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Solving Complex Sales Challenges

Sales Challenges Top Five

September 7, 2023

For those of you who think that automated marketing, chatbots and call centers are a replacement for good old-fashioned face-to-face sales, I’ve got news for you!

Outbound sales is still alive and well, with field sales representatives making up for 71.2% of the sales force. (Source: Spotio) This is especially true for the complex B2B and emerging businesses within the startup space.

Salespeople have been trained for years that sales is a linear process. Start here, do this, then that, then go here, to get there. Bing-bang-boom! Sorry to burst your bubble, but selling has become more Rubik’s Cube then Connect-4.

A strategy to solving the Rubik’s Cube of sales is to;

  1. Identify ALL the players
  2. Understand How to WIN
  3. Know Why You LOSE
  4. PLAN Each Move
  5. Find a GUIDE

1. Identify ALL the Players

Buyers can be difficult to identify at times. They are the budget builders and are ultimately accountable for business outcomes. The biggest mistake that can impact a sale is when an influencer is mistaken for the buyer. Beware, buyers aren’t always the person with the authority to spend the budget or the leaders of an initiative yet hover a tier higher and empower others to initiate their vision. Depending on the size of the organization, these positions are highly guarded and often require the assistance of an internal advocate (amongst the influencers) to access.

Influencers on the other hand are usually easier to find. Influencers contribute to the decision-making process and are responsible for elements of an initiative or the department where the project lives. There could be hidden influencers everywhere! Knowing your industry inside and out will help ensure that you cover all of your bases.

The impacted user is often forgotten about or overlooked. End users are the ones on the receiving end of business decisions. Watch out, they can sway opinions or perceptions of a product or service which could affect post-sale satisfaction and hurt retention.

2. Understand How to WIN

Products and services are designed to solve a particular business problem or fill a gap in the marketplace. Most industries have at least one competitor and also many competitive advantages to leverage. Discover the comparison criteria being used in a competitive situation, including any past experiences with purchasing similar products or services. Allow the customer to reveal their needs naturally through intentional questions and avoid teaching or preaching while in discovery mode.

3. Know Why You LOSE

No one likes to lose. Unfortunately, it is inevitable. Determine your differentiators and address (internally and externally) where there is room to grow. Don’t avoid getting into hard conversations with customers. They will appreciate your transparency. Remember, not all business is good business and sometimes your customer will be better served by another — and that is OK. Preparing yourself emotionally for the highs and lows of sales is paramount. Be diligent and humble in applying the lessons learned to your next opportunity.

4. PLAN Each Move

It would be wonderful if every scenario played out the same way, but that isn’t always the case. While each company has their own unique buying process, most don’t stray too far from typical. Calendarize as many of the milestones as possible. Think of milestones like sales stages, recognizing that some stages are more involved than others. Share points of progress with your customer and be respectful with your persistence. Every time that you follow through on a promise, you gain more trust and credibility.

5. Find a GUIDE

The intricacies of why a customer decides to buy aren’t likely to live on the world-wide-web. You’ll need an internal advocate to serve as your guide. A salesperson can only take a deal so far. Having someone champion your offerings internally is where the magic happens. Champions have access to the buyer and passport with multiple influencers/users.

I’ll leave you with a shocking statistic. In a buyer’s report conducted by Blender, 82% of decision makers feel their sales representative was unprepared. With that high of a percentage, it appears that almost every sales producer could benefit from revisiting their sales process and approach from time to time.

Register now for this Top Five series event on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 9 a.m.

For more information on the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Top Five series, visit the Business Resources page. While there, be sure to register for the next Top Five series.

Jennifer Simpson

Jennifer Simpson, Founder of Simpson Sales Solutions, is a 20-year quota crushing sales producer with decades of been-there-done-that experience and let's-not-do-that-again life lessons to share. Jennifer's media and marketing experience helps emerging entrepreneurs, corporate gamechangers and sales leaders remove revenue roadblocks, cut sales sludge and mitigate marketing misfires.