Study: Senior sales executives are not in touch with customers' pain

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New York--While 81% of senior sales executives said they have changed the way they sell because of a weak economy, 47% said they don't know what keeps their customers and prospects awake at night, according to a study by PepperCom, a strategic communications firm.

The study, based on interviews with 64 senior-level sales executives, also found a disconnect between sales and marketing. Nearly half (47%) of companies polled said the core sales and marketing messages are not the same.

Sales executives are also relying on tried-and-true strategies to pull them through the recession. The most common tactics being used to improve sales are spending more time on the phone (50%), increasing customer service (59%), and offering new services to customers (55%).

Steven Cody, managing partner of PepperCom, said most sales executives fall into one of two categories: grizzled veterans who are somewhat set in their ways or Generation X rookies who have never been forced to sell in a down economy.

"What they're both missing is the wherewithal to understand the customer or prospect's pain and how best to sell against that pain," Cody said.

--Kate Maddox

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