Effective Sales Requires Better Training

Despite the fact that many companies have implemented CRM and SFA solutions, most are not reaching their sales goals and effectiveness due to a lack of training, fractured process management, and lack of an overall company sales strategy, according to a report released this week. The "2004 Sales Effectiveness and Customer Retention Survey," published by Peak Sales Consulting, polled chief business officers, presidents, and top sales executives regarding business trends relating to acquiring new customers, management practices, sales force methodologies, and customer retention strategies. According Russ Lombardo, president of Peak, the survey shows that more effective training for sales and marketing groups is likely to help organizations meet their sales goals: "Having the tools doesn't make you effective--the company has to have a process. Everyone has forecasting tools, and yet forecasting is off. Nearly everyone has SFA, yet they are not turning leads into sales as effectively as possible." Nearly all of the study's respondents had a CRM or SFA solution, but close to three-quarters of the respondents admitted to having difficulties meeting their sales goals. Lombardo says the survey shows that problems meeting sales goals are directly related to a lack of sales processes being developed and deployed: "To me this indicates that they are either not using technology or are not using it in the right way." The report also revealed the need for sales training programs, rather than just classroom training, along with the use of technology to assist with sales and marketing productivity and effectiveness. Three-quarters of respondents noted that they did not have a lead-flow system for their sales groups; nearly half of the respondents spend 5 to 10 hours per day looking for prospects, while one-quarter spent more than 21 hours per week searching for leads. The survey asked a handful of questions about customer retention. As businesses place an increased emphasis on customers, it was disappointing to see the overwhelming majority of those surveyed felt they had little or no customer retention strategy in place. Lombardo says, "That number has to improve for businesses to survive. The priority seems to be on attracting new customers, rather than retaining customers." He notes that even those with a customer retention plan responded that it was not effective and needed improvement, and that only evangelism, education, and training will help groups overcome these challenges.
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