Solving Sales Challenges

March 23, 2017

At any one time in a business, sales might be declining, stagnant, or increasing. Regardless of the current sales trend, all businesses strive for additional sales. An analysis of sales challenges and development of solutions to those challenges can result in improved sales. Sales analysis, however, to be effective does not strictly come from a small business or SME owner but should involve everyone involved in sales (i.e., the sales team). When allowed to participate in developing solutions, the outcome is greater ownership and motivation by salespeople.

Depending on the size of the business and number of salespeople, teams can be tasked with analyzing several key areas, diagnosing challenges in each area, and then developing solutions to help improve individual sales performance. Team results can be compared for similarities and differences.

The sales team or teams can be tasked to review the following:

Buyer behavior

•    What are the primary motivators that buyers want when purchasing the company's products or services?
•    What benefits or problem solutions are buyers seeking?
•    How do most customers prefer to buy, what steps do they take in the sales process, who is involved, etc.?

Company strategy

•    What markets does the company target? Why? What is working and not working?
•    How does the company attract, engage, and acquire new customers? What is working and not working?
•    Why does the company close some sales opportunities and not others?

Sales team performance

•    What factors contribute to the salespeople reaching their goals?
•    What factors contribute to the salespeople not reaching their goals?

Possible solutions from analysis

•    What are the best types of customers to target?
•    What are the most effective ways to get in the door?
•    What produces the greatest impact to close a sale?
•    What are the best ways to access the decision maker?
•    What are the key indicators to indicate if the sales process is working for a particular customer?
•    How can it best be determined if a salesperson is likely to achieve his or her sales quota?
•    How should salespeople manage themselves and their time to maximize results?
•    How can management assist salespeople to achieve results?
•    What type of training is most beneficial to salespeople?
•    What can best enhance the sales process?
•    What key activities are most beneficial to win customers and make sales?
•    What are key indicators that the sales process is not moving forward with a particular customer?

Brainstorming among salespeople is a worthwhile endeavor that seeks input from those individuals directly involved in the sales process. It is through this type of analysis that other observations, in addition to the direct sales process, can be made regarding critical issues in a business that might have a positive or negative effect on sales. Some of these observations and issues might relate to:

•    Employee turnover and morale among salespeople
•    Sales training and product/service training
•    Company position relative to the competition
•    Access to management
•    Brand recognition
•    Ramp time for new salespeople
•    Regular scheduled sales meetings (or no meetings)
•    Profile of best customers

There are sales challenges in any business that must be overcome before sales can reach the next plateau. When the sales team works as a cohesive unit, both evident and underlying problems and issues can be resolved. Rather than hoping sales will improve, imposing higher quotas on salespeople, firing those who don’t meet their objectives, and hiring new salespeople without adequate training will not consistently over a period of time achieve desired sales goals. Businesses that do spend adequate time with a structured approach to solving sales challenges see their efforts pay off with increased revenues, higher closing rates, and motivated salespeople.