Top B2B Sales Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Top B2B Sales Challenges_Header redux

B2B sales has become an increasingly competitive landscape in recent years. In fact, only 24.3% of surveyed salespeople exceeded their sales goal in 2020.

This means that the B2B sales world has become more and more difficult to excel in than before. Outlined next are the biggest challenges our own sales leaders have seen in recent memory:

  1. Long sales cycles
  2. Getting to decision makers
  3. Salespeople’s limited time
  4. Sales-marketing alignment
  5. Handling objections
  6. Scaling your sales team
6 Challenges to Sales Leaders

A common misconception is that salespeople can only control so much of the outcome. However, there are many tactics you can use to minimize the negative impacts of these challenges. 

In this post, we’ll cover these challenges more in-depth and provide solutions to get over them. You’ll soon see that some common themes for solutions are standardizing processes, improving communication, and creating specialized teams.

Challenge 1: Long sales cycles

While the B2C sales cycle can be minutes, the B2B sales cycle can take weeks — even months. There are many factors that contribute to the prolonged sales cycle, such as the need to convince more than one person to buy into your sophisticated product and the higher average sales price (ASP).

To overcome this challenge, your sales team needs to find a way to speed up time-consuming parts of the process — such as generating leads and finalizing contract terms.

How to shorten the sales cycle

The best way to tackle a long sales cycle is to improve your sales messaging and target relevant stakeholders early on. Your goal is to prove your solution’s value quickly by outlining exactly how it’ll meet your potential buyers’ needs. 

Here are some tactics you can use to shorten the sales cycle:

  • Creating an SDR team: A sales development rep’s job is to handle the majority of the prospecting duties. Since they’re wholly focused on setting meetings and qualifying prospects, it’ll free up your sales team’s time. Moreover, SDRs and AEs focus on different parts of the sales cycle and optimize your sales process.

  • Creating strong marketing assets: Effective landing pages and marketing assets can help lead your prospects to you. Your marketing team should make sure your online presence conveys authority, which helps build trust with your prospects. This will enable your sales team to spend less time on these prospects directly while your marketing department nurtures them passively and builds interest in your solution.

  • Involving relevant stakeholders early: A buying committee is typically made up of multiple decision makers, influencers, and evaluators. Plus, legal and finance teams tend to have a say in the final verdict of the purchasing decision. By reaching these key people early, sales reps will be able to stimulate a conversation proactively and reduce roadblocks proactively.

  • Offering a time-based incentive: If your prospects are still on the fence, add urgency to your deal. Using closing techniques, such as offering a time-sensitive discount, can motivate your buyers to convert within a shorter period of time.

At the end of the day, your goal is to communicate your sales message to the people who matter most to the decision-making process. The faster you’re able to do this, the shorter your sales cycles will be.

Conveying your sales message effectively takes skilled salespeople. Our sales experts know from first-hand experience working with a wide range of B2B customers that you need to experiment repeatedly to find out what resonates with your market and what needs to be adjusted.

Challenge 2: Getting to decision makers

Did you know that 50% of your prospects in your sales pipeline right now are actually not a good fit for your solution? That can be a result of a poor contact data vendor or your prospects purposely withholding their information. Regardless, this makes it more difficult for your sales team to effectively identify and target decision makers in an organization.

To boost your chances of conversion, you’ll need to figure out who to target and how to prioritize which leads to pursue.

Not a good fit stat

How to reach decision makers

Your goal is to efficiently find members of your target account’s buying committee by creating a better targeting strategy. To do so, you need to:

  • Work with gatekeepers: The biggest mistake is treating gatekeepers as just a roadblock. We’ve found that focusing on finding the right contact — not on pitching to gatekeepers — allows your sales team to reach a decision maker and create a tailored pitch down the road.

  • Build an SDR team: An SDR’s goal is to get past gatekeepers and set sales appointments through consistent touchpoints. That way, your salespeople can do what they do best: closing deals. As we cover further challenges throughout this post, you’ll see that a specialized team of SDRs can help solve many of your sales team’s struggles.

