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One-third of sales representatives are "often" or "always (on a daily basis)" frustrated by their inability to quickly locate sales materials, according to a recent survey by Brainshark.

How bad is it? Nearly a quarter (22%) say they'd "need a GPS to find the materials [they] need," and 28% say their company's approach to organizing sales materials makes finding the right content chance-driven at best.

Below, additional key findings from the survey, which asked 416 sales professionals (reps and managers) about how they prepare for meetings, present during those meetings, and follow up afterward.

Preparation

  • 40% of sales reps usually start preparing within a day of an impending presentation.
  • 12% wait until the day of the meeting.
  • Just 16% are early birds—starting at least a week in advance.

Where do they prepare for presentations? Among the top-cited responses by survey respondents:

  • In the car: 64%
  • On a plane: 58%
  • At a coffee shop: 52%
  • On vacation: 42%
  • In the bathroom: 27% (20% in the shower)

Presenting

The sales reps surveyed said they had given presentations in a wide range of places—a wedding, a storage closet, Disney World. Top locations for presenting:

  • Formal business setting: 81%
  • Restaurant: 63%
  • Social event: 54%
  • Coffee shop: 45%
  • Bar: 35%

Reps cited iPads as an essential asset during presentations. In fact, they'd rather go to a meeting without the following items than go without their tablets:

  • Matching socks: 61%
  • Underwear: 47%
  • Deodorant: 32%

Follow-Up

Reps most frequently follow up via email (92%) and phone (70%).

The most common follow-up challenges:

  • Unresponsive/difficult-to-reach prospects: 55%
  • Not knowing who else is influencing purchasing decisions: 49%
  • Having a hard time telling whether the prospect is interested: 26%
  • Not having appropriate follow-up materials: 17%

Making the Grade

In the survey, sales reps were asked to grade how well they prepare, present, and follow up. Then managers were asked to grade their reps' activities as well. They didn't quite see eye-to-eye:

  • Preparation: 77% of reps graded themselves a B or better for their prep work (16% said they deserved As). Managers weren't quite as effusive: 58% thought reps merited a B or above (only 7% As), with 42% grading reps a C or below.
  • Presenting: Only 14% of reps thought their presentation skills deserved a C or lower. But managers begged to differ: 43% rated reps with a C or worse. Nearly a quarter (22%) of reps thought they earned an A for their presentations, compared with 8% of managers who thought so.
  • Follow-up: Reps were twice as likely as managers (21% versus 10%) to think they earned an A for post-meeting follow-up. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of reps rated themselves a B or higher, compared with 55% of managers.

For more findings from the report, check out the following infographic:

About the research: The report was based on data from an online survey conducted by Brainshark in September 2013 of 416 sales professionals (199 sales reps and 217 sales managers) from US companies of various sizes and across industries.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of Ayaz Nanji

Ayaz Nanji is a digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Media, a marketing agency specializing in content and social media services for tech firms. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji