Sales skills are overlooked and undervalued in all industries except retail, according to new research from Huthwaite International.
The YouGov study asked business decision makers from a range of sectors which departments they considered the ‘heroes’ in businesses. While sales came out top for those in retail on 34%, across all industries surveyed sales slipped to third place (24%), behind research and development on 32% and production and manufacturing on 26%.
Tony Hughes, CEO at sales and negotiation experts Huthwaite International, comments: “Businesses operating in the retail sector understand that sales are crucial, but other industries still don’t seem to give credit where credit is due. Possibly they believe that services and products just sell themselves, which is certainly not the case.
“Skilled salespeople build value for the product or service they sell, working with customers to understand their needs and how these needs can best be served. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, but a tailored and consultative effort that is essential to success in all industries.”
At the other end of the scale, procurement and HR came joint last, each being named as heroes of businesses by only 9% of respondents.
Mr Hughes continues: “Procurement continues to suffer from a serious reputation problem when it comes to how it’s viewed by the rest of the business. Research we conducted in 2013 showed that procurement’s image within the business is negative overall and it seems not much has improved over the last few years.
“Sales can make their own lives easier – and also help to make procurement look good to their colleagues – by ensuring that they clearly articulate the customer benefits of what they are selling and ensure at least some of these benefits are expressed in terms that enhance the value to procurement.
“Also, by involving procurement earlier in the process, salespeople can help them communicate the value of what is being sold to the wider business. The closer salespeople can get to the procurement department the better, both for salespeople to do their job and for procurement to improve their image in the business,” finishes Mr Hughes.
Other departments ranked in the research include IT, which came in fourth place with 19%, followed by the CEO and marketing and communications, both on 16%. Finance and accounting came in with 12% of respondents naming them heroes, above procurement and HR on nine per cent.