The panel discussed many challenges, but we broke it down to the 3 most prevalent:
1. Truly Understanding Your Customer (Need Alignment)
As a sales rep or manager, how well do you know your customer? Jeff Upheus, SVP and Head of Business at Cbeyond revealed the first major sales challenge as “Keeping relevant and trying to understand your customer better.”
As a consumer and decision maker in his company, one of his biggest pet peeves is being approached by sales people who don’t understand his pain points; what keeps him up at night.
“If they call me up and say, “Hey Jeff, I’d love to talk to you and figure out what types of products and services we have that are going to be most beneficial for your business,” then I’m just like, “Hold on, stop. If you’re calling me, you already know my phone number. It means you know that we’re public. It means you should’ve been reading our 10K, and you should understand what our business challenges are. You should have called me and said, “Hey, you know what? I know that there’s a big challenge and I’m trying to understand a little bit about how you’re going to overcome it. I think that we have a solution that might be able to help you, but I’d love to understand your perspective on it.”
Sales teams need to spend time researching their potential customers so they know when there’s alignment between the prospect’s needs and what the company offers.
Kyle Porter, CEO of Salesloft added in agreement, “I love that concept of hypotheses. Someone researches you, understands your business, understands the challenges, makes a hypotheses about your need, and makes an assumption that – even if they’re wrong, you’re going to say – well, here’s why you’re wrong and let’s have a business discussion.”
2. Decreasing Average Tenure Of Sales Reps
In Atlanta, another common theme was the decreasing average tenure of sales reps, and the challenges that come with that. Sales Trainer and author, Kelley Robertson addresses how to effectively interact with reps of any age. In a blog post, he wrote, “Veterans often believe that young sales reps are inexperienced and have to pay their dues; the same way the vets did. Young sales reps often view the seasoned reps as outdated and unable to adapt to the changes in the marketplace.”
Porter pointed out how sales reps are getting younger. “I think we have a long road ahead for coaching young sales people. Just because they have the tools doesn’t mean that they have the capability and I think that having great training programs in place, having great coaching, leadership, I think that’s a big challenge for us in sales going forward.”
“I love to see that younger folks are deciding to take on sales as an option,” he said. “You have to have to have passion, be a sponge.”
Eran Gil, EVP Sales and Business Development at Salesfusion calls out Gen Y for their sense of entitlement, but says it’s an okay problem to have. “Generation Y is very entitled. I get on a call and I’m expecting someone to buy something from me because that’s how I was raised. I was raised to get what I want. And so that’s a little bit of a problem, a challenge, but it is something that you can work with. They are hungry, they are excited and they do make a lot of money, which is what we honestly want in young sales people.”
3. Information Overload
The group also discussed the information overload – from both sides. Not only do sales reps have loads of data available to them, but their customers do as well. It’s been noted that some customers are as far as 90% through the buying process when they talk to sales according to Gartner.
“The consumer also has a lot of knowledge, so by the time they get to you, you actually are selling against a lot of the information that they already have. So it’s a pretty big challenge when you get on the call and somebody already has everything he needs to know about you and the competitors. You know you have to differentiate yourself. And the other thing is time, so you really don’t have the time that you used to have. No one really gives you 45 minutes for sales call,” said Gil.
You can watch the full panel discussion here:
Weigh in. Do you agree with these challenges? What are the top 3 challenges your sales team is faced with? Let us know in the comments section, or send us a Tweet to @getbase.
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