IDC’s Sales Executive Service Examines Competing Demands of Increasing Sales Productivity and Adopting Solution Selling

FRAMINGHAM, MA – October 5, 2004 – Having prospered in a demand-rich industry, IT sales executives now face the dual challenge of increasing productivity and driving revenue growth while re-tooling their organizations to be truly effective at solutions selling. Unfortunately, selling solutions and maintaining sales productivity are competing priorities that pit top line growth against bottom line performance. In a survey of senior sales executives from across the IT spectrum , IDC's newest research service found that few companies are effectively rising to meet these challenges in the "new", slower-growth IT economy.

"Today's top sales executives face an environment where the management systems and philosophies by which they have traditionally practiced their trade are no longer relevant," said Donald MacDonald, vice president of Sales Management and Operations research at IDC. "To succeed in this new environment, sales executives have to move beyond the traditional mindset of growing sales simply by hiring and fielding more reps. They must make solution selling the company's mission if they are to be successful and profitable."

In its study, IDC identified several key management initiatives that IT sales executives must address to survive and thrive:

— Sales executives first need to work on internal and external alignment factors – aligning their sales organizations to market opportunities, aligning their internal resources to work together more effectively, and aligning their external resources for maximum impact.

— To help accelerate the complex and normally protracted nature of solutions selling, greater emphasis needs to be placed on the demand creation elements of the sales process.

— To improve the performance of their sales force, executives should expand their training investment, both inside and outside the company.

— Expand the role of sales operations to ensure that the competing mandates of productivity and solutions selling are balanced.

The organizations furthest along in balancing the competing requirements of productivity maintenance and solutions-selling competency have established formal solutions-based metrics the tracking of business activity around specific customer projects. To monitor and measure progress, IDC recommends that sales executives embrace the REPS framework, consisting of four categories of performance metrics: Revenue, Expenses, Productivity, and Stakeholders.

In this study, The Sales Executive Challenge: Sales Productivity and Solution Selling at Odds (IDC #31987), IDC presents the findings of its survey of 26 senior sales executives in tier one IT vendor companies. The survey addresses the challenges and actions that sales leadership must take in reaction to management mandates that call for productivity increases in the rapidly changing IT industry.

IDC's new Sales Executive Service provides senior sales and sales operations executives with research and in-depth analysis into sales strategies and planning, effective sales organizational structures, staffing and skill set issues, sales tools and technologies, benchmarks for measuring sales performance, and best practices for improving overall sales productivity. For more information about this new research service, please contact Miriam Kutcher at 508-988-6964 or

About IDC

IDC is the premier global market intelligence and advisory firm in the information technology and telecommunications industries. We analyze and predict technology trends so that our clients can make strategic, fact-based decisions on IT purchases and business strategy. Over 700 IDC analysts in 50 countries provide local expertise and insights on technology markets. Business executives and IT managers have relied for 40 years on our advice to make decisions that contribute to the success of their organizations.

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