I’ve been keeping a list of what salespeople are struggling with – the challenges they have succeeding in sales. Here are the big eight.
Gaining a First Appointment: It can be very tough to get a first appointment. The contacts within your dream client’s company are happy with their existing partner, and they don’t have time to waste with salespeople-especially salespeople who can’t create value. To these contacts, the idea of spending time with salespeople sounds like wasted time. So, they work hard to sell you a “no,” when you make an ask.
The challenge you have is offering a value proposition for a sales call that is compelling enough to allow your prospective client to say yes to a meeting. Listening to you talk about your company isn’t that value proposition.
Developing Latent Dissatisfaction: Many of your dream clients don’t know that they should be dissatisfied. Or, they are dissatisfied, but they don’t believe that anyone can help them, and they have learned to live with the problems and challenges they have. Unless and until your dream client believes they need to change, they aren’t going to take action.
The challenge you have is making the case that change is necessary, and creating enough dissatisfaction to spur action.
Access to Stakeholders: Once you gain an appointment, you often find you need access to additional stakeholders. This access allows you to deepen your understanding of their challenges, and it allows you to build consensus. But some of your contacts will deny you that access, fearing they will lose control of the solution they need, or being forced to share the decision with others (even when they will need these others to say “yes”).
Your challenge is to gain the agreement to allow you access to the other stakeholders you need to do your best work.
Differentiation: It isn’t easy to differentiate your offering. You might sound like a lot of your competitors without meaning to. You might also have products, services, and solutions that look remarkably similar to the last three or four salespeople your dream client visited with. You can’t create a preference for you and your solution unless there is a clear difference.
Your challenge is to differentiate yourself, your company, and your solution from your competitors. You must be different in a way that makes a difference.
Obtaining the Necessary Investment: Let’s say you are different. Let’s you and I agree that you can produce a better outcome for your dream client. They want that better outcome, but they would very much like to have everything they want for what they are paying now—or less. They want better, faster, and cheaper.
Your challenge is helping your dream client make the necessary investment to producing those results. Much of the time, the reason your dream client isn’t producing the results they need is that they aren’t investing enough to get them.
Compelling Action: This is a two-part challenge. We’ll roll it into the next challenge. One of the most frequent challenges I hear from salespeople is that they “want to be more compelling.” What they mean is that they struggle to get their prospective clients to act on the solution they sell. Their prospects drag their feet, don’t return calls, and go a long time without making a decision one way or another. But that is the presenting problem, not the root cause.
Your challenge is to control the process so that you can move forward smoothly, while also focusing on what your prospect will gain, and what they lose, by not taking action now.
Gaining Commitments: There are sales pipelines around the world full of opportunities that are missing the next commitment that would move those opportunities forward. These prospective clients are going without the better results they need, these sales organizations are going without the results that they need, and these salespeople are going without the commissions they need.
Your challenge is to gain the next commitment necessary to move your opportunity before leaving every sales interaction. You have to know what you need (you’ll find it in your sales process), and you need effective language to ask for it (which you will find in your playbook).
Dealing with Difficult Personality Types: I’ve written about dominator hierarchies and actualization hierarchies. I’ve written about the business maturity continuum, and I’ve written about nightmare clients. If you are a live human being—in sales, or otherwise—you will encounter difficult personalities. You will need some of these people to move opportunities forward. Some of them may actually be your clients.
Your challenge is to find a way to work with difficult people. You need to find a way to work with their personality, without working against it and creating conflict.
The links in the article above are hints to solving the 8 biggest challenges in sales. They’ll nudge in the right direction in overcoming these challenges.