Completed Inquiry:  Increasing productivity [in UK PLC] by improving sales effectiveness in SMEs.

Looking at the challenges that SMEs have in hiring, developing and retaining the best sales talent for optimising their commercial success.  What are the inhibitors to this?  Is the culture of the founder/CEO a factor?  Do larger companies crowd smaller ones out?  Do SMEs look for the wrong types of commercial leadership?  Do they struggle to make themselves attractive as an employer?  As SMEs are over 50% of the private sector, helping them to be more successful through improving their sales capabilities will have a direct impact on the UK economy.

The report sets out 24 recommendations that can be condensed into four key changes that Britain needs to make:

  1. Learn: study sales ethics and techniques in schools and colleges and create sales research centres at universities.
  2. Train: help SMEs to develop sales skills, to manage sales better, and to embrace digital sales technologies.
  3. Respect: recognise sales as a profession with a standards body established by Royal Charter to ensure high ethical standards.
  4. Lead: appoint a sales tsar to take responsibility for driving change, and for ensuring that this vital part of the economy is understood at the heart of government

The report to this inquiry is published here.

Future Inquiries:

  • “Selling value for public sector procurement – buying on price drives out innovation and productivity improvements”.
    • When the selection criteria is weighted more than 35% on price, the low price offer will invariably win the bid.  Innovation and quality is then driven out in favour of the lowest price. This can lead to poor lifetime value of the service or product as well as limiting innovation and the ability of smaller companies to compete for business.
  • “The professionalism of sales”.
    • Getting sales to be seen as a positive and aspirational career destination, that attracts ethical and high calibre people.  How AI and technology will impact the profession.  Good selling delivers value for the buyer – they acquire something of benefit to themselves or their employer.  If sales had a better reputation then more business could be transacted, increasing the collective value gained by the buying community.