  • Create well-defined buyer personas: This allows you to identify potential buyers based on their shared characteristics with your top buyers. You can also identify evaluators and influencers who can impact the final decision-making.

  • Invest in the right data vendor: Going with the right data vendor means quickly identifying relevant contacts with the right job titles who would actually make the purchase. Learn how to find the right data partner with our post, How to Choose the Best B2B Contact Database Provider.

We can’t emphasize the importance of investing in great prospect data enough. Studies have shown that companies that prioritize data hygiene create 7x the number of inquiries and 4x the number of leads than those who don’t. For your sales team, it means that it’ll take less effort to spark interest in your solution just by using cleaner data.

When you’re ready to take your contact data to the next level, be sure to get in touch with our data team. We use a mix of human verification with proprietary processes to make sure your database is accurate.

Challenge 3: Salespeople’s limited time

Surveys have shown that salespeople only spend a third of their day actually talking to prospects. The same survey shows salespeople spend a staggering amount of time on administrative tasks and internal meetings. In fact, they spend 17% of their day on data entry alone, on average.

Salespeople's Time Chart

What does this mean for your business? With less time spent actually selling, it means your team is not building relationships with prospects at the desired volume.

How to improve sales productivity

Over our 15+ years of experience helping B2B companies with their sales, we’ve found that the majority of salespeople who find it difficult to balance all of their tasks lack a standardized process to follow. Your goal is to find ways to make your sales process more efficient and easier to scale.

Here are some examples of how you can standardize your sales process:

  • Use automation: 71% of sales reps say they spend too much time on data entry, so you should find ways to automate relatively simple tasks. However, use caution when automating tasks as overly automating can create impersonal experiences for your prospects — such as if you rely on autodialers or pre-recorded voicemails.

  • Standardizing contact data: 42% of sales reps feel they don’t have enough information on their prospects before making a call. Therefore, your SDRs should collect more information on your prospects throughout the call and record these notes in a consistent way. By standardizing your contact data, you’ll empower your sales team to create tailored pitches. To get started on data standardization, download our sales prospect list template.

  • Developing a playbook: Record all of your standardized processes in a shareable playbook; this ensures everyone is on the same page on methodology, can replicate these tasks consistently, and understands how to prioritize their tasks better.

One of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen in other organizations is that they’re treating their playbook as a one-and-done document. A key aspect of perfecting any process is continued optimization — which takes the guesswork out of sales. We’ve found that honing in on a process that works will save your sales team time overall.

Challenge 4: Sales-marketing misalignment

87% of sales and marketing leaders say that collaboration between sales and marketing enables critical business growth. However, many companies struggle with just how out of sync their sales and marketing divisions have become.

From a sales perspective, they feel as though the marketing leads aren’t always the highest quality. On the other hand, marketing feels as though sales aren’t doing enough to engage the prospects the marketing team has found through their campaigns and efforts.

How to boost sales and marketing alignment

To improve cross-department synergy, you’ll need to encourage collaboration and transparency between the two departments.

Here’s how you can boost sales-marketing team alignment:

  • Encourage an open feedback loop: Both your sales and marketing leaders need to come together regularly to discuss strategy and provide feedback. From these conversations, sales can get branded sales collateral to help them close deals. Marketing can get content ideas based on recurring sales calls themes.

  • Utilizing a CRM: This allows relevant stakeholders to see the direct ROI of their campaigns and efforts. Marketers can see how many leads they’ve introduced to the funnel, while sales can understand the source of these leads and the effects on the full buyer’s journey. Learn more about the benefits of different teams using a CRM as a single source of truth.

  • Using a lead rating system: An SDR team can bridge the gap between sales and marketing, and a lead qualification system can help them track how leads from different sources progress through the funnel. Using a lead qualification process helps salespeople figure out which lead to prioritize, so that valuable warm leads are followed up with in a timely manner.

