Innovation & Operations Management

Qualification bottleneck in industrial sales – Study

August 25, 2015 | News Germany

Not even one in three German industrial companies takes the professional qualification of its sales staff really seriously. Even with regard to product and customer insights, sales staff only receive professional training in four of ten companies. Whereas employees complain about the need for action, sales managers tend to play this down and very often shirk their responsibilities. These are the results of a study of the Staufen AG consultancy from a survey of 110 German industrial companies. Only 24 percent of employees working in operational sales describe the qualification level at their employer’s as good or very good, whereas the equivalent value for sales managers was many times higher at 84 percent. This shows that, in contrast with their staff, direct line managers are largely content with the situation and thus refrain from any specific training measures – after all, each day that sales staff spend on training rather than on customers costs a lot of money. “Sales staff are a crucial success factor for any company. They work at the front line in a highly competitive market, they are expected to win projects and look after customers. Regular qualification measures are thus imperative,” explains Uwe Vogel, Senior Manager of the Staufen AG consultancy and director of this study. “However, it’s not very productive simply to delegate training to an external service provider.” Vogel takes managers to task: “The qualification of staff is the primary task of any manager.” It seems an urgent requirement for sales managers to face up to this task in person and on site. The study has shown that companies even seem to refrain from staff training in product and customer insights, i.e. knowledge that is essential for employees working in sales and distribution. More than 60 percent of employees in this sector rate their employers as satisfactory or less. “The fact that sales are still successful is thus less due to the support by employers and specifically by managers, but to the great commitment and personal skills of sales representatives working in the field,” claims sales expert Vogel. Even though there is a lack of qualification, 60 percent of those interviewed rate sales and negotiation techniques as highly developed. Press graphics for Lean Sales are available from: The study can be requested from the address: Award and innovations forum for GERMAN INDUSTRY: At the GERMAN INDUSTRY innovations forum in Stuttgart on 2 and 3 November, experts from companies and science show how medium-sized companies can make new products, services or business models ready for the market in a better and faster way. At the same time the “GERMAN INDUSTRY Prize for Innovation” will be awarded for the first time. Outstanding, application-related innovations from medium-sized companies will receive awards. Winfried Kretschmann, Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, is the patron. For more information about the event, please go to:

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