According to a study of IT executives by Forrester, only 15% of executives believe that their meetings with salespeople are valuable and live up to their expectations. Reasons given according to the report:
Business leaders (24%) don't believe salespeople are knowledgeable about their specific business.
Only 34% of buying executives said salespeople understand their roles and responsibilities.
Only 38% feel that reps are prepared to answer their questions.
That's not effective sales!
As we move from Bell-Head (TDM) to Net-Head services (IP Comm), this problem will exaserbate. By that, I mean, where will companies find knowledgeable salespeople to sell IP Communications and related products?
I'm a firm believer in hiring based on Attitude because you can't train friendly. But you can train people about your services and sales skills. Enthusem for selling and your services: no, you can't train that either.
If your company sells Managed Services, SIP Trunking, Hosted PBX, DIA and maybe a couple of other things, how does the salesperson know what to sell and to who? Training. (You can get that training at ITEXPO with these free workshops from MegaPath, Phone.com, Ingate - or from RAd-INFO, INc. who can customize training for your company.)
In a similar report from McKinsley Quarterly, "B2B customers say they care most about product and price, but what they really want is a great sales experience. ...Sales reps should know their products or services intimately and how their offering compares with those of their competitors. Customers need information on exactly how a product or service will make a difference to their businesses. And while they may say price is one of their biggest concerns, a satisfying sales experience is ultimately more important."
With all that salespeople have to do today: learn the services, do some of that online social stuff, check email, paperwork, prospecting, lead gen, follow up and then account management, when is their time with that quota weighing you down? It's a difficult balance. It also means that the cost of sales will be increasing for many companies -- at about the time competition increases and price pressure forces lower overall revenue. (See GMail adds Voice as an example of both competitive and pricing pressure).
Athletes have coaches to reach their potential. Salespeople need them to. There is no such thing as a natural born salesperson. Like a lawyer or doctor, there are skills to be learned, honed and re-trained on. That's if you want to be an effective salesperson in this marketplace.
BTW, this goes for Agents as well as Salespeople.