Deva RangarajanProfessor Deva Rangarajan, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School.
The study, conducted by Professor Deva Rangarajan, looked at sales force effectiveness in Europe. Sales managers and employees from a wide range of companies were surveyed. The results revealed a recurring trend of ineffective practice and out-dated methods within many sales teams, ensuing financial losses through poorly targeted customer service and badly managed Sales and General Administration costs (SG&A).
The majority of managers surveyed admitted their companies lacked an effective go-to market strategy, and that they did not have the ability or resources to train their staff. Most employees said they felt that there was no clear structure to their work, and no clear path for sales development.
Rangarajan says this could be remedied by introducing a scheme of professionalised sales training to universities. Treating sales as a professional discipline (as with marketing) could revolutionise the way companies operate, and improve services by enhancing the ability of existing staff and applicants.
Rangarajan said, “I firmly believe that a sales person does not have to be born. Sales people can be created as long as they have the right attitude. There is a war for talent in the sales industry, so the need is there to solve this problem, and have graduates that have been professionally trained.”
The lack of outlets for professional sales training in Europe has led Rangarajan to spearhead a number of new initiatives at Vlerick, aimed at developing professional training for those looking to work in the sales industry.
Vlerick’s Sales Excellence Centre is a platform for research into sales best practice to be conducted, and then adapted into training programmes. Students and businesses can apply to participate in the training sessions, attend seminars where guest lectures are given by leading figures in the sales industry, and also have the opportunity to attend the bi-annual Sales Marketing Forum.
Rangarajan has also created a sales competition for Vlerick students. The winners of this are flown to the US to participate in the National Collegiate Sales Competition held at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. Last year’s Vlerick entry was the only European group to enter and was awarded third place in three separate categories.