales people who have
sat tight will be looking for what other opportunities
In an attempt to offset this potential skills drain,
employers are ramping up strategies to engender
greater loyalty (principally through investment
in their people). But where attempts fail, as
highlighted in Chart Six, employers are now
prepared to aggressively move to counter offers.
For companies that are recruiting, this means increased competition. As Chart Seven indicates,
they’re taking action to make themselves more competitive by looking outside their markets for good
people. They are doing this by taking on raw talent and offering training and development, which are
trends we have seen over the past two years.
“As confidence returns to
the economy, those that sat
tight during the recession
will consider their options,
leading to increased
competition for candidates.”
But where this quarter’s Index offers a particularly
interesting insight is in the significant increase in
the number of recruiters (one in four) now willing
to increase salaries, and almost a third aiming to
shorten recruitment processes.
We haven’t seen these high levels for some time.
This reflects a growing realisation that to get the
best people you have to pay the money and be
fleet of foot; both to beat competing recruiters and
to outmanoeuvre the current employer who may be
looking to counter offer.
8| BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index - Published July 2013
BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index
Chart Seven: What steps will you be taking to remain competitive in the search for good sales people
over the next 6 months?
Look for talent
Take on raw
None of the
“The rise in counter offers
and a willingness to increase
salaries compared to last
quarter are clear signs that
competition is increasing and
confidence is improving.”
Chart Eight: Will your recruitment activity for the second half of 2013 increase or decrease compared
to the first half of 2013?
Increase in activity forecast for the rest of 2013
9| BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index - Published July 2013
As shown in Chart Eight, recruiters expect to be doing more business across all sectors (except
construction) as we move into the second half of the year. While the vast majority of firms believe
their activities will stay the same, around a quarter of IT and business services firms, and over a third
of manufacturers, expect their numbers to rise.
It would seem that once businesses have their retention strategies in place (and have dealt with the
inevitable churn that a growing economy delivers), they will look to go out to market to build up their
Of course this is largely dependent on the continued growth of the economy. While there have been
many false dawns before, there is certainly a place for cautious optimism – and there’s little doubt
that both business and candidate confidence is higher than it has been in some time.
But as we’ve discussed, increasing confidence can also be a major concern for the unprepared
Construction FMCG IT Manufacturing Medical
Existing employers winning the recruitment battle
Despite a relatively disappointing middle part of the quarter,
sales recruitment within the FMCG sector recovered
to end Q2 in positive growth territory - but only just. The
BMS Quarterly Sales Index highlighted a 0.1% increase in
vacancy growth rate on the same period last year (Chart
FMCG is always a hard sector to predict, being so reactive
to near-term levels of economic fortune. The good news
is that business confidence is at its highest point for some
considerable time. Then add the latest May figures from the
Office of National Statistics (ONS), which show increases in the volume (1.9%) and value (3.1%) of
retail spending compared to one year ago, and things are looking much brighter for a positive Q3.
“The ONS has reported an
increase in the volume and
value of retail spending
compared to a year ago,
Chart Nine: Construction sales vacancy growth rate year-on-year
BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index
10| BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index - Published July 2013
Market Average FMCG
Despite the fluctuations we see in Chart Nine, sales
recruitment in the FMCG sector has, for some time,
bucked the general trend of falling employment across
the retail sector.
A sustained period of high rents and falling consumer
spend, together with the huge impact of ecommerce
(that now makes up around 12% of retail sales), has
led to a steady decline in job opportunities across the
The good news for sales people is that their value is most definitely being recognised by their businesses.
According to 85% of FMCG recruitment leaders responding to the quarterly BMS survey, sales teams
have been instrumental in protecting firms from the worst of the recession.
The question now is whether sales teams can step up and become the catalysts for growth.
“According to 85% of FMCG
recruitment leaders responding to
the quarterly BMS survey, sales
teams have been instrumental in
protecting firms from the worst of
Chart Ten: What are you doing to retain your best people?
11| BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index - Published July 2013
For FMCG HR and sales leaders, retention is the name of the game. As with all industries, FMCG
firms fear losing top sales talent to competitors as the shackles come off the economy and the
recruitment market in general. The Index confirms FMCG firms recognise the value of keeping their
best people, and are turning to a host of retention strategies in an effort to do so.
As we can see below, in common with the vast
majority of sectors, FMCG has turned to training
and development, as well as team building events to
engender loyalty. Alongside this, 42% of firms have
introduced flexible working initiatives, while 45% have
enhanced employee benefits (Chart Ten).
From a financial perspective we see almost half of
firms increasing bonus schemes. This is good news for
an improving economy, not least because the ability of
sales people to hit realistic targets is now higher today
than in the flatter economy of just six months ago.
And while FMCG lags behind the industry average, almost one in four firms are increasing salaries
to avoid their best people having to move on to move up.
“Almost half of firms are looking to
increase bonus schemes to attract
and retain sales talent. This makes
sense in an improving economy -
the ability to hit targets is now more
realistic than just six months ago.”
Retention is crucial
The battle for talent is back on - and fierce
All this adds up to an incredibly competitive market when firms do go into the recruitment market –
either to replace churning personnel or to build their teams.
The BMS data confirms that one in four sales leaders and inhouse recruiters expect their levels
of sales recruitment activity to increase over the coming six months - and they’re going to have to
work hard to secure top talent.
Flexible Working Improved Benefits Extra Holidays More Lucrative
Sales Training None of the above
BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index
12| BMS Quarterly FMCG Sales Index - Published July 2013
Counter offers from existing candidate employers is far and away the biggest reason for recruiting
firms losing candidates at interview, while the perennial inability to match salary expectations comes in
at number two (Chart Eleven).
With the economy beginning to show signs of growth, competition to retain and acquire top sales
talent is likely to be higher than we have seen for two years; a dip in the candidate pool will be
Our advice is to go in fast and hard for the candidate you want. Recruiting firms are already losing half
their battles for talent to existing employers; get the package right the first time, impress the candidate
and keep the process quick.
Chart Eleven: If you have missed out on a good candidate in the past, what was the main reason?
Long recruitment process
Offer from another employer
Unable to meet candidates career
Unable to meet candidates salary