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Bugbears of a Sales Person

Bugbears of a Sales Person

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Bugbears of a Sales Person

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  1. Sales in 2015 and beyond ISSUES, CHALLENGES AND BARRIERS TO SUCCESS A research guide into the bugbears of a salesperson An eBook by

  2. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success What Unfortunately, the answer is not a simple one. The frustrations, obstacles, and niggles that plague the modern salesperson are diverse, and more often than not they’re unavoidable. Of course, in order to confront the challenges facing salespeople, it’s essential to understand what these challenges are and how they lead to sub-optimal performance and revenues. In this report, we’ll offer insights into the banes, burdens and bugbears salespeople face on a day-to-day basis. The findings are presented in this eBook, and should prove a valuable resource for any business leader looking to correct deficiencies, boost sales, and improve customer relationships. really bothers salespeople? Why aren’t they winning more business? What’s keeping them from selling more? First, it’s important to recognize that no two sales teams are alike, as the sales profession spans multiple industries and sectors, and the issues each organization faces vary according to factors such as the economic health of its market, its budget for additional staff members, and its overall technological aptitude. We’ve done some research, surveying 283 sales pros from the UK and the US, and have identified the challenges commonly faced by professionals across organizations of different sizes, in different areas, and in different trades. 1 www.sales-i.com

  3. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success 1. THE SALESPEOPLE So, who did we speak to? What is the size of your company? Respondents are primarily based in North America (62.9%) and the United Kingdom (35.0%). However, within this scope was a range of companies of different sizes, operating within different industries. Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) were well-represented, with 44.9% of respondent companies having under fifty employees, while organizations with over 250 members of staff amounted to 30% of those surveyed. The ‘middle’ groups, with 51-100 employees and 101-250 employees, amounted to 13.8% and 11.3% respectively. 62.9% USA/Canada 44.9% Less than 50 people 35.0% UK 13.8% 51 - 100 2.1% Rest of the world 11.3% 101 - 250 30.0%250+ 2 www.sales-i.com

  4. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success Which The 283 surveyed individuals, working for an eclectic variety of businesses, provide a more than sufficiently diverse foundation for the remainder of this report. With this range of salespeople to draw on – from large corporations to tiny startups, from builders and car manufacturers to office suppliers and food companies – we have a far greater idea of the challenges facing the profession as a whole. Industrial Building Automotive industry does your company operate in? Jan/San Food & drink Office 17.7% Automotive 19.4% Building & construction 9.5% Food & drink 11.0% Jan/San 8.1% Office supplies 34.3% Industrial supplies 3 www.sales-i.com

  5. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success 2. THEIR BIGGEST DAY- TO-DAY CHALLENGES Sales professionals face a number of challenges on a day to-day basis, both in customer-facing and internal capacities. Often, it seems like the job requires employees to be in several places at once, and the resulting pressure can be overwhelming for them and detrimental to the company’s revenue. Falling sales Preparation Sales reports Upselling Visibility So, what do sales professionals worry about the most before they get out of bed each morning? What is your biggest daily challenge? 49.5% Understanding which customers are falling in sales and new opportunities 6.4% Preparing for meetings 4.6% Compiling sales reports 23.0% Upselling to existing customers 16.6% Having visibility into what my sales team is doing 4 www.sales-i.com

  6. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success Are Admin Finding opportunities General administrative tasks posed a problem for a (not so insignificant) minority: 4.6% listed ‘compiling sales reports’ as their biggest challenge, while 6.4% claimed ‘preparing for meetings’ was theirs. These are tasks quite separate from the meat and potatoes of selling, so it’s understandable that professionals might balk at them: they’re time consuming, mentally draining, and don’t seem to have any direct correlation with increasing revenue. Still, this wasn’t the biggest challenge facing our survey respondents. 49.5% of respondents said their main problem was understanding which customers were falling in sales and identifying new opportunities, while 23% were troubled by upselling to existing customers. there any other challenges that salespeople face? These have long been issues for salespeople. While the traits commonly thought of as essential to success in this profession are still important, all the personal charm in the world won’t keep a neglected customer from going elsewhere – and it won’t unearth new leads or business opportunities on its own. Equally, in order to upsell a product to a regular customer, it is necessary to convince them that they need it, but some part of them must need it in the first place. Visibility Many professionals also found transparency to be a key issue. 16.6% said that visibility into the activities of the sales team was their most significant daily challenge. Without insight into the way staff members are dividing their labor, there’s no means by which to understand their inefficiencies, productivity (or lack thereof) or areas for improvement. Often the result of this is, at best, a stagnant sales team and at worst, one in active decline. Sales is often a delicate balance and, if nothing else, our survey respondents have demonstrated how difficult it is to get right. 5 www.sales-i.com

  7. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success What Automate admin Automate admin by using technology. Get rid of time consuming routine tasks in favor of high-value, customer- facing work. should you and your team do about it? Track activity Use analytics tools to track and measure employee activity. This will provide greater visibility into how your sales team is spending their time, and will highlight areas in which productivity may be down. Track activity Use customer data to your advantage. Analytics can identify buying patterns and trends. Understand what your customers want before they even know they need it. 6 www.sales-i.com

