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Challenges in Sales: How to solve 5 common problems

A career in sales is, without a doubt, a challenging one. It requires an adaptable mindset, a tonne of objectivity and unfailing optimism. With 60% of buyers saying 'no' at least four times before saying 'yes', you need to have a strong follow-up game and a thick skin.

Salespeople are a vital component in any business; prospects want to talk to a representative of your company at a time in the buyer's journey that suits them.

  • 19 % of buyers seek out a connection with a salesperson at the awareness stage,
  • 60 % are keen to chat during the consideration phase,
  • and 20 % are ready for a conversation at the decision stage.


But why is making that conversion often such a challenge? 

In this article, we've identified the top five problems that may be forming an obstacle to your sales team's success. Whether you're a B2B or a B2C, these sales challenges are shared across industries, and addressing them now could drastically improve your sales figures. Let's explore…

1. Challenge in Sales: A super lengthy sales process

If you're in the business of selling big-ticket items that require a fair amount of consideration from the buyer, you probably have a long sales process. Your customer will need more information and reassurance that your product or service is worthy of their investment. There are many touchpoints; throughout each one, your salespeople will become more and more invested. Relationship building is an essential part of selling goods and services that require vast sums of money, meaning that a salesperson will have less time to focus on other sales and prospects. With all (or most) of their eggs in a single basket, it can be super demoralising when a deal falls through. Indeed, a long sales process can be a perilous one. 

The solution

Although your salespeople are the gatekeepers to your business in many ways, they don't have to be the gatekeepers to vital sales information. Providing them with practical automation tools ad robust sales enablement materials that solve the common questions they encounter daily from prospects can have a transformation effect. 

Blogs, videos, articles, case studies and industry reports can help to educate buyers from the early stages to the decision-making part of the buyer's journey. By collaborating with your marketing team, sales can assist in creating powerful and effective content that limits the number of touchpoints they have to commit to, allowing them to focus on the most purchase-ready prospects. 

2. Challenge in Sales: Short on leads

Leads are the lifeblood of our business. You need a steady stream to ensure you can generate enough revenue to sustain and grow your business. Without enough leads, your sales team's energy and enthusiasm can quickly wane. The trick, of course, is to acquire high volumes of the right-fit leads for your business.

The solution

Generating leads at any cost is never a good strategic decision. Filling your salespeople's pipeline with low-value leads wastes time and resources. The solution is to create excellent quality content that focuses on buyer intent and answers the questions that prospects ask when they're genuinely interested in your products or services and ready to buy. 

By aligning sales and marketing, these teams can work together to create premium content for the people who are asking the right types of questions, rather than fluffy entertainment pieces that may gather some traffic and reactions but only generate high volumes of irrelevant prospects.

3. Challenge in Sales: Unqualified leads

A qualified lead is one that has the means to buy what you sell, is ready to sell to and is a key decision maker. Unqualified leads are the types of people who clog up your sales funnel and have your sales team playing the numbers game – make enough calls, and someone's bound to buy! This is a tremendous waste of time and, once again, certainly not the confidence boost your salespeople need to reach their targets. Ultimately, if a prospect can't afford your goods and services, no amount of sales talk or premium content will get them to buy.

The solution

Many businesses don't recognise how important it is for prospects to self-identify whether they are a right fit for their type of business and offering. They do this by being mysterious about pricing and not openly answering the key questions that buyers may have. Ensuring your website is highly informative and focused on the questions that your read-to-buy prospects are likey to ask will help others to simply opt out without wasting any of your time or sales resources. 

4. Challenge in Sales: Bad-fit prospects are eating your time

Here, we are not talking about folks that can't afford your products. Instead, bad fit prospects can buy from you ... but they'll make you pay for it. 

This type of nightmare client can suck your service delivery and salespeople dry. They're the type of customers who make a lot of demands, have a tonne of complaints, want everything yesterday and have unrealistic expectations about the results you should be delivering. Bad-fit prospects can become part of your client list partly because you saw the financial potential and also because you may have sold to them knowing that you were slightly shoehorning your product or service, hoping to solve their problem.

The solution

Just say no. Honesty is the best policy here. The truth is, there is no universal product that can solve everything for everyone. Start by first creating a clear picture of who your ideal buyer is – Who does your business sells to? By getting this part right in your sales process, you will retain happy clients for a long time because you can easily service their needs. While it may be tempting to sell to pretty much anyone who's willing to pay, think about the implications of handling the fallout. This needs to be made clear to your salespeople and outlined in a sales process that everyone follows, ensuring no bad-fit clients slip into your circle of happy, well-aligned clients. 

5. Challenge in Sales: Low-value tasks reduce your sales productivity

Did you know that, on average, salespeople only spend a third of their day talking to prospects? The rest of their time is consumed by emails, entering data, researching, meetings and call scheduling. A poor sales performance can directly be attributed to the amount of time your salespeople spend on actual selling. It's a vicious cycle because salespeople are usually rewarded based on deals and sales; therefore, low-value tasks result in fewer opportunities and growing feelings of frustration that can eventually create a toxic and even more unproductive work environment.

The solution

If your salespeople are inundated with low-value tasks, it's time to look at what's eating into their time and how this can be redistributed, reprioritised and minimised through an effective audit and optimisation of each step in the sales process. 

The company culture may need to change in order to give salespeople the autonomy to do what they do best: selling. Give salespeople the time to manage their own calendar and prioritise sales productive tasks ahead of things that can don't actually generate any income for the business. People in management and leadership roles should also look to reduce meetings and instead find a more impactful and effective way of communicating key information without continuously disrupting or monopolising the sales team's available sales hours.

Key Tip: Learning and self-improvement 

Challenges im Sales

Most of the challenges we've discussed are prevalent in organisations that lack a culture of continuous learning and education. By encouraging and enabling your sales team to acquire new, relevant skills in the sales realm, they'll feel more motivated and empowered to improve results. The modern sales process is supported by new automated and data-based tools that allow salespeople to target qualified leads at the right time more effectively. But in order to leverage the power of these tools, your team needs to be comfortable and well-versed in using them.

For example, if you've got the HubSpot Sales Hub, ensure that your team is taking advantage of the free playbooks and HubSpot Academy courses available within the platform. Or maybe they just need a little bit more information about Sales Development - this article could help to understand.