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Top 5 Sales Issues to Focus on During Q3 and Q4 for a Prosperous 2017

by David Fletcher | Jul 13, 2016 3:00:00 PM

iStock_88944417_SMALL.jpgI know it’s hard to believe but we are already halfway through the calendar year! If you are like most sales organizations, the end of the second-quarter marks a huge benchmark for measuring your progress from the beginning of the year. This is when you begin to realize whether or not you are on track to hit your annual projections and goals.

If you’re on track to meet your numbers and your sales organization is running on all cylinders, save some time and move on to the next blog! However, if you’re like most B2B sales organizations today, you have a few problem areas that you need to address.

Here are the top five sales issues that can be addressed over the next six months to help set your organization into motion to meet those goals.

1. According to research done by CSO Insights, 42% of sales representatives do not hit their quota.

Can you believe it? That’s almost half of the sales team not meeting their numbers. If your team is in a similar situation, it may not be the sales reps’ fault. Missing sales goals and quotas are the symptom of a number of potential problems.

The key here is to look into where opportunities have been lost in the sales process and begin to build a sales training program around those issues. I have found, not only with my team of sales development reps at Imagine but with my clients as well, many sales professionals today struggle with customer-focused selling skills. Far too often, sales teams are focused on meeting numbers that may not be the true driver of positive results. Having a more customer-focused sales team that is committed to following a process that includes customer discovery and diagnosis, will lead to more members of your team hitting their quota. But it begins and ends with a proper training program to address the weaknesses.

2. Turnover rates are through the roof with more than 10% of sales reps leaving their job every year! 

This is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. According to CSO insights, the ramp up time for new sales professionals at most B2B sales organizations is longer than six months. Six months!  So, do the math. If it takes six months to get your new All-Star up and running and he or she leaves within the first 18 months of employment, you are spending ½ of a year training to get one year of sales results.

The real question is, why do your sales professionals leave? Although many sales reps will say it revolves around compensation, benefits and quality of life, I believe there is a bigger issue. I have found in coaching thousands of sales professionals over the last 10 years that the better reps leave when the company does not make a commitment to quality training and coaching.

When we were coaching sales teams, our clients’ executive teams noticed they were getting higher rates of employee engagement, loyalty, and productivity. Make the proper investment into your people and you will find they will stay longer!

3. 26% of B2B sales organizations report their sales reps do not follow the established sales process.

I see this all of the time. We have clients that come to us and say they have taught their people the process but they’re still not following it and as a result, deals get lost. This is why we design, develop and provide our clients with a sales playbook.

Our sales playbooks have a documented process that includes everything from voice mail scripts, email templates, buyer personas, buying signs of each persona, known red flags, appropriate content to share within pipeline stages, and even a schedule that provides the sales rep with the necessary cadence to pursue prospects.

Far too often, executives feel that the process is documented and well understood by everyone involved but typically, it’s only the executives that fully understand it. Some of this can come back to a training issue or it’s as simple as better documentation. I strongly recommend you put a sales playbook together for your organization so your entire team can be clear on how you do business.

Let me leave you with this thought, CSO Insights reported that 68% of companies do not have a formal sales process, so you’re not alone if you’re reading this and thinking that your sales team doesn’t follow the process because YOU DON’T HAVE ONE! Start addressing that now!

4. CSO Insights recently said that research has shown less than 25% of sales organizations say they can align their solutions with customers’ needs and expectations.

What this says to me is that too many sales organizations are hyper-focused on selling and are not listening to their customers. Don’t get me wrong, we are all maniacally focused on sales. However, sales has changed dramatically over the last 10 years because of technology.

Sales teams have to be more focused on understanding their customers’ needs and what problem they are trying to solve. This means your team has to be good at listening, asking the right questions, understanding a customer’s goals, and then be able to deliver value that goes beyond the services or widget that you provide to the marketplace.

If you find yourself struggling with this issue, you should analyze your sales team to determine if their attitude, approach and beliefs focus on the customer’s needs. If they do not have the “always be helping” mentality, they will struggle in today’s highly competitive and technology enabled B2B sales world.

5. CSO Insights tells us that only 11% of sales professionals feel they have a “trusted advisor” relationship with their customers.

I have been talking about this for years in regards to “earning a seat at the table.” When you can provide your customers with the strategy and insights to help them solve a business problem, this is when you can begin to become a trusted adviser. But you have to have the business acumen to understand your customers’ businesses.

This is something that is hard to teach to young sales professionals. In all honesty, you have two options, to be a trusted adviser or simply be viewed as a vendor. Vendors do not get the respect because they’re not valued. They are the means to an end…nothing more than a sales rep that provides a widget or a service.

Your sales team should be focused on “earning a seat at the table” with your customers so that the relationship is more than just what you sell. Your company and your team will hold higher value because of it. Focus on becoming a trusted advisor for your customers by always looking out for their best interest, even if it doesn’t provide any revenue at that moment in time- it will, eventually! Again this comes back to the “always be helping” mentality.

Now that I’ve shared with you five of the top sales issues facing most B2B companies, this is your opportunity to review and analyze your sales organization. Which of these five apply to your team? I can assure you that you will find more than one of these five issues within your team. Whether it’s an organizational issue, a process issue, or the ever so popular training and development issue, begin addressing it now to ensure a prosperous 2017.