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Satisfied with Your Job? Not If You’re a Sales Executive

Debbie Antonelli of Richardson pointed out to me that a recent survey by ExecuNet has only 54% of sales executives are satisfied with their current job:

  Profession Percentage of Executives Satisfied With Current Job
  CFO/Comptroller 68%
  HR 65%
  Marketing 63%
  General Management 61%
  Sales 54%
  MIS/IT 53%
Source: ExecuNet 2008

I’m being not cynical when I say I’m surprised that the percentage for sales executives isn’t lower. 

More insight from the survey:

Top Five Reasons Executives Are Unhappy At Work

  1. Limited advancement opportunities (12.8%)
  2. Lack of challenge/personal growth (12.3%)
  3. Compensation (11.7%)
  4. Stress Level (7.7%)
  5. Job Security (7.7%)

For sales executives, I believe there is another reason for unhappiness in their jobs: many don’t have the capabilities to perform successfully.  It’s too much of a challenge rather than lack of a challenge (indicated in number 2 above).

Here are two indicators that this is true:  First, tenure of sales executives is getting shorter year after year.   These sales executives aren’t leaving their jobs in less than two years because they’ve been wildly successful.  Second is the overall lack of performance of the sales people that work for these sales executives.  Here are the stats again, for those of you who missed them:

  • Depending on the industry, 25% (e.g. heavy equipment) to 33% (enterprise application software) of sales people are unsuited for their job. (ES Research Group, 2007)
  • Only 37% of companies report forecast accuracy is greater than 50%. (CSO Insights 2007)
  • In 2006, 38.5% of salespeople missed their annual objective. Turnover among salespeople last year (2006) was 40%. (Sales Benchmark Index 2007)

This isn’t just a bad situation.  It’s an epidemic.


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