INSIGHT: Showpad survey finds sales targets are being missed through people issues

Showpad research reveals that over half of sales leaders will make customer-centricity and improved coaching programmes their key priorities this year, as over a third (39%) admit that their sales team is under-performing. The new research showed that barely a fifth (19%) of organisations in the finance, healthcare, technology and manufacturing sectors believe that their sales teams are on target.

According to the study of 400 UK sales managers, almost three quarters (71%) of respondents believe that the performance of their sales team is due to people issues, such as a lack of effective coaching, training and leadership issues within an organisation, rather than operational factors. However, 62% of senior sales staff also said that customer issues are responsible for this performance, with buyers’ budgets being cut or sales cycles becoming longer and more cautious.

“It’s tough to argue with a shrinking budget,” said Iain Masson, Director of Sales at Showpad. “When organisations tighten their belts at the start of the year, the choice for salespeople is often to get a smaller slice of the pie or none at all. However, by running better training or coaching programmes – and through this, improving customer-centricity – sales leaders can make sure their sellers are conveying the value of their product or service and that their slice is as large and enduring as possible.”

The importance of coaching and customer-centricity was reinforced by the study, which showed that over half (60%) of sales managers believe their competitors to be more customer-centric than they are, with 38% admitting that the competition probably has better sales coaching. Similarly, research from Forrester showed that 75% of C-suite buyers were often unimpressed with the level of knowledge possessed by vendor sales teams.

“If you’re selling to the C-Suite, you need to bring your A-game,” continued Masson. “Most senior executives are highly visible to sellers, but are time-poor and often overwhelmed with an array of poorly-targeted sales pitches and content. It’s crucial for salespeople to try and see the world as they do, understand their priorities and use a timely, focused, personal approach that will stand out.”

“Sales enablement initiatives drive excellence across both sales training and content programmes,” Masson concluded. “Both of these can empower their teams to understand buyers better, driving higher quality engagements with even senior-level staff, and ultimately, make a difference to sales numbers in 2020.”

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