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7 Common Sales Problems and How to Overcome Them

No two sales teams are alike. Each has its own challenges, its own processes, and its own unique personnel. However, compile all of those unique problems together, and you start to notice some commonalities.

No sales team is completely devoid of problems – some may say they are, but it’s likely untrue. Constant improvement should be a cornerstone of any sales management style, and to jumpstart that improvement, you need to be cognizant of common problems facing sales teams.

Some problems can be solved with technology. Others require steadfast leadership. And some common sales problems require everyone on the team to pull together in the same direction. Here are seven of the most common sales problems you may encounter and what you can do to overcome them.

Cold Call Anxiety

Cold call anxiety is a very real problem among salespeople. It’s relatively common in sales development reps new to the industry, but even seasoned salespeople get cold call anxiety. For reps that face a lot of initial rejection, it’s understandable that they might feel a visceral kid of reticence at the idea of picking up the phone.

Overcoming cold call anxiety requires two proactive steps: 1) identifying and overcoming your hesitations, and 2) automating the call process. For the first step, try to pinpoint the exact sources of your hesitation – fear of rejection, unpreparedness, inability to follow the script, etc. – and address those hesitations head-on. Secondly, consider auto dialing software, which allows you to move easily and fluidly from one call to the next, without giving yourself the space to overthink and worry.

Hunt and Peck Prospecting

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“Hunt and peck” prospecting is when sales development reps (SDRs) are left to their own devices to choose their next prospect to contact. They scan their CRMs, make in-the-moment value judgments, and then manually call a prospect. Unfortunately, this method is too susceptible to human error.

Thankfully, it’s a problem that can easily be fixed with technology. A sales engagement platform that includes queue-based lead management takes the hunt-and-peck guesswork out of the equation by automatically routing the next best lead to SDRs. Rather than relying on their own judgment to pick prospects, the platform deploys result codes, disposition values, and customizable routing logic to continually present them the best course of action.

It’s one of many powerful features in a sales engagement platform; you can learn more at VanillaSoft about other features.

An Ineffective Follow-up Strategy

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Here’s another problem easily solved with a sales engagement platform: an ineffective follow-up strategy. Too often, leads are contacted once or twice, then left to slip through the cracks. Studies show that persistence and timing are very important to the sales process, so you must have an effective follow-up strategy.

How often a sales rep follows up when they follow up, and over what channels together form what’s called a “sales cadence”: a sequence of touchpoints optimized to close sales. You can automate this sales cadence with a sales engagement platform for greater control of the sales process.

Unsuccessful Objection Handling

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Handling objections is a critical skill for a salesperson. To hone that skill, you need to be able to anticipate common objections and have satisfactory responses at the ready. You can do this on the fly if you’re knowledgeable about common objections and adept at handling them, or you can do it by building out a better script.

“Logical branch scripting” certainly comes in handy here. This type of scripting allows salespeople to select responses based on the objections posed, rather than having to stick to a linear script that may never address those objections.

Unmet Activity Goals

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There are a few possible reasons your reps aren’t meeting their activity goals. One reason might be that your activity goals aren’t reasonable or manageable – they aren’t tied to real-world conversion rates and quotas. Another might be that you haven’t given them the proper tools to succeed, such as a sales engagement platform. And a third reason might be that you are diverting an undue amount of your sales reps’ time to numerous meetings instead of the phone.

Create clear, manageable activity goals. Give your sales reps the tools they need to meet those goals. And be mindful of the amount of time you’re asking them to spend away from the phone in a day.

Too Much Administrative Time, Not Enough Selling

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To synthesize much of what was said above: if your reps are spending more time on administrative tasks and keyboard activity than they are actually selling, you’ve got a problem on your hands. When Forbes asked 721 sales reps how they used their time, they found that an average of only 35% of a sales rep’s time was spent selling. The other 65%? Not selling.

Promoting good time management is a large part of running a successful sales team. Bumping that 35% figure up just a little will result in better quota-attainment and increased revenue. Using the sales engagement platform mentioned above, you can increase SDRs’ productivity without sacrificing the quality of their selling.

A Lack of Motivation

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Finally, if your sales team is facing a motivation problem, you have to step up and be a leader. If reps believe their goals are unattainable, they may shut down. If they believe they can’t possibly perform as well as your best team member, they may give up. If they are routinely criticized for failures without being celebrated for successes, they may lose interest.

Put in the time to assess the source of your team’s motivation problems and directly address it. There’s no magic bullet solution for improving motivation – just your human ability to inspire and encourage.

A sales team, like any team pulling toward a common goal, is going to encounter hurdles. Knowing what technologies to deploy, what leadership to show and what knowledge to convey will allow you to breeze past those hurdles. And if you do fumble, you’ll know how to get back up and keep running.

About Matt Durham