  8. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success 3. OPERATIONAL HEADACHES Not all of the difficulties contemporary salespeople face are so dramatic. While most professionals can easily identify an issue with lead generation or upselling, problems with process are often of equal significance – collectively, if not on their own. Data entry Some of these seem like necessary administrative evils. For example, 17.3% identified issues with manual data entry, which will have some crossover with the 9.5% who found trouble with using Excel for reporting and analysis. With technological solutions widely available, it is not even necessary to have administrative assistants doing this work, let alone dedicated sales professionals: their energies should be concentrated on tasks more relevant to increasing the company’s bottom line. Frequently, it’s the smaller operational tasks that cause the most delay and preclude them from superior performance. On their own, they might seem mildly annoying; cumulatively, they can have a drastic impact on profits and workplace productivity. Accessing information 17.3% Manual data entry But the biggest complications by far are all to do with a lack of information. Whether you’re hawking beauty products door-to-door or sealing big B2B deals, sales was, is, and always will be a mobile profession, and to get the best results, consultants can’t go in blind. With this in mind, it’s understandable that 11.3% have trouble when they can’t access information outside of the office. 9.5% Using Excel for sales reporting and analysis 28.3% Too much information stored across different systems 11.3% Furthermore, 33.6% indicated that their main problem was acquiring timely information to use while selling which can be borderline crippling for a business’ profit margins. But even when information is accessible, a lack of consolidation means that 28.3% are wasting time attempting to retrieve it from different formats simply because the organization knows no other way. Accessing information when I’m out of the office 33.6% Getting hold of timely information to use when selling 7 www.sales-i.com

  9. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success What Remove manual processes Ditch manual entry. Invest in technological solutions and save hundreds of man-hours. That’s hundreds more hours of selling time. should you and your team do about it? Use one system Cut down on unnecessary processes by using a single platform to access all your customer information. 8 www.sales-i.com

  10. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success 4. MAKING DECISIONS If you’re a business owner with a sales team, you’ll know all too well how willing they are to take credit for success. Every deal signed is the result of a moment of Ricky Roma style brilliance; every dollar or pound earned is one earned by their sheer bravado, intelligence, and determination. Gut instinct Manually Technology Relationships Naturally, when it comes to underperformance, they’re a little bit quieter. Nevertheless, it would be pointless to pretend that the problems plaguing sales teams have nothing to do with the sales teams themselves, so it’s worth taking a quick look at their decision-making processes. 6.0% I go with my gut 13.8% I manually sort through customer data to find the information I need 39.9% I use technology to analyze data which informs my decisions 40.0% Based on the relationships I have with customers 9 www.sales-i.com

  11. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success What Of those surveyed, 40% said they made decisions based on the relationships they have with customers. This is very understandable, but hardly quantifiable. The importance of solid rapport shouldn’t be understated, but it’s also important to acknowledge that it isn’t everything. If it’s not being measured, it’s not a reliable indicator of anything other than how much a sales professional gets on with a particular customer. Don’t use your gut Make decisions based on data and facts, not your gut even if you ‘feel’ that it’s not correct. should you and your team do about it? This trend of using unverifiable information to make major decisions is also widespread – and even worse – with the 6% who said they make decisions with ‘their gut.’ Again, instinct is important, it’s just highly unlikely to make money on its own on a long-term basis. A ‘feeling’ should be checked against evidence and data before it is acted on. Thankfully, there is some indication that, in other quarters, sales professionals are wising up somewhat. 39.9% claim to use technology for the purpose of data analysis and decision making, while a further 13.8% manually sort through data to find the information they need – an inefficient approach, and one liable to fall prey to the old ‘correlation = causation’ fallacy, but a (very tiny) step in the right direction nonetheless. 10 www.sales-i.com

  12. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success 5. RISING TO THE CHALLENGE There are ways to remove the administrative burden entirely and enable sales professionals to pursue the business of actual selling. There are ways to, if not quite read a customer’s mind, at least predict their movements with eerie and profit-boosting accuracy. “The biggest challenge? Taking the leap in the first place.” There are ways to take that mass of marketing data and turn it into actionable trends and insights. There are ways to ensure you will never turn up unprepared for a client meeting or customer call ever again. This is the promise of sales intelligence technology. By leveraging the power of big data analytics, it supplies the people most important to your company’s success with the tools they need to guarantee it. 11 www.sales-i.com

  13. Sales in 2015 and beyond: issues, challenges and barriers to success About We are the leader in sales performance for distributors and wholesalers. “It is a no brainer for distributors, and the personal service is outstanding.” - Scott Bennett, Bennett Auto Supply “One call using sales-i yielded a $5,000 order from an account that was leaving us for a competitor, he felt we did not care, sales-i showed him we did.” sales-i is sales performance software designed to make every sales call more personal and profitable. sales-i enables sales professionals to clearly identify and target high quality sales opportunities within their current customer base. Equipped with customer buying behavior alerts, salespeople can make insightful, personalized, quick business decisions, realizing repeat sales, reduced customer attrition and maximized profit margins as a result. - Ron Dahlhaus, Prostock Automotive “We’ve closed off the financial year 58% up on the previous year and attribute this directly to sales-i and their sales performance software.” sales-i will change the way you sell. Get in touch for a free, online demonstration and judge our software for yourself. - Larry Sexton, Office 360º tellmemore@sales-i.com www.sales-i.com