What were the top 13 sales issues for businesses in 2014?

What were the top 13 sales issues for businesses in 2014?

As we get close to our celebration of 20 years in business at Barrett, we thought we would share with you the most common and critical sales problems that are affecting sales teams large and small, across all sorts of markets and industries in 2014.

Here they are:

  1. Businesses not making sales quota overall
  2. Not enough salespeople making quota
  3. Win/lose ratio unacceptably low
  4. Deals taking too long to close
  5. Leads/sales ratio too low
  6. Not getting enough client meetings
  7. Margins being squeezed
  8. Chasing poorly qualified leads
  9. Not engaging with decision-makers
  10. Salespeople not able to engage effectively at C level
  11. Salespeople not understanding the client’s perspective
  12. Too much discounting
  13. Losing deals on price

The list contents may come as no surprise to many CEOs, sales leaders and salespeople alike, as many of these issues have been plaguing sales teams for years. What’s new?

This was further reinforced in the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 November 2014 with Michael Pascoe’s article ‘Acceptable mediocrity: Australian sales forces playing desperate catch up’.

“Compared with 2012, fewer selling opportunities that enter the pipeline are making it to completion. Sales reps are finding their jobs more difficult… What’s more, many of the 172 CEOs surveyed for the index (2014 RPMG Revenue Performance Index) seem to be resigned to having an underperforming sales force.

One anonymous CEO summed up the sales and marketing division as “acceptable mediocrity”.

Despite CEOs having all manner of improved sales performance aspirations, the survey found:

  • 68% of CEOs said their organisations either missed or would miss its current year target, with the average shortfall 12%
  • Nonetheless, 94% of CEOs were targeting sales growth for the next year of an average 23%
  • But 67% said they were not confident of hitting the new target
  • 18% said outright they would not make it.
  • 58 % of sales reps either missed or were missing their current year quotas and 27% of them missing by more than 20%.
  • There has been a 12.5% decline in pipeline conversion over the past two years, from 2.4% to 2.1%.
  • That decline is part of a longer-term trend – the pipeline conversion rate has fallen 43% from 3.7% in 2005-06.

And even with all the hype and advances in technology – think social selling, CRM, etc – technology will NOT save the sales day either. Technology by itself will not make sales. People make sales.

Many of these issues are the result of poorly executed sales strategies and poorly trained sales teams. What’s new, again?

So don’t be like the majority and let these issues continue to affect and infect your sales team in 2015.

Step up and put in place the right stuff. Here are seven things you can do to improve your sales operations and performance now:

  1. Review and develop your sales strategy and go-to-market action plan
  2. Define an easily understood and relevant compelling reason for your prospects and clients to buy from you, rather than a rival
  3. Analyse your market segments and direct your sales team accordingly
  4. Audit your sales processes and protocols to make sure they are fit for purpose
  5. Review your key account management and customer service practices so they align with your value chain
  6. Assess and benchmark the knowledge, skills and mindset of your sales team to determine their current level of ‘sales fitness’ and their training needs for 2015
  7. Train and coach your sales managers and your sales people in 21st century selling practices and protocols

Remember, everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is founder and CEO of www.barrett.com.au and www.salesessentials.com and has written 21 e-books and 500+ articles on the world of 21st century selling.

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