In early 2009, there was not much steam left in the career of a sales and marketing professional as the first wave of recession hit the UAE.
With not many firms looking to actively expand their presence and lesser still looking to hire or promote sales and marketing talent, things were looking quite bleak.
Most marketers were – and perhaps rightly so – concerned about their employment security as companies of all sizes were then looking to make cuts, and the marketing budget was unfortunately often the first place they started with.
“The sales people were the first one to be shown the door,” said Sona M, a sales executive working in a Dubai-based media company. “The first pink-slip sounded the alarm bell for all of us… we were in a game of Chinese whispers… who will be the next one,” she reminisces.
Undoubtedly, sales and marketing professionals were perhaps the first ones and one of the worst hit during the past few years. But now, as the economy improves and businesses become stronger once again, this is one department that can expect substantial changes and gains, part of which will be to compensate the job shedding of previous years and part of it to gear for future expansion.
“We really suffered as there was actually no business then, but we could soon be the centre of action once again as it’s the sales department that gets the money in,” quips a sales manager at an electronics shop in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates.
While that may well be the case, what in fact are the job prospects of sales and marketing executives in the UAE, and what sort of pay-hikes and commission increments should they expect this year?
Headhunters in the country see 2013 as a good one for professionals in this department and the trend was very much set last year.
First and foremost, the demand for candidates in sales will go up this year. “[We] definitely see a demand and this was evident through 2012 and all indications are it will continue,” Jack Khabbaz, Associate Director for Sales & Marketing for the GCC at recruitment firm Charterhouse Partnership, told Emirates 24|7.
“[We see] increased [demand for] sales executives, required to execute strategic plans and develop revenue. [There will be] more senior roles at the director/head level. Clients will also increase their demand for digital and online marketing professionals,” he added.
Experts at executive search firm Morgan Mckinley too have seen a relatively constant flow between supply and demand, particularly within media and events.
Their research shows that the FMCG market is growing and with global brands expanding across the region, there is a need for talent with specific specialisms. Whilst the market remains tight, good quality sales candidates are always in demand.
Sales and marketing roles within certain sectors are more likely to see an increased demand this year. “Hospitality, FMCG, Pharmaceutical, Consumer Electronics, media agencies, tourism, manufacturing will continue to increase,” said the Charterhouse expert.
“Media and communications have seen increased demand since the doldrums of 2009. Employers’ needs are more specialist and quality is still at a premium, which has led to a willingness to source staff from outside the region,” added the 2012 research report of Morgan Mckinley.
“Advertising and media are hiring heavily, particularly in the digital sphere. PR has seen a major shift post-recession. Agencies and companies are generally less likely to relocate talent outside of the GCC as demand for local experience grows,” the report noted.
Talking of the compensation side of the story, professionals in this area are moving away from commission-only packages. This had become common during the crisis.
This year, sales professionals can expect hikes and bonuses. “[We] have also seen an increase of about 5-7 per cent in salaries compared to previous year and more companies have paid bonuses more frequently,” said Khabbaz.
“Marketing, advertising and branding agency salaries are streamlined and benchmarked against each other. The five employers of choice in each discipline for example, are closely assimilated which can adversely affect significant movement.
“On the sales front, redundancies and commission-only packages are becoming less common. OTEs for sales employees have started to pick up although many local businesses and SMEs still lean towards a heavily weighted commission element in their package structures,” read the Morgan Mckinley report.
Salaries in AED per/month for jobs in sales and marketing
Role Average salaries
Marketing Executive 15,000
Marketing Manager 25,000
Marketing Director / Head of Marketing 50,000
Corporate Communications Assistant 15,000
Corporate Communications Manager 25,000
Corporate Communications Director 50,000
PR / Media Relations Executive 15,000
PR Manager 25,000
PR Director / Head of PR 45,000
Sales Executives 15,000
Sales Managers 20,000
Sales Director / Head of Sales 35,000
Supplied by Charterhouse