At EBQ, we use our own EBRating to gauge our prospect’s level of interest in our solutions and in our client’s solutions. This granular rating system helps SDRs with follow-ups as sales and marketing gain visibility into where their prospects are in the pipeline.

EBRating 2020

Challenge 5: Handling objections

Most B2B buyers say “no” four times before saying yes, but studies have shown that 48% of salespeople usually give up on the prospect after the first “no.”

From our experience, budget is often the most common roadblock that prevents a prospect from converting. This means that while the prospect sees the value of a solution, they are preemptively trying to figure out if the ROI is worth the investment.

How to overcome objections in sales

It’s important to prepare your salespeople for common objections. That way, they’re minimizing the number of key opportunities that slip by from just a simple “no.”

To help with this initiative, we recommend:

  • Providing more training: Most salespeople say that when they figure out what works for them, they won’t change their methodology. That mindset won’t work in the ever-changing landscape of any B2B industry. With more workshop sessions and training, your salespeople will be encouraged to look at objections from new perspectives.

  • Developing a playbook: Once again, it’s all about optimizing your process. A playbook helps guide your salespeople to overcome objections during the call on the fly. Use this time to outline a few of your most common objections and outline how to answer them.

Another common mistake is to discourage your salespeople from tailoring their sales messaging. Because their goal should be to create a human connection with your prospects, they should have the flexibility to figure out what works for them.

Challenge 6: Scaling your sales team

Hiring and retaining a sales team is a huge challenge; it’s why many organizations struggle with growing their sales team after initially building the team structure.

Growing the sales team is necessary for closing new businesses. For example, you may be struggling to keep up with a large volume of inbound leads. Or you may be looking to tap into new markets without taking focus away from your current markets. All in all, continuing to increase in revenue means you’ll eventually need to grow your sales team. However, hiring, training, and retaining new sales reps can be challenging.

How to grow your sales team

Finding cost-effective ways to add new resources to your team or to give your existing sales reps more capacity will be key to scaling your sales team.

  • Recruiting salespeople: The traditional way to grow a sales team is hiring either full-time or part-time salespeople. However, both have their benefits and disadvantages. Full-time employees are often more costly to onboard, as you need to factor in their benefits as well. However, part-time employees may not have the time to get up to speed with your processes in an efficient manner.

  • Outsourcing: Because of the costs associated with hiring fully burdened employees, many turn to outsourcing. Not only are you protected from turnover effects, but quality firms are able to provide a streamlined process that’s been proven time and time again. Before you start looking for your outsourced partner, we recommend reviewing these four considerations for outsourcing ahead of time. 

  • Increasing salespeople’s capacity: Utilizing automation for repetitive tasks can be an effective way to increase salespeople’s capacity, but be aware that automation has its drawbacks as well. Additionally, implementing the SDR/AE model allows the salespeople to focus on developing stronger relationships with prospects. While this doesn’t directly scale your sales team, it does allow you to get more done with your current team.

Your goal here is to make sure your business scales as your sales team grows. You can do this by creating opportunities to optimize your ROI while looking to hire top talent.

Solve your B2B sales challenges today.

B2B sales is all about helping your business grow revenue, but it has become an increasingly competitive landscape. The best way to overcome your sales challenges is to optimize your processes, improve communication, and create specialized teams — such as an SDR team.

As a recap, the 6 biggest sales challenges today are:

  1. Long sales cycle
  2. Getting to decision makers
  3. Salespeople’s limited time
  4. Sales-marketing misalignment
  5. Handling objections
  6. Scaling your sales team

If you’re looking to hire top sales talent, EBQ’s sales team can quickly get up to speed with your unique sales process — making it more efficient and cost-effective than hiring internally. We specialize in working as a part of your team to help you overcome your biggest sales challenges. Visit our outsourced sales page to learn more.

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