Every year the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP), releases its study, “Top Challenges of the Inside Sales Industry,” which polls both sales leaders and individual B2B sales representatives about common challenges. In part 1 of this blog post, we examine trends from the sales reps’ responses.
Keep reading for our look a the biggest challenges in sales and the steps a B2B sales representative can take to remedy these challenges.
1. Lead Quantity & Quality
Nearly half of individual B2B sales representatives say “Lead Quantity & Quality” is their top challenge. To circumvent issues with lead generation, sales leaders should consider the following:
From an inbound perspective, what types of programs can marketing implement to attract more leads? From an outbound perspective, does your sales development team have the ability to proactively find and connect with your buyer personas?
Does your sales and marketing team agree on the definition of a qualified lead?
2. Rules & Procedures
While looking at the year-over-year changes from this survey, one trend jumps off the page: “Rules & Procedures” jumped from the number 5 top-ranked challenge to number 2 over the last year.
A possible cause for this could be the nature of an inside sales model. To review, this approach silos resources between qualifying prospects (sales development professionals) and closing new business (account executives). More organizations have adopted this approach because it gives senior reps more time to focus on closing, rather than setting meetings. But the model requires more moving parts and thus can bring confusion and complexities for B2B sales representatives.
Regardless of your team’s structure, process is everything in sales – especially in terms of creating repeatable success. To prevent frustration with rules and procedures, sales leaders need to develop standard operating procedures that clearly outline each rep’s role.
3. Career Advancement & Compensation
First, the good news: B2B sales representatives don’t feel like “Rewards & Recognition” is an issue. The bad news? “Career Advancement” crept its way into the top 5, and “Compensation” inched up to number 7 after being ranked number 14 just two years ago.
This all goes back to employee retention. In sales, it’s difficult; the average tenure of a sales development professional is just 14.2 months (Source: TOPO, Best Practices for Managing the Sales Development Lifecycle). To deal with turnover, management should prioritize two initiatives:
Protect the sales engine with effective onboarding processes:
Ramp up time will always exist, but sales leaders must put effort into new-hire training so your B2B sales representatives can become fully productive and start hitting their goals.
Establish a clear career path for high-performing reps:
All reps aren’t created equal. If you’re a sales leader, do you have the right metrics in place to identify your best sales reps? Furthermore, do you have programs in place to retain your top talent?
4. Tools & Technologies
The biggest positive drop-off came from “Tools & Technologies,” which plummeted from number 3 to number 10. This indicates the average B2B sales representative is happier with the various sales solutions they have to work with.
We already know organizations are investing in tools that increase sales productivity. In fact, studies indicate 50% of “high-growth” organizations have developed a sales stack with 5 or more applications. (Source: TOPO, 11 Sales Development Strategies for High Growth Companies).
So, let’s end on a positive note, these investments are paying off!