New research on the perception of the sales profession by business leadership consultancy DDI reveals the UK sales industry is one of the most poorly regarded and trusted in the global sales force.
The 2007-08 Global Sales Perception Report interviewed over 2,700 corporate buyers and employees who interact with sales people across six countries. The UK provoked the lowest perception rating among its respondents, with 53 per cent rating sales “poor” or “fair”.
Globally, 41 per cent of buyers say their expectations of sales expertise has increased over the past five years. Yet just 66 per cent of UK buyers believe sales people provide them with the support they need and only 40 per cent think UK sales expertise has improved in recent years.
Product or service advice is the most sought-after quality buyers look for in sales people across the globe, followed by market knowledge and trust. But UK buyers value trust and price above market knowledge.
Additional findings of the report include:
– Sales teams are failing to build a strong enough rapport with clients to become trusted advisors
– Buyers demand a greater understanding of their business from sales teams
– Buyers value brochures and catalogues to the same degree as sales people
– German salespeople are doing the best of the six countries surveyed, receiving the highest satisfaction ratings
Further analysis of the results shows that buyers are looking to the internet first for information to make buying decisions; particularly in the UK, where 72 per cent of buyers rated it their top source. This is allowing buyers to ‘cut out the middleman’ and eliminate sales people from the process, preventing them from building lasting relationships.
Paul Hughes, Director of Strategic Accounts at DDI and co-author of the report, says:
“Buyers have increasingly high expectations of sales people, but our research clearly tells us that in many cases these expectations are not being met. As a result, buyers choose other avenues like the internet to find the information or even source the products they need. In this situation salespeople are simply not able to create the added value that they must do.
“Organisations need to quickly develop a better understanding of which of their sales people have the skills, experience and motivation to help to drive their sales strategies and in turn which of the sales leaders are best equipped to lead and support them.”