This year’s survey results indicate sales executives’ 2012 challenges are shaped by their need to increase productivity. Specifically, sales executives need to pinpoint the highest-value sales activities, streamline their sales processes to match, and invest in new tools and practices for team collaboration. The other prominent challenges are enhancing the ability to monitor the business environment for shifts in pricing pressures and customers’ purchasing behaviors and needs.
To further explore this year’s challenges, respondents were asked to “root cause” their top challenges—whether they derive from issues with staffing, process, technology/systems, or strategic alignment. Sales executives attribute their challenges to the gamut of process, tools, and people. While respondents foresee little to no increase in staff, budgets are on the rise.
Given social media’s increasing role in companies’ strategies and activities, the survey asked respondents about the sales force’s use of social media. An overwhelming majority (98%) of the respondents are using social media in their daily sales activities. Specifically, respondents employ social media to identify needs, build awareness, and nurture ongoing client relationships. Unsurprisingly, LinkedIn is the primary social media platform sales executives use—primarily joining special interest groups to enhance their understanding of customer needs. Fewer respondents are actively participating in or creating special interest groups, which forgoes opportunities to demonstrate topical expertise.
Regarding the use of virtual and social media tools in sales activities, respondents employ tele-presence and/or live streaming video and predictive analytics—the analysis of customer behavioral data to identify patterns and insights for customer interactions. However, few respondents are using social media monitoring tools (e.g., Radian 6), dashboards (e.g., Hootsuite or MediaFunnel), or CRM systems (e.g., Nimble). Consequently, sales executives are not realizing the full benefits these tools offer for improving customer focus, collaboration, and productivity.
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Holly is the Research Lead for the Growth Team Membership, a best practices research group within Frost & Sullivan. Follow her on twitter at @hlykehogland.
Written by Holly Lyke Ho Gland
Holly is the research lead for the Growth Team Membership™ (GTM) program. Holly identifies and profiles best practices that address the main challenges faced by the leadership in key functions that support the CEO in driving growth strategies. Since joining Frost & Sullivan in 2008, Holly has developed Best Practice Guidebooks for executives in Corporate Strategy, Corporate Development, R&D, Market Research and Competitive Intelligence. In addition to her best practices work, Holly manages GTM’s annual priorities surveys of senior executives within Marketing, Corporate Strategy, Sales Leadership, Corporate Development, and Innovation/R&D. Prior to joining Frost & Sullivan, Holly worked for three years at Sam Houston State University. There she was an instructor and a research assistant on research projects analyzing public perceptions of natural resource management in natural gas, power and water.