As a sales executive ascends the corporate ladder, managing and delivering tasks becomes more and more challenging.
The reasons for such a tendency are rather obvious – as an individual climbs a company hierarchy, their level of responsibility and the complexity of their tasks will increase. Furthermore, in today’s business landscape, executives are often required to deliver more with less. For instance, C-levels are likely to raise the bar on the next quarter’s sales targets while also reducing the available budget. Alongside the new challenges regarding resources, sales executives also have to manage intensified competition. Now, markets in every sector are more and more overcrowded, with greater pressure to drop prices. What’s more, this imperative to reduce prices comes together heightened customer expectations.
These are but a few of the demands a sales executive will face in a high-pressure business environment. In a situation where they are constantly expected to do more with less, fend off competition, devise pricing strategies, handle staff turnover and deliver high-level customer services, many might begin to feel overwhelmed. However, experienced professionals have devised strategies to rise to these daily challenges. Armed with this knowledge, a sales executive can strive to over-deliver on every business objective. Below, we discuss the five critical challenges sales executives face, as well as provide some advice on how to overcome these obstacles.
1. Misaligned sales techniques
The customer should be at the center of every sales interaction. This is particularly the case in contemporary markets, where consumers are becoming savvier by the day. Whereas once a ‘hard sell’ would have shifted a product or service, customers are increasingly wise to these blunt tools. Now, consumers demand transparency, personalization, and authenticity. As a result, sales executives and marketers have had to significantly refine their approach.
Therefore, customer relations and client satisfaction should be at the core of a business’s sales technique. Customer behavior should be carefully monitored, as buying habits fluctuate and morph. Subsequently, the only way to deliver a consistently successful sales process is to mirror these behaviors. Businesses can seek to monitor customer behavior through a variety of traditional and technological methods, from customer surveys to data insights. Once sales teams extract intelligence from diverse sources, they can work towards delivering a higher standard of service.
2. Drowning in data
What makes consumers savvier is the availability of information. Today, potential customers have access to hundreds of different options from a myriad of suppliers. In addition to this seemingly boundless choice, they also have access to a wealth of reviews, recommendations, and UGC. Although technology has certainly aided many company’s marketing efforts, it is also responsible for intensified competition in every sector.
However, content does not only present challenges – it also creates opportunities. As a potential customer navigates their way towards a purchase, they generate an incredible amount of data. Within this data are a vast volume of valuable insights, which give businesses a window into customer behavior. However, when collecting this intelligence, sales teams need to be wary of ‘getting lost in data’. Therefore, it is essential to develop a robust data governance strategy to ensure personnel can extract actionable intelligence efficiently. Furthermore, sales executives should ensure their team is well-acquainted with data processing software.
3. Fragmented departments
Lack of communication between departments is a problem that plagues large corporations. For example, the sales and marketing departments are very much co-dependent. However, in many corporate structures, the lines of communication between the two will be poor. As a result, this leads to suboptimal sales efforts. A truly streamlined, successful organization will ensure that all departments are synchronized. Sales executives should ensure they maintain clear communication with marketers to make sure they deliver the most effective content.
4. Poorly designed sales training
Despite the effectiveness of high-level sales training programs, it is incredible how many companies continue to deliver them poorly. In order to make sure that reps are producing the best possible pitches, it is the responsibility of the sales executive to coach them effectively. This means investing time, care, and resources in training programs and selecting a framework relevant to corporate strategy. For instance, when choosing a training program, make sure that the content is proven to have value.
From here, the sales executive needs to make sure the reps know the product inside out. Often, excess product diversity can cause sales processes to be inconsistent. This might not only impede the efficiency of the department, but also can compromise the sales goals. In order to make sure sales processes are consistent and effective, sales executives should devise an evidence-based conversion strategy. Through effective planning and coaching, managers can ensure their team’s output is optimized.
5. High staff turnover
While the responsibility for retaining staff ultimately lies with senior management, rep retention is a challenge that every sales executive has to face. This is because teams with high turnover tend to perform poorly – which often means that sales executives are missing their targets. As a result, the sales executive will take the brunt of the pressure from those higher in the corporate hierarchy. To address the problem, companies need to create incentive schemes and performance-driven company culture. With this motivation, employee productivity will increase in tandem with loyalty.
Become a solutions-oriented sales executive
Often, the best way to approach a challenge is to deploy a solutions-oriented strategy. Instead of focussing on the problems, define solutions. This is achieved by viewing each obstacle as a sequence of tasks and objectives, as opposed to one intimidating monolith. For instance, when considering how to manage budget cuts, a sales executive should analyze what purchases customers are making. From here on, they should outline how they can encourage consumers to consider an alternative, such as aggressive pricing, financing options, or deferred payments.
Sales executives should push themselves to explore alternative methodologies that increase the efficiency of conversion. These solutions should be tabled at meetings and shared with every team member, no matter their level. Furthermore, managers strive to include other team members in the development of solutions and strategy. Through this approach, sales executives can cultivate a transparent and generous approach to strategy, which will motivate and streamline their team. Through a solutions-oriented approach to sales, executives can seek to better justify the return on their investments.