Extended sales cycles hurting custom manufacturers

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New Delhi, Mar 26 (ANI/Business Wire India): The average salesperson selling custom build-to-order and engineer-to-order manufacturing products can sell without engineering or IT assistance only 25 percent of the time or less. This is according to a research report released today by software maker Cincom Systems (www.cincom.com/q2o).

In fact, sales managers surveyed for the report said that fewer than 10 percent of their sales forces could sell customized products without assistance more than 75 percent of the time.

"Best Practices in Sales Effectiveness for Build-to-Order Products" (http://www.cincom.com/salesreport) discusses the findings of a report from a sales perspective on the state of mass-customization and build-to-order practices.

Close to 15 percent of the sales managers surveyed said it took their sales cycle more than 18 days between qualifying a customer and validating an opportunity. This compared to half the sales managers that said it took them less than two days, with the remaining 35 percent somewhere in the middle.

"Companies that needed, over 18 days of elapsed time to complete [sales steps] are likely to find themselves at a competitive disadvantage," writes Jim Wilson, Cincom Program Director and author of the report. "Companies that can complete any of these steps. with a day or less of elapsed time can easily outperform their competition."

To further compound this problem, 25 percent of sales managers report that engineering team members with expertise in custom manufacturing products are nearing retirement. This means that soon the experts that salespeople rely on will no longer be readily accessible.

IT Priorities Don't Address Sales Issues

Many of these sales issues could be met with a knowledge management system. However in a separate IT survey conducted by Cincom, knowledge management ranked last in priority with only 34 percent of IT managers ranking it as "important" or "very important."

"The implication is that the knowledge required to sell customized products is not being effectively transferred to the field and customer. This is not surprising given the lack of strategic investment in front-office processes and systems," writes Wilson.

Cincom Systems targeted the survey at senior sales executives, mostly at the vice president level, at 900 manufacturers of complex industrial, electrical and transportation equipment and systems.

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