Saturday, September 20, 2008

Surprising Numbers?

The European edition of “Fortune” magazine of September 29 2008 devotes a whole section to the art of selling. The section features articles like “The Art of Selling” talking about famous figures in the sales profession like John Patterson, Joe Girard and others and “Shelf Help”; a list of recommended sales books. These articles provide not much news to those working in sales. The article “Sales slip ups” which lists the top ten mistakes sales people make according to Dr. G. Clotaire. is worth a glance. I found the articles “Legends of Sales “ and “Inside the Mind of Modern Sales People” most interesting for the figures that can be found there.

For example, did you know that there are about 16 million Americans working in Sales? They represent 12% of the workforce. In 1960 their part of the workforce was only 7%. Wondering what caused this growth, I came to the conclusion that part of the explanation must be in the fact that enterprises focus on core competencies. As they still need services like IT, HR etc. they go for more outsourcing. So more things are bought, which in turn requires more sales people to sell those services. I wonder if Sales 2.0 will curb this trend of always more people working in sales.

Thinking of the Sales 2.0 effects drew my attention to another interesting number. 49% of sales people surveyed answered that they do not use social media at all. With the myriad of articles and the proliferation of solutions in this domain, I would have expected this number to be a bit lower. Even more surprising to me was though the fact, that finding additional contacts within current client organizations was the most cited primary reason for using social media. To make new connections with new prospects was though a closed second. I wonder what has happened to the traditional networking skills. I would have thought that the personal contacts already established in an account would allow to obtain referrals and recommendations within the customer's organization without needing technology like social media.

When it comes to the confidence of reaching quota for 2008, 58% are either completely or mostly confident that they will make their numbers. So it is very likely that surveys like the CSO insight SPO report will probably have to report a slight decrease of quota attainment in their next edition. With the economy becoming tougher, there is though hardly any surprise in this. When asked about the impact of the current economy on their job, 70% of the responding sales professionals thought that their job has become somewhat harder or much harder. 23% thought that the current economy is not affecting them much at all. There are 6% optimists who think the current economy makes their job easier.

If you consider monetary incentives as a means to keep up motivation in this tougher economy, you might be in for a bad surprise. Only 17% of the respondents mentioned that they are in sales because the money bis good. The love for interaction with people and the independence inherent in the job seem to be the major motivators for choosing a job in sales.

Do you need some motivation booster after these facts? In the article “How to sell in a Lousy Economy” some sales professionals are telling us their secrets for success.

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