Selling Power Blog

News & Insights for B2B Sales Leaders

October 21, 2009

10 Tough Challenges Salespeople Face Today and What to Do About It

By Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and CEO, Selling Power

Selling Power recently conducted a survey of sales managers to determine what challenges they are currently facing. Of the 420 responses, here are the 10 most frequently mentioned challenges. These challenges are not in any particular order.

The purpose of this post is to explore a methodology for handling sales challenges quickly and effectively during your next sales meeting. It is common for sales managers to quickly jump from a problem to a solution and then to sell the solution to everybody on the team; however, this shortcut in thinking and precipitous action is not often rewarded with success. Someone once said that “thinking is an experiential form of action.” Thinking is cheap, but action is expensive.

It may be a good idea for you, the sales leader, to create your own list of sales challenges and bring it to your next sales meeting. Ask your salespeople to cocreate new solutions. Instead of handing out your solutions, put their minds to work and encourage them to create at least five solutions to each challenge. Next, implement the solutions and discuss the results in your next sales meetings.

Sales Challenges Management Questions Creative Solutions
1. Longer decision time frames What are the causes? What would accelerate the lead pipeline? Create a more attractive selling proposition. Improve lead scoring and prospect engagement. Create a lead-nuturing process. Accelerate lead flow.
2. Need to win more proposals What technology can cut proposal writing time? What process can improve win rates? Explore such vendors as Big Machines and Sant.
3. Competing with a lower-priced competitor whose promises won’t hold up over time How can we educate customers to justify an investment in quality? How do our best salespeople sell value over price? Collect authentic customer testimonials that focus on value. Ask independent expert to create a white paper. Use social networking to promote long-term value.
4. Finding more qualified leads How do we define a qualified lead? What are our best lead sources? What new lead sources can we tap into? Explore online lead sources, such as Inside ViewZoomInfoHooversJigsawLeadDogs. Explore outsourcing lead qualification. Check out , InsideSales, and ConnectAndSell.
5. Weathering budget cuts What are our customers buying today? How can we encourage them to consider fresh ideas? What impact can we have on our customers’ bottom lines? Price more aggressively. Allow customers to defer payments. Alternate financing options. Explore high cost of doing nothing. Better justify ROI.
6. Deals lost to delays How do we transform our sales funnel into a buy-cycle funnel? How well do we understand how our customers buy? Review the lead-scoring process. Improve the sales process to gain a specific commitment at the conclusion of every call. Gain commitment at a higher level.
7. Too many competitors What is the best way to differentiate our solution? How can we improve our sales message? How can we deliver more value? Improve the quality of each customer interaction. Improve the collaboration between sales and marketing, and create integrated social-media campaigns. Present more customer testimonials.
8. Little customer interest in our add-on services What changed? How do customers think about our product? What are the top three customer priorities? Bring the customer’s voice back into the company. Align customer priorities with product development and marketing.
9. Fewer staff members to help hit sales targets How can we improve our sales support? What are the underserved needs of our sales team? Invest more time in training sales support. Streamline the sales process. Create better metrics to understand what really drives productivity.
10. Getting through to the C-level decision makers What is the current process? How do we train our team? What is our big-game hunting strategy? Train and coach salespeople on C-level selling techniques. Read Whale Hunting by Tom Searcy. Set up CEO-to-CEO calls.


Key takeaway: Problems are nothing but wake-up calls for creativity.

Headshot of Gerhard Gschwandtner

Today's blog post is by Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and CEO of Selling Power.