Most CEO's and Chief Sales Officers identify their biggest sales challenge as achieving revenue growth. When you dig a bit deeper, however, the lack of sales growth is the result of other challenges. Even in a slow growth market, there are other challenges that are causing companies to miss many sales opportunities.
A leading sales training and sales performance improvement firm, Richardson, Inc., recently conducted a survey of over 15,000 sales professionals to identify the most pressing issues facing sales organizations. When sales professional were asked about sales challenges, these were the most frequently identified issues in five key sales cycle categories:
- Business Generation — Identifying new prospects — 26.3% of the respondents
- Negotiations — Maintaining profitability during negotiations — 27.9% of the respondents
- Closing Deals — Positioning competing value propositions — 32.0% of the respondents
- Account Management — Finding additional ways to add value — 38.5% of the respondents
- Expanding Relationships — Becoming a Trusted Advisor — 36.5% of the respondents
Overcoming sales challenges without increasing expenses
The imperatives of the increasingly competitive marketplace make it more important than ever for companies to develop strategies to efficiently and effectively overcome these challenges. Many CEO's have integrated sales partners into their sale organizations to build new strengths and competencies to overcome these challenges – and done it without increasing expenses.
Identify new prospects
Most companies use outside vendors to provide them with sales leads but often these leads are not high-value prospects. Some sales leaders have improved their new customer prospecting efforts by investing in prospect identification and in prospect research so that the sales force can focus more of their effect of the top prospects. This can often be achieved without increase total marketing expense, and almost always results in sales gains.
Maintaining profitability during negotiations
In a highly competitive market, buyers have more power in negotiations. One way to level the playing field is to have industry experts provide your company with competitive intelligence. This insight can help determine if you need to adjust your offering, modify pricing and/or offer different terms.
Sales process optimization
The final three challenges all involve optimizing the sales process. Some companies have an internal sales leader who can lead them through the process of finding ways to improve closing rates with more effective competitive value proposition, identifying new ways to add value, and strengthening relationships by becoming a trusted advisor. Other companies use a combination of internal and external resources to develop a strategy to overcome these challenges and optimize their sales process.
How has your company tried to overcome its biggest sales challenges? Have you used internal staff or outsourced sales partners to lead this effort?