In order to surmount the recession, sales executives must place a greater focus on developing and enhancing client relationships. Targeting high potential new clients is the key issue steering the development and shaping of sales strategies for the New Year.
These observations were generated from a survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan's Growth Team Membership™ division to better understand the business environment and key issues facing European sales executives.
Factors in the Current Environment Impacting Sales:
Primary Factors: As can be expected, the global economic downturn was selected by a majority (39%) of the respondants as their primary concern. This was followed by emerging global markets (12%) with a tie between intesifying competition and decreasing customer demand (7% each).
Secondary Factors: Intensifying competition was chosen by 16% of respondants as the top secondary factor concerning their stragegic plans. Global economic downturn came in as a close second (15%), trailed by fluctuating input costs (7%) and a tie between decreasing customer demand and corporate restructuring (6% each).
Impact of the Top Factors: Three of the top five environmental factors—global enconomic downturn, intensifying competion and decreased customer demand—are percieved to have a predominately negative impact on sales strategies. Conversely, the remaining two factors—emerging global markets and product/service innovation—are considered to have a mainly positive effect.
"The negative economic environment is the prevalent business factor impacting sales executives today," says Keith O'Brien, the Director of the Growth Team Membership™. "This has specific ramifications for the Sales function: increased competition for customers who are themselves restructuring and reducing expenditures. Therefore, Sales functions must learn to allocate scarce resources to customers that have the greatest revenue potential."
Key Sales Issues
Targeting high-potential new clients was selected by a 57% majority as the most important issue to take into account while shaping their 2009 sales strategies. Other important issues included responding to their clients' changing business environments (52%), selecting and competing for partners and alliances (22%), and improving sales and marketing integration (21%).
"Sales has to deepen its understanding of existing customers' businesses and develop the flexibility to respond effectively to shifts in conditions," O'Brien adds. "This is reflected in the identified need to enhance the solution-selling capabilities of sales professionals. These developments are prerequisites for Sales to stem account losses and acquire greater share of wallet. At the same time, recessions give rise to opportunities, and sales executives see openings in emerging markets and capitalising on the demand for innovative products and services."
Sales Function's Effectiveness
A majority of executives (58%) rated the effectiveness of their sales function as "Above Average", while 32% regard their sales functions' effectiveness as "Average." Only 6% of executives rated their sales functions' effectiveness as "Exceptional", and the remaining 4%, "Below Average."
In total, 259 executives participated in the survey. The survey respondents were director level or above sales executives from companies with revenues of €70 million or more.
The majority of respondents, 75%, are employed by a B2B company, 20% by a B2B and B2C hybrid, and the remaining 5% by a B2C company. Sixty-four percent of these executives work for a private company, whereas 27% work in the public sector. The list of participating companies spans numerous industries; the largest number were in the healthcare and life science industry (24%), which is closely followed by the energy and power systems industry (21%).
Frost & Sullivan's Growth Team Membership™ is an annual subscription programme that supports individual members of a CEO's executive team in achieving the company's top-line growth objectives. Team membership includes career-focused events, implementation-orientated best practices research and targeted services. If you would like more information on Growth Team Membership™ or have any questions regarding the survey, please contact Chiara Carella, Corporate Communications, at chiara.carella[.]frost.com.
GIL 2009: Europe
Frost & Sullivan has expanded its flagship Global Congress on Corporate Growth - GIL Global - into several major cities around the world including London. For the first time ever in Europe, Frost & Sullivan will be hosting the Growth, Innovation and Leadership Congress 'GIL 2009: Europe' on 19-20 May, at the Sofitel St James in London. GIL Global is the industry's only event designed to support senior executives in their efforts to achieve sustainable, top-line growth. To register, obtain a programme agenda, explore sponsorship opportunities, or attend as a member of the media for 'GIL 2009: Europe', please contact Chiara Carella, Head of Corporate Communications for Frost & Sullivan in Europe, at chiara.carella[.]frost.com. One-on-One interviews with Frost & Sullivan senior growth consultants are also being scheduled.
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