British manufacturers are failing to support their sales staff

Showpad research has revealed that sales staff in manufacturing are being left dangerously exposed when selling complex or high-value products and services, with 17% of organisations failing to carry out any kind of training or coaching. 

According to the study, only 8% of manufacturing firms offer the continuous and ongoing training and coaching necessary for sales teams to keep up with the highly sophisticated products, services and other developments across the industry.

“Manufacturing organisations today are selling incredibly complex propositions, especially with the dawn of servitisation, where multi-year service contracts are sold alongside core products,” commented Iain Masson, Director of Sales at Showpad. “If staff are simply being trained when they join the company, or when a new product comes out, they will be taking an ineffective approach – or worse, missing out on deals, upsell or cross-selling opportunities.”

The study revealed a disconnect in how organisations are empowering their sales staff with content, training and coaching (sales enablement) with 51% of organisations admitting that training and coaching was important or crucial but many companies failing to train effectively.

In fact, 53% of companies admitted to using training methods such as lectures, presentations, demos or group discussions, when studies from the NTL Institute have shown that these methods help learners retain 50% of the content at most. However, 40% of sales staff in manufacturing – higher than any other industry – are using highly effective methods, such as learning, then having learners teach others, which results in a 90% information retention rate.

“Sales is a complex role, especially with the rise of servitisation,” concluded Masson. “Although staff will learn from their own experiences, it’s better to share these learnings across the organisation, then track and use analytics to understand the best ways of selling and how to shorten the sales cycle. There is certainly optimism – 78% of staff believe that training and coaching is better than it was five years ago – but it’s crucial to accelerate such sales enablement initiatives if manufacturing organisations are to make the most of new budgets in the new year.”

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