According to the first survey conducted in May 2012 by Stanton Chase Bucharest the conclusions that arose sawed that the profile of the Sales Executive has diversified considerably, reflecting the general turmoil in the professional and social arena.
This ‘Sales Survey’ analyzes and presents the market trends and composes the new profile of the Romanian Sales Executives. More than 210 senior executives, across all sectors, responded to our questionnaire, regarding the conditions and challenges in this volatile job market.
Nowadays executives are required to manage a variety of problems in an unstable, uncertain and hard environment. The competitive pressure, market and supply chain globalization emerged as the most important factors which are affecting their role. Their priorities regarding their business direction with a significant share are the customer orientation, strategic orientation and results orientation, followed by the teamwork skills. As for the conclusions arose from the responses to the question: ‘How is the effectiveness of a Top Sales Executive measured?’, profitability comes first, with a percentage of 25% (in other countries more than 80%), followed by the alignment of sales with the business policy, with 23%, and customer satisfaction with 22%.
The role of a Sales Executive is extremely crucial during the recession throughout Europe. But which are the characteristics that a sales person must now show in this country? The ability to manage sales & turnover, with a percentage of 23%, is considered as the most important skill for a successful executive. Second in ranking, with a percentage of 19%, are the ability to handle customer relations and the ability to handle large accounts. Respondents admit that these particular areas are the ones that present the greatest lack of talent.
Concerning the qualifications that are considered as necessary for professional recognition and success, primary are the communication skills, as well as the ability to listen and negotiate. Ranked second comes confidencecoupled with the ability to perform under high pressure. Last follows the margin control best mix for business and customer. It is clear that the business environment is considered as challenging, volatile and sensitive, and this makes them move very carefully and with ‘stretched ears’. In the group, they want people focused on what they do, with dedication, good attitude, enthusiasm, desire for success, discipline and honest. On the other hand, concerning the requirements that the Top Management sets to the Sales Executives, the respondents agreed that the increase of sales and the provision of high margins are requested. More strongly than in the past, the priorities of leadership are to ensure sustainability through, of course, sales. More specifically, the profile of the ideal Sales Executive must combine general management capabilities so that continuous and profitable growth of the company is ensured. Furthermore, the sales management and leadership skills are considered quite significant, while the deep understanding of the sector is not considered very important.
If it was required to rate the qualifications based on their importance, the hierarchy would be as follows: leadership skills, integrity, organization & planning, communication skills, and commercial awareness.
Finally, with regard to the priorities of the Sales Department, in the first place is the rapid response towards the market needs combined with the ability to adapt to changing conditions. Second comes the new business development, followed by the evolution and development of sales, and last comes selling globally.
Regarding their careers and job prospects, the respondents were given additional questions that examined among others, the following issues:
- How they view the future of the domestic market, where do the most opportunities arise in the Romanian market today?
- What is their biggest concern in terms of competition and their clients?
- What they believe will help them achieve their career goals and to what extent are they willing to change career and country for this purpose
- If they think that Romania will recover and when.
Firstly, they are very optimistic about the professional future within the next 12 months. Only a 10% said they are unaware of their next steps. Therefore, they do not feel professionally threatened by the situation, at least for the next period of time. Furthermore, they consider that this financial situation will strengthen rather than weaken their role and position. They see this situation as a critical challenge that they can successfully cope with using strategy and attention. It is interesting to see some of the views below:
- “The sales/commercial functions will gain a higher importance in the overall business strategy settings”
- “More strategic decisions and involvement”
- “In a difficult financial climate,successful Top sales Executives will be more valued as in normal times…”
- “Good people can make the difference in hard times”
It is also interesting which subsector of Sales will be given the strongest emphasis during the next 12 months.
First comes Business Development with 45%. Second comes Key Account with 26.5%, third Customer Marketingwith 13% and fourth Trade Marketing & Field Sales with 10% each.
Finally, they believe that the available job opportunities in various sectors of the market are more likely in the field of Energy, followed by IT, the Pharma & Medical Devices Industry, Consumer Products, and Communication Technologies.
Their greater concerns about competition are to have competitive prices, increase their market share against the competition, and the ability of exposure and offers of products and services. In this regard, their concerns about the customers are the increase of customer penetration as well as the improvement/development of sales strategy. They emphasize on the existence of the development/improvement of a management system focusing on customer relationships, meanwhile they even seem willing to change their sales style, if this would lead to achieving a greater market penetration.
International experience and being visible in the market are considered to be as the most important factors which can ensure their success and personal development, for almost 23% (each) of the respondents. Moreover, developing International Experience is considered as a very significant point.
The percentage of Sales Executives who wish to explore the possibility of a new career is overwhelming: 97%! All of them are willing to assess new professional opportunities, demonstrating that there are no longer tights and that the market is open in every direction. The main reason that prompts executives to explore other professional directions is precisely to ensure success through continuous development and search, with almost 60%. Of course there are those who would make such a move because they are not happy with their current employment (16%) or they want to secure higher wages (15%).
The most known and effective way to achieve change in career, with a significant percentage of 34%, is through Executive Search companies.After that, follows the Networking, meaning the expansion and development of the private network of acquaintances and contacts.
Huge willingness is observed on exploring opportunities for resettlement overseas. 79% of respondents responded positively to this possibility. The opportunities are increased, the potentials of the Romanian economy are limited, the environment more and more demanding. All these points urge the Romanian Executives to examine opportunities abroad, where the chances of career development and prosperity are far more. With greater ease, the Sales Executives would go to the nearest more familiar markets of Europe (36%), North America (21%) and in Asia (15%).
Regarding the general economic situation in Romania, the respondents are moderately optimistic. A 47% believes that the crisis in Romania will last till 2014, while the first signs of recovery will occur after a period of 12 months.
To ensure their current employment, within such a pessimistic environment, necessary measures must be taken, sometimes easy, sometimes difficult. 18% replied that the costs should be reduced and the operations should be shrunk, 16% replied that there should be expansion of the business and hiring of new people, while 43% replied that both should be done.
These trends and conclusions, as they arise from the research, bring forward the anxiety and the troubled daily living of the Sales Executives. They are confronted with the harsh reality of difficult market, dismissals, cost reductions, and the growing demands of leadership. They are faced with a situation in which they have to walk a tightrope and keep balance when everything around them is unstable. In conclusion, personal responsibility, careful long term planning, flexibility and adaptability are the only tools for effective advancement and prosperity for every Sales Executive.