New Manufacturing Study Reveals Top Industry Challenges

By: John Drosos Manufacturing, Sales Coverage

Today’s manufacturers face numerous challenges selling complex products and solutions amid a technologically charged landscape. From aligning the sales force around highest value customers to investing in digital sales and marketing channels to drive growth, global manufacturers strive to keep pace with major technological innovations.

Alexander Group’s recent Global Manufacturing Sales Practices Study uncovered key insights on commercial trends, threats, initiatives and investments. Over 60 leading manufacturers from North America, EMEA and APAC participated; four industry segments were represented—building materials, building systems, industrial materials and industrial & capital equipment. In addition, over 70 sales forces provided data sets, yielding rich industry benchmarks on growth, margins, costs, productivity, organization structure and sales compensation to the findings.

The top challenge for manufacturers? Customer alignment. Nearly all interviewed executives cited its high importance, but only 30 percent indicated that their organizations are currently effective in this area. Another key insight revealed that manufacturers are struggling to find, develop and retain talent who offer advanced business and technical skills. This lack of specific skills has resulted in higher turnover within sales forces, a trend that is likely to continue. In addition, only one-third of manufacturers utilized a formal, centralized sales operations team. However, participants who did have a sales operations team saw higher revenue growth and lower sales costs.

In the video below, John Drosos, principal and Manufacturing practice lead, and Parker James Thomas, business analyst and manufacturing study team leader, provide an overview of the current manufacturing landscape and key outcomes from the study.

Specifically, at 2:27 in the video, John discusses how manufacturers are investing in the digital space, which presents an exciting new opportunity for revenue growth.


Interested in learning how your sales team compares? Sign up for a study briefing with one of our Manufacturing practice leaders today.

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John Drosos

John Drosos is a principal in the Chicago office. He serves as a national lead for the firm’s Manufacturing and Distribution practices and the Midwest lead for the Technology practice. John has been with the firm since 2006 and brought with him diverse experience in strategy consulting, general management and technology consulting. John is a key thought leader on complex sales model transformations, global coverage strategies, productivity and analytics.  He has also helped shape the firm’s talent recruitment and development practices, playing a key role in the rapid and consistent growth of our Midwest consulting practice.

Prior to joining the Alexander Group, John worked as a general manager at Home Depot and as a consultant at both Bain & Company and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). John holds an MBA and a B.A. from Harvard University.

Parker James Thomas

Parker James Thomas is a business analyst in the Chicago office. Parker is part of the Sales Analytics and Benchmarking team that provides analytics and benchmarking insights across many of the firm’s projects and initiatives. He conducts data analysis, applies Alexander Group methodologies and participates in client interviews and related fact-finding initiatives to provide recommendations to clients.

Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Parker worked with Mu Sigma, a leading provider of analytics and decision sciences solutions to Fortune 500 companies. After a six-month training program in India, he served as a client services representative onsite at a top global consumer goods company. His work with the revenue growth management team focused on pricing and promotional strategy and sales team enablement. He has a B.A. from the University of Chicago.