Weaknesses in sales

Purchasing behavior has changed significantly in recent years. Customers are increasingly able to define their business problems and requirements in the procurement process themselves and also carry out an initial supplier selection. Thanks to the internet and social media, there is now great transparency about products, prices and suppliers (including their ratings).

 
 

What customers expect from sales?

Many potential customers therefore only approach suppliers late in the purchasing process. They expect them to offer clear added value and a solution approach that is tailored to their needs, rather than a pure product/feature sale.

Many customers are risk-averse and demand very quick offers or responses to their inquiries from suppliers. They are also increasingly demanding references, guarantees and proof of their capabilities. A lot has also changed in the procurement process. More and more people are involved, usually up to seven. This makes the process more complex and slower than before.

"The number of people involved in the procurement process for complex products and services has increased to over seven in recent years."

All of this poses an ever-increasing challenge for sales employees and reveals existing weaknesses in sales. In the course of our consultations and training courses, we repeatedly come across similar challenges and weaknesses in sales. We have summarized the most common ones here:

01 Lack of knowledge about customer problems

77% of salespeople don’t understand their customers’ business problems. According to a study by Forrester, 77% of sales employees do not understand the business problems of their customers. As a result, they are unable to offer customized, innovative solutions that customers may need and expect.

02 Lack of preparation

Very often, the routine and lack of time associated with day-to-day sales stand in the way of comprehensive preparation. It is essential to analyze the customer, the company and its potential problems as precisely as possible in advance. Here, it is worth asking whether the obstacle is actually the lack of time or whether a different prioritization could lead to new paths towards solid preparation.

03 Selling products instead of Solutions

We often hear the following sentence: “I present or sell products, not solutions.” Salespeople emphasize their high level of product and product application expertise. However, this alone will no longer be enough in the future market environment.

Salespeople must have an interest in their customers and their problems, be able to analyze these problems and demonstrate the measurable customer benefits of their solution. This also requires business knowledge, knowledge of processes and knowledge of solution selling.

04 Wrong Contact (person) Decision processes are not questioned

The trump card in sales is to know what stage the customer is at in the buying process and what the subsequent decision-making process will look like. Questions could be as follows:

Sales employees often lack the necessary skills to conduct a competent and professional discussion with contacts at a higher hierarchical level, to convince them and to successfully negotiate the deal with them.

05 No common purchasing vision

Decision-makers repeatedly report that many salespeople fail to formulate a benefit-oriented buying vision with measurable added value. The reason usually given is that salespeople focus too much on their own products and services and cannot really “put themselves in the customer’s shoes”.

The result is that the salesperson is unable to sketch a picture of how the customer can solve their future business challenges better, faster, more efficiently, more securely, more cheaply, etc. with the respective products.

06 Lack of social media use

On average, salespeople are only contacted for the first time after more than 50% of the time required for a procurement process. The classic “face-to-face” time is becoming less and less. A lot is shifting to social media: the first contact, building a customer relationship, recommendations and much more – also known as “social selling” in technical jargon.

Your customers now spend a lot of time online and on social media platforms to find out more, exchange information and compare suppliers.
Social media channels are becoming increasingly popular in sales and offer enormous advantages. Not only a high reach, but also a precise target group selection makes it possible to reach the right contacts with interesting and useful information.

Of course, this takes some time and effort to prepare. You have to make sure that your own social media profile is up to date and it is only possible to design a targeted social media strategy if you know which social media channels your potential target customers use. This also includes thinking about when to address whom, with which messages and on which channels.

One basic rule is important for the messages: no advertising, but valuable, benefit-oriented content! Of course, it is also important to measure the response to the postings in order to optimize them.

In the future, social media will have to have a much greater influence on sales activities than it has in the past.

Conclusion

More and more companies are realigning their sales activities and reacting quickly to changes in buyer behavior. The individual challenges are not always the same. And yet there are similar screws with which positive changes can be achieved through careful turning.

What challenges do you face in your day-to-day sales work? We look forward to your comments or a virtual conversation!

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