The role of a sales rep is ever-changing, which makes the job as demanding as it is exciting. As with any other type of position, there are challenges that come with the territory. Identifying the top challenges in B2B sales is important in order to improve upon the sales approach and maintain high sales performance. Many of these common hurdles may ring true for you. Learn more about what it takes to overcome them.
Undefined Sales Process
A structured B2B sales process is crucial to the success of any sales team. If this remains undefined or ineffective altogether, it diminishes any other effort that follows.
Although each sales rep brings their own set of skills, experience, and expertise, collectively, everyone must be aligned and follow a proven process. A simplified example of a B2B sales process includes:
- Identifying prospects and qualifying
- Understanding needs, challenges, and requirements
- Presenting a solution
- Closing the deal
- Mining further business opportunities within the account
The sales process is the foundation upon which everything else is built. Refining each of these areas with ongoing sales coaching allows teams to sell more effectively. It reinforces skills learned during sales training with regards to the strategies presented.
To refine the B2B sales process, go back to the basics. Ensure your sales playbook is mapped out clearly for every member of your team. Walk through the different steps and decide together if any area needs updates or improvements. Then, schedule sales training or sales coaching as needed to learn new tactics and sustain positive behavioral changes.
Lack of Content
If you’re beginning from square one when explaining what you have to offer, making new connections with prospects is difficult. Lack of brand visibility and thought leadership puts you behind competitors and is not as encouraging to businesses you want to convert into new customers. The challenge is two-fold: lack of digital marketing content and failure to deliver content to the appropriate audience.
The solution is working with your marketing team and other departments within your organization to complement your sales strategy. One of the main questions you should ask yourself is: Does my product/service help our customers overcome a specific challenge? Together, create content that provides solutions to prospects’ pain points and that offers value through tips, best practices, and other industry insights.
Also, differentiate between what’s beneficial as demand gen vs lead gen content. Potential buyers first entering the sales cycle want to gather information in a nonpressured way. Their time to buy may be months down the road. Implementing content marketing strategies like posting blogs and running social media campaigns are ways to gain greater visibility for your products or services and become a sales leader within the industry.
This is different when it comes to the type of digital marketing content that fits into the lead generation category. This typically includes whitepapers, webinars, and other types of gated content that helps you gather lead qualifying information about potential buyers. Lead generation content is for people who have already researched your business and are familiar with your product or service offering. It provides them useful information and evidence of how your solutions have worked for similar customers in the past.
Prolonged Sales Cycle
The average B2B buying cycle is often longer than B2C sales. Often, this is due to the fact there are several decision makers and more complex deals. A prospect can sit in the top part of the sales funnel for several months before advancing to the next stage. This requires finding a balance between moving potential buyers along the sales cycle without coming across as pushy.
Once you have contact information and have engaged in initial communication, you can begin delivering relevant content that provides solutions to their specific challenges.
It’s about building trust, creating long-term relationships, and nurturing. When it’s determined that the lead is qualified but not ready to buy, set up marketing automation tools to communicate every few weeks or months on behalf of your sales reps. This is an efficient way to connect with a prospect who is not yet ready to buy while your sales reps can focus on leads and accounts that are further along in the sales process.
One of the top challenges in B2B sales is overcomplicating the sales pitch with too much data. It can lead to wasted time, money, and resources. Although a content marketing strategy effectively maintains interest, decision-makers often become overwhelmed with the amount of data and features presented.
When added to the level or amount of technology that must be learned, as well as the number of competitors you’re contending with, it can cause a prospect to be overtaken by analysis paralysis. In many B2B sales scenarios, too many options and overly complex solutions cause businesses to become weighed down with information, bringing the sales cycle to a halt.
The solution is to make buying simpler. Pare down your top value propositions and repeat the benefits of each. Furthermore, a sales leader should listen to each buyer’s specific pain points and customize communications accordingly. Rather than overwhelm prospects with a deluge of data, hone in on what kind of analytics and information they’d like to see.
Lack of Customer Confidence
Another big challenge of B2B sales is overcoming a lack of customer confidence. When compared to B2C sales, the investment is often much lower than what a potential buyer is considering for their business. Changing from what they’re currently using and trying something new can be a big and complex transition.
Also, there’s a heftier monetary investment and a changing investment that can create a cause for pause. It’s crucial to provide valuable information that resonates with prospects in a way that’s digestible and easy to understand. Most businesses want to see evidential proof that the solution you’re selling has worked for others in similar positions as theirs.
To overcome this challenge, your sales and marketing team must consistently communicate value. This is often achieved through case studies, testimonials, and other success markers that will help alleviate their concern about moving forward. Create case studies that succinctly outline problems, solutions, and results your company delivered for others in profitable ways.
Poor Customer Retention or Expansion
Building a strong pipeline of qualified leads is a key sales team goal. However, there should be an equal effort in retaining current customers as well. It takes more time, money, and effort to acquire a new customer than retain a current one, since you’ve already gone through the steps to make the sale.
Appoint experienced sales reps to the role of account management specifically. This will help create a deeper connection to your existing client base. In addition to keeping clients happy, it helps to uncover new opportunities based on customer growth and changing needs.
If customer retention is an area your sales team struggles with, identify why businesses are leaving and what can be done to persuade them to stay. Although not every reason is due to unhappiness with the account, gathering this feedback is helpful as you create retention strategies.
Many business executives say they’d rather stick with businesses they are familiar with than make a switch, due to the increased risk and investment. When you focus on customer retention, it establishes loyalty, creates stronger customer relationships, and ultimately allows you to better predict revenue.
The digital age has fast-forwarded the way everyone conducts business. Without taking advantage of technology, it delays results through inefficiencies. For example, there are plenty of tools that help make sales teams’ jobs easier and streamline processes to overcome B2B sales challenges. From CRM systems to cloud technology, to data analytics tools, content management, and sales automation software, finding the right programs for your organization is one of the keys to maintaining a successful sales operation.
It’s best to embrace new sales enablement tools and applications and practice using virtual communication platforms and other technology-driven solutions. As remote working increases in popularity, knowing best practices when it comes to technology is critical to reach new prospects for sales teams.
Lack of Training
Unfortunately, poorly trained sales professionals can derail the entire deal. Even if there’s a solid B2B sales process in place, there can be difficulties when training isn’t part of the solution.
Scheduled training can make a positive impact on your sales team and establish long-term results. At Janek, we customize our sales training and sales coaching based on your company’s needs, group size, learning environment, and identify areas for improvement. We educate you on the tools, techniques, and strategies available to overcome these top challenges in B2B sales, so your sales team can win more often.