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Report: Selling

Sales reps, too, are being hit, according to the 2009 CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Report, and need extra support from their companies. CSO is a research firm that specializes in benchmarking challenges impacting the performance of sales and marketing organizations.

The report, highlighted recently in Selling Power magazine, is based on a survey of more than 1,800 companies in a variety of industries worldwide. It found that in 2008 the percentage of salespeople failing to make their quotas rose from 38.8 percent to 41.2 percent and that overall revenue plan attainment dropped from 88.2 percent to 85.9 percent.

It also revealed that the top 20 percent of sales reps are generating 61.5 percent of the revenue, suggesting that better training in best practices might improve performance overall for the other 80 percent. Similarly, 70 percent of firms report that ramp-up time for new salespeople is seven months or greater, suggesting that better training and technology could result in novice sales reps getting up to speed faster.

In foodservice distribution, ramp-up time is significantly longer. The average time it takes for new DSRs to become successful is two to three years, according to data published last June in Technomic’s Distributor Intelligence Service Report.

While spending less on sales training, getting by with fewer sales support staff, and avoiding investment in technologies to enable sales is common practice during economic tough times, CSO suggests that investing in improved sales effectiveness needs to be a top priority in 2009.

“The numbers continue to mount in favor of firms that implement sales process and enable this with appropriate technologies,” said Jim Dickies of CSO Insights. “It is apparent to everyone that 2009 will represent a host of new challenges but we see some firms much better able to anticipate and adapt to this difficult environment; others need to ground themselves and focus on those initiatives that will pay dividends this year.”

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