Survey: The Profile of the Sales ExecutiveEMEA, Expert Opinion, Featured, Leadership, Sales Thursday, December 8th, 2011
According to the second survey conducted in June 2011 by Stanton Chase Athens the conclusions that arose sawed that the profile of the Sales Executive has diversified considerably, reflecting the general turmoil in the professional and social arena.
This “Sales Survey”, compared the results of 2011 with those of the previous research on 2009, analyzed and presented the market trends and composed the new profile of the Greek Sales Executives. More than 410 senior executives, across all sectors responded to our questionnaire, regarding the conditions and challenges in this volatile job market.
Nowadays executives are required to manage a variety of problems in an unstable, uncertain and hard environment. Compared to 2009, the ‘Competitive pressure and market globalization’ emerged as the most important factor which is affecting their role. What seem to be different are their priorities regarding their business direction. While the ‘Results Orientation’ has kept its rates high, two new assets added in the list with a significant share are; the ‘Customer Orientation’, which has increased by 10% compared to 2009, and the ‘Teamwork Skills’ increased by 9%.
As for the conclusions arose from the responses to the question – How is the effectiveness of a “Top Sales Executive” measured; Profitability comes first, with a percentage of 84.4%, followed by the Alignment of sales with the Business Policy, with 65.3%, and Customer Satisfaction with 61.8%.
The role of a Sales Executive is extremely crucial during the recession. But which are the characteristics that a sales person must now show? The Ability to manage Sales & Turnover, with a percentage of 91.5%, is considered as the most important skill for a successful executive. Second in ranking, with a percentage of 80.8%, is the ability to Handle Large Accounts and then the Ability to Handle Customer Relations, with a rate of 66.2%. Respondents admit that these particular areas are the ones that present the greatest lack of talent.
Concerning the qualifications that are considered as necessary for professional recognition and success, primary are the Communication Skills, as well as the Ability to Listen and Negotiate. Ranked second comes Confidence coupled with the Ability to Perform under High Pressure. Last follow the Complementary Skills such as Attention to Detail, Commercial Approach and Emotional Intelligence. It is clear that the business environment is considered as challenging, volatile and sensitive, and this makes them move very carefully and with “stretched ears.”
In the group, they want people focused on what they do, with dedication, good attitude, enthusiasm, desire for success, discipline and honest.
On the other hand, concerning the requirements that the Top Management sets to the Sales Executives, the respondents agreed that the Increase of Sales and the Provision of High Margins are requested. More strongly than in the past, the priorities of leadership are to ensure sustainability through, of course, sales. More specifically, the profile of the ideal Sales Executive must combine General Management Capabilities so that continuous and profitable growth of the company is ensured. Furthermore, the Leadership Skills and Sales Management are considered quite significant, while the Deep Understanding of the sector is not considered very important.
If it was required to rate the qualifications based on their importance, the hierarchy would be as follows: Leadership Skills, Commercial Awareness, Integrity, Organization & Planning, Control Management.
Finally, with regard to the priorities of the Sales Department, in the first place is the Rapid Response towards the Market Needs combined with the Ability to Adapt to Changing Conditions.Second comes the New Business Development, followed by the Evolution and Development of Sales, and last comes Turnover together with the Preservation of Good Management or Cost Reduction, with percentages that do not vary much, compared to 2009.
Regarding their careers and job prospects, the respondents were given additional questions that examined among others, the following issues:
a. How they view the future of the domestic market, where do the most opportunities arise in the Greek market today?
b. What is their biggest concern in terms of competition and their clients?
c. What they believe will help them achieve their career goals and to what extent are they willing to change career and country for this purpose
d. If they think that Greece will recover and when.
• Firstly, they are very optimistic about the professional future within the next 12 months. Only a 13.5% said they are unaware of their next steps. Therefore, they do not feel professionally threatened by the situation, at least for the next period of time.
Furthermore, they consider that this financial situation will strengthen rather than weaken their role and position. They see this situation as a critical challenge that they can successfully cope with using strategy and attention. It is interesting to see some of the views below:
“- In times of crisis, talented executives are the Asset..”
