Career Paths


As the landscape changes and technology continues to shape the way we work, sales professionals must broaden their skill set in order to stay ahead of the competition.

4 min read

The disruptions brought on by the global pandemic in 2020 have had lasting effects on how businesses are designed and run. Pre-pandemic trends such as digital transformation and increased focus on customer experience have accelerated, and companies are shifting their strategies to keep up. It’s a dramatic climate of change, uncertainty and transformation. But what does that mean for sales professionals? 

Overall, the prospects are positive. In 2021, fast-paced business leaders are in demand at all organizational levels, prepared to make decisions that define the future of their sector. The fact is, there are diverse roles and functions available, but securing them requires an increasingly broad skill set.

Now trending: The in-demand skills 

As the labor market shifts, it produces new job opportunities and demands, while others are diminished. According to the World Economic Forum’s recent report on the future of jobs,

…the emerging professions showcase the continuing importance of human interaction in the new economy through roles in the care economy; in marketing, sales and content production; as well as roles where a facility or aptitude for understanding and being comfortable working with different types of people from different backgrounds is critical.

With human interaction at the forefront of the job market, an intricate combination of hard and soft skills are even more important as additional roles take shape. 

And the report goes on to highlight the sheer number of new positions that there will be. They predict that, by 2025, “…emerging professions will grow from 7.8% to 13.5% (5.7% growth)” of the total employee base of company respondents.”

With this shift, “97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms.” 

These professional trends in 2021 are strong reflections of the lasting effects of the global pandemic. Given the new context, the World Economic Forum provides a list of the top 15 skills employers will look for leading up to 2025. Topping the charts are: analytical thinking and innovation; active learning and learning strategies; complex problem-solving; critical thinking and analysis; and creativity, originality and initiative. 

Top jobs in sales in 2021 

The shortage of relevant skills for future roles is giving sales executives the opportunity to revamp their skill set and even make changes in their professional paths. This could lead to any number of positions, among them:

Customer Success Specialist

During the global pandemic, companies were forced to adapt or completely transform their business models. The rapid pace at which technology is advancing played a large role in the use of big data, e-commerce, and artificial intelligence among businesses worldwide. However, studies have shown that customers still desire a human touch throughout their digitalization journey. Customer success specialists use their business skill set to provide a seamless relationship between customers and companies—skills which can be further developed with our Master in Digital Business & Innovation.

Sales Development Representative 

Jobs in sales are on the rise and sales development representatives are becoming more prominent. Companies are showing greater success rates by restructuring their sales teams into separate roles that function as a whole. Sales development representatives focus on potential clients, ensuring that they are quality leads for their company. Once the SDR has qualified a potential client, they lead them through the sales pipeline to the next sales team member. Sales development representatives must be product experts with strong communication skills. 

Commercial Sales Representative 

Commercial sales representatives work in a variety of industries and are in high demand. It is their responsibility to represent companies and sell their product or service. This position requires flexible, organized and driven professionals who show a firm understanding of their product, as well as that of competition. The International MBA is an excellent place to develop the skills needed to represent companies worldwide. 

Business Development Representative

Forming part of the sales team, business development representatives seek out new opportunities or ways to implement strategies in their companies. Business development representatives must show strong skills in CRM software and team performance. 

Customer Specialist

Businesses are shifting towards artificial intelligence and digital services, which would assumably lead to a decline in customer specialists. However, the role of a customer specialist is considered a top job in 2021. Thanks to AI and digitalization, customer specialists are able to focus on specific customer needs in an effective manner, helping to maintain customer retention. As digitalization rises, so do customer demands—customer specialists must be critical thinkers and product experts. 

This is just a small selection of the potential positions available. Others listed in the report include: Partnerships Specialist, Chief Commercial Officer, Head of Partnerships, Enterprise Account Executive, Business Development Specialist, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Business Development. But regardless of defined roles, the most valuable asset of any company is proving to be its human capital. By complementing your area of expertise with top leadership skills, you’re in a prime position to become a high-impact professional.

For a more in-depth look at our program offering, check our business and management area. Now is the time to upgrade your skill set and seize the jobs of tomorrow.