Many Sri Lankan companies are struggling to achieve the revenue targets even though they have brilliant products/services and potential buyers. Mostly this is due to the lack of connectivity between the product and the customer.
The human touch that bridges the gap between products/services and customers is known as the connectivity through sales. The sales department plays a key role in any business organization. Sale force is responsible for generating adequate revenue for the company to run its operations and business smoothly. Hence, the sales team is known as the heart of the company that pumps the required funds to the organization. The sales staff that includes technical sales people, product/service sales people, retails sales people, showroom sales people, Tele sales people, etc are a set of talented people in the sales industry. To be a professional salesman, people should have certain attributes, skills, knowledge and commitment.
Finding the right sales staff, retaining them and driving the sales force have became a board level issue for many companies now in Sri Lanka.
This issue of having an eligible sales team to achieve corporate objectives has gone beyond the corporate level to a national level issue. The sales staff contribution in generating revenue and achieving targets keeps the company financially stable and helps to achieve its corporate objectives of expanding the business, new investments, diversifications and so on. Hence, this issue has restricted the company’s growth into new heights.
Reaching SME sector
The sales staff issue is not limited to corporate and large organizations but now it has scaled down to SME sector too. The SMEs are the most vulnerable and affected. Due to lack of professional and hard working sales officers, their revenue has been affected. As an alternative to this requirement of doing sales, the SME entrepreneurs/partners are themselves are engaged in sales work. This restricts them in concentrating on operational and company growth work. If SMEs are to maintain a capable sales force, they may have to pay a high price tag which is not affordable for them at all.
The SMEs as well as corporate organization performance has a direct impact on the local economy growth. This is being reflected in the GDP and the governments are always committed to maintain a steady GDP growth.
Finding the right sales people as and when necessary and sustaining them have become a nightmare for HR staff too. Lack of required sales people has gone beyond its limits and it’s creating internal conflicts with the HR and the senior sales managers who complaint that lack of good sale people is the reason for target achievement setback. Hence, part of the blame goes to the HR/Recruiting Managers.
Apparently it’s more convenient for the HR and recruiting managers to find other professionals such as accountants, engineers, IT and Marketing staff other than sales staff.
The HR and recruiting managers devote most of their time and funds in searching for talented sales people. This issue has also opened an opportunity for recruiting and head hunting companies. But even these agencies are also faced with similar situation of finding right sales people for their clients.
Affecting other depts
Sales staff issue is not limited to HR and Sales Departments. Its adverse effects have reached the production, finance and administration and other departments too. The production team cannot reach its maximum performance level if the existing products are not moving. Furthermore, the finance and the admin department face cash flow, procurement, and other operational and logistic issues.
Sustaining the sales team is a major responsibility of the senior sales managers. In the recent past we have noticed that sales officers spend short term periods in different companies/industries. When an established sales officer suddenly plans to leave it becomes a nightmare for the management to find a suitable replacement to hand over the sales duties without any effect on the targets, revenue and customer perceptions. Hence, to recruit and sustain the sales officers, the companies are forced to pay higher salaries and offer better perks.
Generally, sales officer’s perks are fixed with basic salary, commission and other benefits; this includes vehicle, free fuel, foreign trips, recognition etc. When the salaries and the value of perks accelerate, the cost of sales increases resulting in price hike of the end product.
The sales officers are well aware of the potential demand existing for experienced, talented sales staff in the market. Thus, this situation has created more bargaining power for sales officers at the recruiting stage or when it comes to sustainability.
When a top sales officer plans to leave, the management always tries to persuade them with high perks, they know the value of maintaining well performing sales offers.
When sales officers are blessed with high fixed salary and other perks they may not perform as expected since they are in a comfortable zone. This is a negative repercussion of offering lucrative packages and perks at the recruiting and retention levels.
Comparatively to other staff the sales officers are the best earners of the company. In many organizations the sales officer’s monthly take home package exceeds Rs. 100,000 and in some situations the take home package exceeds Rs. 500,000.
To add more to the sales vacuum, there is a significant number of middle level sales staff migrating to Middle East and East Asian countries to work due to better perks.
The demand for sales officers are rapidly growing as the country moving forward. Although there is a significant demand for sales staff, the youth is more reluctant to take over sales related jobs due to various cultural and other issues.
The lack of sales resources in the market have created many direct and indirect issues for corporate as well as for SME customers. Increasing cost of sales, end product price increment, declining of sales revenue, internal conflicts between the senior sale managers and HR officers, performance of other departments which included less productivity, cash flow issues, unable to expand the business or conduct investments are some of them.
Apparently these issues are having a negative impact on the GDP. Hence, the government interference in this issue is needed to take suitable action to solve this national level crisis.
(The writer is a senior corporate executive, trainer and motivational speaker)