As we enter a likely global recession and continue to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, we are seeing some alarming trends in our 2022 Sales Challenges Surveys. These trends suggest many organizations are unprepared for the chaotic and uncertain market conditions that lie ahead.
In our surveys, over 750 strategic salespeople across multiple industries globally pointed to three significant sales challenges.
The top sales challenge was “Getting Powerful People to Influence the Outcome in My Favor.”
When we probe this more deeply, strategic salespeople report having more difficulty creating and collaborating with client contacts, especially at senior levels, which has only been exacerbated by the need to sell virtually.
This was confirmed in an October webinar, when attendees were polled on how much success they had creating Partner Allies in a virtual world. The results showed 63% had limited success, 38% had the same success as in-person, and no one said they had more success.
When salespeople are uncomfortable with relationship strategy, especially in virtual interactions, we see them resort to more transactional (level one) selling where they focus primarily on their solution and price. This behavior only acts to accelerate commoditization and add pressure to deal margins.
The second most reported sales challenge was “Getting a Prospect to Consider Creating Budget for Our Offerings.”
Said differently, salespeople are having difficulty creating demand. As a result, many are resorting to a reactive, “wait for the client to ask,” or worse, “wait for the RFP” selling approach. Some of this is caused by supply chain and delivery issues, where salespeople say they are hesitant to position solutions they worry cannot be delivered.
We all know what happens to win rates and margins when a sales organization is purely reactive. More importantly, this selling approach requires enough market demand to achieve individual and organizational goals, and many clients are already reporting reduced demand.
The third most reported sales challenge, I believe, is the most alarming – “Prioritizing My Time Among My Many Accounts, Sales Opportunities, and Leads.”
Salespeople report being constantly pulled in multiple directions and say they oftentimes do not have the ability to do the things that are more difficult and take time, namely relationship development and demand creation!
But it goes much deeper than that. Many report that the sales execution processes they were using prior to the pandemic are no longer as effective, or do not even work at all. Yet many organizations continue to focus only on WHAT they sell vs. HOW they sell.
The complexities of strategic selling, especially across multiple stakeholders both in the client and in your own organization, require a common and repeatable process for sales execution excellence at every stage of the sales process.
There is additional bottom-line pressure today caused by issues like the rising cost of materials and expenses, supply chain shortages, wage increases and employee churn, pricing pressure, etc. Much of which is out of our control! Tackling these sales challenges NOW is critical to producing profitable sales and meeting targets.
There are three critical questions you should confirm with your sales organization to help determine where to focus your coaching and development efforts:
- Do we have a repeatable process and focused approach for creating new demand?
- Can the team successfully create and leverage important relationships to win deals?
- Have you examined each phase of your sales process, from Targeting to Fulfilling, and optimized it for today’s selling environment, and does everyone know their role in successfully executing it?