“- The greater the challenge, the more the opportunities”
“- What seems like a threat, under proper management and realistic goals can be turned into opportunity”
“- Fear is a catalyst for success”
“- Sales are now at the forefront. Everyone is waiting for results”
It is also interesting which subsector of Sales will be given the strongest emphasis during the next 12 months. First comes Key Account with 26.5%. Second comes Business Development with 25.5%, third Export Sales by 18% and fourth Customer Marketing by 9.5%. In 2009 the first three places consisted of the Business Development with 26,5%, Field Sales by 21.11% and Key Account by 20.5%.
Finally, they believe that the available job opportunities in various sectors of the market are more likely in the field of Consumer Products, followed by Retail, the Sector Pharma & Medical Devices Industry, and Professional Services.
• Their greater concerns about competition are to increase their market share against the competition, to have competitive prices and ability of Exposure and Offers of Products and Services. In this regard, their concerns about the customers are the Increase of Customer Penetration as well as the Improvement / Development of Sales Strategy. They emphasize on the existence of the Development /Improvement of a Management system focusing on customer relationships, meanwhile they even seem willing to change their Sales style, if this would lead to achieving a greater market penetration.
• International Experience is considered to be as the most important factor which can ensure their success and personal development, for almost 80% of the respondents. Moreover, being visible in the market is also considered as a very significant point. Noteworthy is the fact that a very high percentage of the respondents (29.6%) believe that good relationships with Executive Search companies are also very important, a trend that in 2009 was considerably less.
The percentage of Sales Executives who wish to explore the possibility of a new career is overwhelming: 94.1%!All of them are willing to assess new professional opportunities, demonstrating that there are no longer tights and that the market is open in every direction. The main reason that prompts executives to explore other professional directions is precisely to ensure success through continuous development and search, with almost 60%. Of course there are those who would make such a move to secure higher wages (15.5%), or are not happy with their current employment (9.6%).
The most known and effective way to achieve change in career, with a significant percentage of 72%, is through Executive Search companies. If one compares the 70% in 2009, he will distinguish a small but clear upward trend.After that, follows the Networking, meaning the expansion and development of the private network of acquaintances and contacts which has lost much ground (difference 9% compared to 2009).
Huge willingness is observed on exploring opportunities for resettlement overseas. 80% of respondents (72.2% in 2009- in just two years nearly 8% more executives) responded positively to this possibility. The opportunities are increased, the potentials of the Greek economy are bleak, the environment more and more demanding. All these points urge the Greek Executives to examine opportunities abroad, where the chances of career development and prosperity are far more.
With greater ease, the Sales Executives would go to the nearest more familiar markets of Eastern Europe (83.3%) and in the Persian Gulf (45.3%).
• Regarding the general economic situation in Greece, things emerge ominous and the respondents are pessimistic. A 60% believes that the crisis in Greece will last beyond 2014, while the first signs of recovery will occur after a long period of time (more than 24 months).
Vivid is the picture presented by the answers to the question about whether Greece will recover. About 45% of respondents believe that Greece will NOT recover while 41.6% believe that there are chances that it will recover. The 13.5% of optimists is overwhelmingly low.
To ensure their current employment, within such a pessimistic environment, necessary measures must be taken, sometimes easy, sometimes difficult. 23% replied that the costs should be reduced and the operations should be shrunk, 11.1% replied that there should be expansion of the business and hirement of new people, while 65.5% replied that both should be done.
These trends and conclusions, as they arise from the research, bring forward the anxiety and the troubled daily living of the Sales Executives. They are confronted with the harsh reality of shrinking market, dismissals, cost reductions, and the growing demands of leadership. They are faced with a situation in which they have to walk a tightrope and keep balance when everything around them collapses. The only way out is apparently to relocate abroad. On the other hand, there is optimism that this crisis will clear the situation and that, in the end, those who will remain will be the most capable and the ones who will be rewarded. In conclusion, personal responsibility, careful long term planning, flexibility and adaptability are the only tools for effective advancement and prosperity for every Sales Executive.
A few words about Stanton Chase International
Stanton Chase International is a multinational company, specialized in providing consulting services Executive Search. Founded in 1990, it is fully regulated in 45 countries with 70 offices. According to recent surveys, Stanton Chase is among the top 10 international Executive Search firms in size, recognition and reputation. Stanton Chase International is a member of the Association of Executive Search Consultants – AESC, and strictly follows the code of conduct and operation designated by the specific reputable organization.
Stanton Chase Athens has expanded within the dynamic markets of the Balkans and Middle East by establishing subsidiaries in Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and the Middle East (Dubai, Qatar).
More information can be found in www.stantonchase.com