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Business leaders need to contend with countless situations and difficulties regarding their sales force. These problems are often more complicated than they seem and although there are challenges with every department, they are usually more apparent with sales departments, because the privileged position they often hold within the company.
The reasons are numerous and, they tend to add up. Moreover, in addition to the “traditional” sales problems that hinder performance, there is also the need to adapt to today’s ever-changing sales environment.
4 Problems and Their Causes
1. No Sales Force Structure
Business leaders often find that their sales force isn’t structured or consistent enough which limits their growth and expansion. Moreover, they lack visibility when it comes to future revenue.
The 5 Main Causes Are:
- No formal sales process.
- The sales funnel lacks management.
- The sales management team have little impact.
- The sales team has shortcomings and lack skills.
- Reps are unable to generate enough new opportunities to feed the pipeline.
2. Passive Sales Representatives
Business executives discuss the proactivity of their sales force when reps don’t take the initiative to feed the sales pipeline. They don’t make cold calls, ask clients for recommendations, etc.
Business leaders will often ask me questions about compensation when they see this problem. However, there can be several explanations.
The 5 Main Causes Are:
- Representatives’ low will to succeed in sales.
- Representatives don’t take responsibility for their actions and make excuses (they blame the company or the competition for their inaction or lack of success).
- Representatives’ lack of hunting and prospecting skills.
- The compensation plan doesn’t encourage prospecting.
- The compensation plan doesn’t correspond with the representatives’ types of motivation.
3. Longer Sales Cycles, and Insufficient Number of Closed Deals
It’s important to keep in mind when talking about a lengthening sales cycles that certain conditions in B2B sales have changed in recent years. Because of this new reality, the underlying problems have become more significant than before.
The 4 Main Causes Are:
- Reps give excuses, and senior management accepts them.
- There’s no formal sales process in place, or it isn’t optimized or followed.
- Sales management is inefficient and has no impact.
- Lack of consultative selling, qualifying, and closing skills.
4. Inefficient Sales Managers
Often, Sales Managers have been ineffective for a while and executives have tried to tackle this by themselves, without much success.
The issue is more complicated than it seems because the expectations of sales management are often unrealistic, or too high. While performance standards for salespeople are not high enough, the opposite is true for Sales Managers.
When evaluating the sales force, executives may find their Sales Managers’ results surprising. It so happens that their managers do have many of the skills and abilities required to deliver results (read more on the Roles and Responsibilities of Sales Managers).
What are the problems then?
- Managers don’t have the necessary tools to give results.
- Lack of organizational alignment.
The issues observed within a sales organization are the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, it’s possible to address the causes of underperformance, provided you give it the necessary time and energy.
In the current context, sales organizations — whether they like it or not — need to change to adapt to clients who are who are more informed and demanding than ever.