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6 Professional Sales Challenges for 2018
Blog / For Sales Pros / Feb 12, 2018 / Posted by Ben Taylor / 1468 

6 Professional Sales Challenges for 2018

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Each year, Richardson Sales Training asks sales professionals about the sales challenges that they anticipate in the coming year and complies their responses to create its annual selling challenges study.

Survey participants indicated a need to better articulate value in a market characterized by competition and multiple decision makers on the buying side. The sales professionals who prevail will win big as new opportunities escalate amid today’s robust business climate. Additionally, sales professionals are refocusing on the details of the customer’s challenges in order to better position solutions that fit. In this article, we explore common sales challenges and strategies for overcoming them.

1. Competing on Price

Sales professionals are feeling the pressure to articulate the value of their solution amid inexpensive alternatives.

Strong sales professionals overcome these challenges by converting demands to needs. This approach is important because needs (for example, “I need more flexibility in the payment schedule.”) are much easier to discuss and resolve than demands (for example, “I can’t pay that much.”). Once specific needs are understood, they may identify multiple options for meeting the need, which does not necessarily require concessions. In the end, they maintain the scope of the work and the pricing.

2. Prospecting

The increasing sophistication underpinning sales automation tools is motivating sales professionals to redesign their prospecting strategy.

Getting to the right stakeholder is part of the challenge behind creating a targeted prospecting strategy. More sales professionals are discovering that developing a brand marketing mindset helps clarify the right leading message. Doing so starts by considering what kind of customer they want to talk to and what those customers care about.

3. Complex Buyer Decision-Making Process

More stakeholders on the buyer’s side of the table lead to a complex decision-making process.

Sales professionals must remember to take the time to ask questions that reveal the decision-making tree. Doing so requires relationship building. Information moves freely with an established relationship between the sales professional and the buyer. The buyer is likely to recoil from direct questions about the decision-making process if they come before the sales professional has prepared some groundwork.

4. Combatting the Status Quo

Buyers today have more options. Each of these options has several possible outcomes. This complexity and the need to fulfill day-to-day responsibilities creates inertia.

Sales professionals can remind buyers that no decision is in fact a decision. Standing still carries risk, especially as the competition moves forward. Conveying this message requires a proactive mindset around a process that makes it easy for the buyer to do business with the sales professional.

5. Managing Accounts

Increasingly complex sales require more follow through. As a result, the sales professional has less time to pursue new opportunities.

The sales professional should communicate their intention to keep new product discussions separate from work already implemented. This approach permits time to focus on “whitespace” in the account without impeding on the value expected from previous solutions.

6. Building the Right Selling Skills

Respondents cited “asking insightful and relevant questions to understand customer needs and challenges” as the most valuable selling skill in 2018. Competition has forced many businesses to leverage nuanced differentiators. As a result, sales professionals recognize the need to make a greater effort to understand these details across a range of customers.

To reach a close, a sales professional needs a path. The customer’s responses to insightful questions reveal that path. Effective sales professionals start by offering context. They explain their thought process and why they’re asking the question.

Despite these challenges, there are great opportunities for sales professionals to win big in 2018. Those who engage every customer with understanding, preparation, and insight will differentiate themselves, which leads to meaningful results.

For more survey results and insights, download the full report, “2018 Research: Understanding Selling Challenges,” from the Richardson Sales Training Company website.

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About Author

Ben Taylor is the content marketing manager at Richardson. He has an MBA in finance from LaSalle University and over a decade of business & writing experience. He has covered content for brands including Nasdaq, Barclaycard & Business Insider.

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