UK businesses need to urgently upskill sales staff through training and development, adapt to new opportunities quicker and offer attractive retention and reward packages in order to avoid a ‘sales skills void’, says a leading consultancy.
Experts at SalesFitness Group, which launched specifically to help companies operate more efficiently and sell more, say that investment in sales training and professional development is crucial for jobs and growth. All UK sectors and markets have been plagued by a significant skills gap which threatens to restrict the UK economy from getting back on track and avoid falling into further turmoil.
The latest business insights and impact survey from the Office for National Statistics show that 32% of private sector organisations with 10 or more employees experienced a shortage of workers in December.
Research* last year found that a record 78% of employers experienced difficulty filling jobs due to a lack of skilled talent, an increase of 69% since 2010. Large and medium-sized firms found the most difficulty, with 81% and 80%, respectively, struggling to fill roles. SMEs and micro businesses experienced similar problems, with 76% of small and 67% of micro-businesses finding it hard to attract suitable talent.
The research also highlighted the most in-demand roles for UK employers in 2022:
1) IT and data
2) Front office/customer facing
3) Administration/office support
5) Operations/logistics Skills
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt states there are 300,000 fewer people in employment than before the pandemic. He warned that UK firms would find it difficult to grow if they could not find enough staff to fill available roles.
Commenting on the widening skills gap, Richard Higham, director at the SalesFitness Group, said: “The skills gap in all areas of business is widening steadily, and action needs to be taken to prevent it from becoming impossible to close. The sales sector is not immune from this and has witnessed an exodus of experienced professionals leaving the industry and, at the other end, a distinct lack of fresh, new talent looking to get in on the act.
“The impact of a high turnover of sales staff has always been problematic in business, but the financial consequences are now becoming even bigger with a growing crisis in emerging sales talent. Retaining existing sales reps is a struggle for sales leaders and business owners, and it’s proving harder to find and develop sales talent to replace those who have left. The economic climate and the generally poor widespread practice of attracting, enhancing and retaining sales talent have increased sales personnel departures in every industry sector to record levels.”
SalesFitness Group believes that good selling is crucial for individual business expansion and wider economic growth. However, it also believes that in a rapidly changing business world, the strategies, processes and skills that have served in the past must adapt and change to deliver future growth and results. Shifting to a hybrid sales approach enabled by technology can help businesses grow, even in the most challenging conditions.
SalesFitness Group supports companies ranging from Mizuno Golf to Chargeurs Group, an international high-technology manufacturing company and operator of the world’s largest studio dedicated to creating cultural content.
Richard Higham added: “The sales profession as a whole needs to be re-invigorated and upskilled if selling is to play a major role in helping to steer the UK out of trouble, creating jobs and building new markets overseas, which it is more than capable of doing. Turning the sales business into an appealing, exciting career path to entice people is essential if the UK skills gap is to be closed.
“There has never been a more critical time to manage an efficient and focused sales operation. Tough economic conditions often create market disruption and the opportunity to win market share. An innovative approach to improving sales by combining leading consultancy, data insights, organisational design, team development and analytics can stimulate the growth the sales function needs and also help to bridge the UK skills gap.”
*2022 UK Talent Shortage Report – ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, Q3 2022