Readers: Sales reps have gotten worse
Survey: They are less competent than they were 10 years ago
November 5, 2012
A few weeks ago, Media Life received an email from a veteran media buyer lamenting her recent dealings with a sales rep.
The rep was clueless about the buyer, her client and general workplace etiquette.
The buyer opined that the quality of sales reps has gotten worse over the past few years, with the proliferation of internet startups and new facets of traditional media that reps are now called on to sell, often, she noted, without understanding the product.
She wondered if other buyers shared her feelings.
Apparently she is not alone in that opinion. According to a recent Media Life poll, the majority of buyers agree that the overall quality and competence of sales reps have gone down over the past decade.
Readers’ biggest complaints include reps who do not do their homework on a client ahead of time, reps who constantly badger them with phone calls, reps who give them incorrect or incomplete information and generally waste their time.
They agree that while there are some great reps out there, the majority of them do not know their stuff.
Media Life asked, “Have sales reps become more or less competent over the past decade?”
More than half, 54.4 percent, of readers chose this answer: “Less. Many of these young people don't understand the basics of business, much less how to help me and my clients.”
Buyers were quick to supply stories to support that claim.
Noted one reader, “I once received an entire presentation deck/plan done for me that was actually for our client's biggest competitor and not our client, complete with rates. We couldn’t believe it.”
Just over a quarter, 26.5 percent, said that sales reps are about as competent as they were 10 years ago. And just 19.1 percent said they’re more competent.
Further proof of readers’ increased frustration came from another question. Media Life asked readers what percentage of sales reps really know their stuff and are helpful.
Sixty-one percent answered that 40 percent or less know their stuff.
By comparison, when Media Life conducted this same survey five years ago, only 51.4 percent chose 40 percent or less.
Invited to list their biggest complaints about sales reps, readers noted a number of pet peeves.
Just over half said they are frustrated by reps who “don’t know anything about my client;” 47.1 percent said they call too much; 39 percent said they offer too hard a sell; and 31.6 percent said they try to go over the buyer’s head if the deal doesn’t work out.
Media Life also asked readers what the most annoying thing reps can do in a presentation, and 26.7 percent said it is not being prepared.
Another 25.9 percent said their biggest complaint was being made to sit through a presentation for something that could have been handled on the phone, and 21.5 percent said a presentation that takes too long.
Of course, media buyers are hardly perfect themselves.
Media Life asked reps to weigh in on what most frustrates them about buyers, and 42.7 percent said buyers’ impatience, complaining, “You don’t return my calls for a week, then you want an RFP by the end of the day.”
Another 34.1 percent criticized buyers’ close-mindedness, while another 15.9 percent hate getting last-minute cancellations when they’re already waiting in the lobby.
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