Customer-Centric Shortfall: 2012 Global Sales Leadership Priorities Survey
By Jessica Jeffcoat, Research Analyst, and Holly Lyke-Ho-Gland, Research Lead, Growth Team Membership™ (GTM)
Frost & Sullivan’s Growth Team Membership™ (GTM) recently completed its 2012 survey of sales executives globally. The executives were asked to identify their most pressing challenges for 2012. GTM will focus its best practices research to address the prominent issues identified in the survey.
Sales Leadership in 2012—A Snapshot
- Implementing lead generation strategies is the primary challenge of sales executives.
- A lack of personnel is the root cause of the primary challenge.
- In comparison to 2011, staffing levels will remain static while budget levels are expected to increase moderately in 2012.
- Companies attribute 20 percent of their sales to distribution channels and partnerships.
- In the main, Sales uses social media to identify and qualify leads.
- LinkedIn is the primary social media platform used by Sales, and is typically used to improve sales reps’ knowledge of customer needs and to boost brand recognition.
2012 Sales Leadership Survey Executive Summary
The 2012 survey reveals that sales executives continue to wrestle with a perennial issue: improving customer focus. Specifically, sales leaders must employ more effective tactics to generate high-quality leads, map their sales cycle to customers’ purchasing behavior, and incorporate customer feedback into their sales strategies.
To examine these challenges in more depth, the survey asked respondents to “root cause” their top internal challenges by indicating if they stem from issues with staffing, process, technology/systems, or strategic alignment. Sales executives attribute their challenges to two primary causes: limitations in staffing (limited resources and lack of knowledge) and processes (ineffective processes and inadequate communication). Sales executives are unlikely to see staffing improvements in the next year, as most respondents anticipate staffing levels will remain static in 2012. Budgets, however, are expected to increase moderately in 2012. Despite concerns over inadequate staffing and processes, nearly half (49 percent) of the survey respondents rate their function’s effectiveness as “above average.”
Given social media’s prominence and its ability to give sales executives an additional window into customer needs and behaviors, the survey asked respondents about their use of social media. The majority of respondents (54 percent) indicate they participate in social media as part of their sales approach. More specifically sales reps are employing social media to identify and qualify prospects, collect information on customer needs, and maintain customer relationships. Sales executives predictably are using LinkedIn as their primary social media platform and are conducting individual searches and joining special interest groups to enhance their understanding of customer needs. While the majority of respondents actively participate in LinkedIn’s special interest groups, few sales executives moderate their own groups and thus do not take full advantage of LinkedIn’s ability to help boost brand recognition.
In response to questions about their use of virtual and social media tools in sales activities, respondents indicate universal use of tele-presence and/or live streaming video to increase sales productivity. However, the majority of sales executives indicate they are not employing social media CRM systems (e.g., Nimble), monitoring platforms (e.g., Radian 6), or dashboards (e.g., Hootsuite or MediaFunnel). This is unfortunate given that these tools magnify the benefits of social media activities by collating customer information, which helps facilitate the creation of customer insights. In addition, more than half of the respondents do not use predictive analytics—the analysis of customer behavioral data to identify patterns and provide insights for customer interactions—which is a key customer analysis tool. It is noteworthy that most sales executives are not using these tools despite citing the need to improve their understanding of customer needs and behavior.
- There were 564 respondents.
- The respondents work predominantly for privately held (56%) rather than public (34%) companies.
- The majority of the respondents (69%) work in a business-to-business environment.
- Most of the respondents (39%) come from firms with revenues below $100 Million (USD).
For a more detailed analysis of the survey results, including analyses by business model, please see the attached report.
If you have questions regarding the survey, or are interested in learning more about GTM’s marketing best practices, please contact us at: GTMResearch@frost.com, follow us on @Frost_GTM, or visit us at www.gtm.frost.com