The Top 4 Selling Challenges

Peady’s Selling Engagement

I recently caught up with a sales manager friend of mine and he shared his thoughts on sales and selling in 2019 by saying “salespeople need to be more agile than ever before and have the ability to read the selling scenario to understand which sales skill is needed at that moment”. He added: “that agility then drives momentum.” 

I certainly agree with his comment. It’s challenging out there; and only the best prepared will succeed! These days customers are well informed, so using sales ‘trickery’ and old-fashioned ploys won’t work. Additionally, the time factor is always in play. People are busy.

Welcome to this week’s post on sales and selling success.

Some of the big challenges salespeople currently face

  1. Getting appointments with decision makers
  2. Dealing with the ROI question
  3. Creating an environment for change
  4. Becoming a trusted advisor

Let’s examine each one in detail.

Gaining appointments – Capturing a prospect’s attention is difficult. Internal and external priorities as well as shifting economic conditions compete for their time. Then once you get their attention talking to the right person (or people) to ensure a focus on the solution and a fast decision become a major priority.

One solution is to initiate conversations using a “hinge” – any issue that research shows is specific to the customer’s industry or company. In other words, something they see as important or valuable. Finding a “hinge” works because its simplified messaging is easy for a customer to absorb during a busy day.

ROI – The buzzword that won’t go away, most sales conversations seem to centre around it. But here’s the real challenge. Like most buzzwords its has morphed into something else. Originally ROI was all about the actual returns based on the investment (or cost), now ROI is code for price, and we all know the dangers of going there too early.

Sales is an emotional process. Once you start discussing price, cost, ROI you automatically switch on the customers logic processor and that’s when the conversation runs off the rails. Get clear on what the customer wants. Is it a price discussion or a real ROI discussion? Once you know that you can address it by talking about our old friend value!

Change – It’s more difficult than ever to build the case for change. Many customers have a deep, seemingly immovable anchor to the status quo. Many view change as a high-risk option and are overwhelmed by the process. If it aint broke don’t fix it is often the mantra.

Salespeople need to help the customer build an acceptable case for change. To do this you need to identify the elements of change within their business. Things like strategy, issues and challenges, desired outcomes, solution options, perceptions of value vs. risk and how they perceive differences between the proposed solution and the competitor’s offering. 
The trusted advisor – Probably the holy grail of selling; to become a trusted advisor to your customers. To be viewed as a source of valued advice and support. Becoming a trusted advisor doesn’t happen overnight – it’s earned and that takes time and consistent action.
The process starts before they become customers. At the prospecting stage. From there you must repeatedly demonstrate that you understand them, have their best interests at heart, are honest about what you can and cannot do and taking a long-term partnership position.
Note: To establish your trusted advisor status you’ve also got to show you have broader knowledge outside of your area of specialisation, of business in general and of the client’s business and industry specifically.
Are these the top sales challenges for you? Maybe discuss the subject at your next sales meeting and explore some solution using team feedback?
To wrap up here are some wise words from renowned sales strategist Jill Konrath “what differentiates sellers today is their ability to create fresh ideas and solutions”.
Until next week, good selling!
About the author 

Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.

He can be contacted at [email protected]