Brits are Ashamed to be in Sales

Last Updated Apr 21, 2008 2:31 PM EDT

Bashful salespeople are failing to engage buyers, says a DDI global sales survey, "Is the Sales Force Delivering Business Value?"

The French and British are most ashamed of being in sales, while the Germans are the least, says the survey. It also identifies the qualities buyers most value in sales people: ability to advise on products or services, market knowledge and trustworthiness.

Price matters to most to UK buyers, who rank price negotiations on a par with trustworthiness. Overall, 19 per cent of those surveyed felt sales expertise was worsening, with poor communication skills and a lack of engagement with customers just a couple of complaints.

Building relationships has become crucial. Says one UK respondent: "Once a rapport is built with a customer, then anything can be sold."

Yet the survey found that less than half of UK buyers felt they were building partnerships with salespeople.

Instead, British buyers consult the Web for decision-making. The UK leads in internet use for buying decisions, with 72 per cent checking the Web before consulting a sales representative.
Improving your sales relationships. DDI's tips for smartening up your salesforce

  1. Ask customers what they want from relationships. If they just want an order-taker, then that's what you should be. If they want a stronger partnership, learn how to develop that relationship.
  2. Understand your target sector and match the sales person to its needs: if you're working with the NHS, you will need a seasoned sales rep with knowledge of patient care issues.
  3. Decide which skills and personal attributes you want from your salesforce and establish competency models so leaders and salespeople understand what they need to learn.
  4. Build HR processes that align with the way you want to do business. If you want to provide exceptional customer service, recruit and promote people with that orientation.
  5. Develop your sales leadership. Train managers in performance and people management, ensure they can spot talent and develop a team that fits your vision and values. They need to assess each new position and manage promotions and new role creation.
  6. Bite the bullet. Make individuals accountable. If they aren't hitting the numbers or are undermining team efforts, act on it.