A new study shows that many of the sales challenges of four years ago remain today

As a planet, we’ve all aged about 150 years in the last three, due to you-know-what. But today, the challenges that plague sales companies remain much the same, with a few new ones thrown in for fun, according to Erica Schultz, chief marketing officer of RAIN Group.

Here are some stats from this latest report by RAIN, according to a majority of sales leaders surveyed: 

  • Sales cycle times have increased in the last year. 
  • The percentage of opportunities lost to no decision has increased.
  • The percentage of opportunities lost to competitors has decreased.

According to the report, sales leaders reported the top sales challenges today as:

  • Recruiting and hiring (52 percent of sales leaders cited this issue)
  • The uncertain economic climate (43 percent)
  • Generating qualified leads, quantitatively and qualitatively (40 percent)
  • Developing sales skills, e.g., winning sales opportunities, driving account growth, and consultative selling (33 percent)
  • Training up sales managers (32 percent)

Managing virtual and hybrid teams was cited as a challenge as well, but much less so than the others listed, demonstrating that many sales leaders are excelling at adapting to these new work environments.

“The good news is that sales and enablement leaders can overcome the challenges and achieve their priorities, even in an uncertain economy,” Schultz told CRM Magazine. “If your sales organization can develop a strong sales enablement program focused on three strategies and track key metrics, you should achieve sales success.”

The three strategies Schultz refers to are: 

  1. Focus on productivity habits in the workforce. Rather than focusing on technology or process, the report explains, it is the development of specific productivity habits that bring the most success to sales teams; so much so that the report states organizations could increase their sales productivity by 46 percent without hiring additional staff.
  2. Give sellers the skills to change seller behavior and habits. Too many organizations choose skills to develop in their sales force arbitrarily, the report states. 
  3. Invest in excellent sales managers. Sales managers make or break teams with their ability to retain sellers and coach them to victory. RAIN reports that sellers are 63 percent more likely to perform at the top when they have a good sales manager in their corner who supports and mentors them consistently.

Everything old really is new again (baggy jeans are back!?). But now, at least some of us get to lose sales due to indecision, have difficulty retaining staff, and suffer through pointless skills seminars from the comfort of our homes! And that’s progress…. right?

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