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4 common sales problems you need to fix NOW

written by sales-i Marketing Team

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We are often guilty of ignoring our problems and just letting them tick away in the background while we focus on the positive things in our lives.

While it’s a nice way to go about living in the short term, it can do you some serious damage in the long-term.

Minor health niggles, small financial difficulties and bad habits can all become much more serious problems in the future if we ignore them in the present.

Well, believe it or not, exactly the same can be said for your sales process.

Whether it’s something you hate doing, something you aren’t good at or something you’ve done for so long you don’t even think about it any more, there’s always room for improvement. But, for some reason or another, you just keep on doing things the way you always have.

Below are 4 problems that many salespeople face on a day-to-day basis and how to solve them.

1. Stale atmosphere

This is one really for sales managers and those aspiring to be sales managers at some point in their careers.

A lot of sales teams either don’t have a rewards system in place or have a rewards system which is broken.

Broken rewards systems often favor salespeople who have been with the company longer or have the most loyal customers.

This means that a few senior salespeople can easily sweep most of the rewards over the course of a year by simply having the longest standing customers, whereas a newbie who is focusing on a new market may have a much tougher time.

The easiest and greatest way to fix this problem is to reward new business over repeat business. By giving out rewards based on new business and not solely based on returning customers, you encourage your sales team to go out there and be really ambitious.

Something else that can make a rewards system lag behind is that the rewards are similar to one another throughout the year. Refresh the system by offering completely different rewards depending on the week, month or season.

Another great tip, specifically for those running large companies, is to do a tournament style scheme.

Spanning your rewards system across the company in a department vs department or team vs. team style is a great way to make people work together and create competition throughout the whole business.

In the words of Sun Tzu, writer of one of the greatest strategy books of all time, The Art of War: “if the code respecting rewards and punishments is clear and speedily applied, then you may use the many as you do the few”. In other words, give every single salesperson a very clear reason to work their ass off and every single one will do just that.

2. A broken social approach

We’ve written plenty of articles on social media over the last couple of years because social media has become such a serious aspect of the sales world.

Most of us use social media for personal reasons outside of work, but using social channels like LinkedIn for sales purposes is a completely different thing.

Sadly, despite LinkedIn’s potential for growing your reputation and your prospect base, few salespeople actually do any research on what a solid social strategy looks like.

A lot of salespeople treat LinkedIn as some kind of popularity contest; as though posting funny or controversial pictures, maths quizzes and opinion posts to get hundreds of likes, shares and profile views is what’s going to make you more successful.

Frankly, it’s not. Even if you might have a few people get in touch here or there, there are much, much better ways to find and grow viable leads.

The fact is that, while it might make you feel good in the short term, in the long term, serious businesspeople will realize that you’re not one of them.

Serious businesspeople don’t have time for funny posts or quotes; they’re too busy doing their jobs. And you should be too.

Even liking one of these non-business posts is seriously detrimental to your success because your liked posts spill over into your feed.

It sounds so obvious but if it’s not professional, it shouldn’t be on LinkedIn, and anything you relate yourself by liking or sharing that isn’t to do with your industry will make you look unprofessional too.

As a rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t say it or show it to a customer or prospect in a meeting, don’t post it on LinkedIn. Everything you post should be seen as an interaction with customers and prospects.

Would you quickly show them a maths quiz to see if they could get the answer right, read them a cringey quote or tell a half-funny joke? No, you definitely would not (I hope).

The best way to use social media is the simple way. Share links to industry-specific articles you’ve seen in the news, comment on questions other people post or even consider starting your own group where people can go to share ideas and thoughts.

Better yet, do this on a person-to-person basis. If you see an article that you know will be useful to some of your customers or prospects for whatever reason, send it to them in an InMail; it will show them that you think about them beyond the monthly call or sales pitch.

Do anything that’s well and truly relevant to your industry and people will, in time, flock to you.

Quality of leads over quantity of likes wins every day of the week.

3. Zero content

What’s great about being a salesperson is that you’re truly knowledgeable about your industry. This, in turn, means that you can create great content.

Write about your personal experiences in your industry and you’ll make the people in your network feel like they know you and can relate to you on a personal level as well as a business level. This is the essence of creating strong personal relationships in sales.

If you really want to get serious about growing valuable leads and becoming the go-to name in your industry, content is a great way to go.

If you’re smart about it though, you don’t even need to write your own stuff; you can recycle others’ content for your own benefit.

Say you see a post you like by someone in your network for an industry magazine or on their company blog, tell them you liked it so much, you’d love to repost it for them to your LinkedIn Pulse, giving them all of the credit.

If they agree, (which they should, because they’ll benefit too) you can add in a little introduction of your own about why you liked the post and a paragraph to sign off with about the lessons you learned from it.

Doing this not only boosts the original author’s credibility, it also makes you memorable to your audience who feel as though they know you from you.

Either that or try knocking up your own content and working with a marketer to iron out the creases and make it a really solid piece.

Just the other week in fact one of our sales guys wrote his first blog post. It was a great, insightful post, which used a real life story that got him thinking as its inspiration. You can read it here.

4. Swallow your pride

You may have heard your colleague use a great line with a prospect or customer in the past but didn’t want to say anything or use it for yourself.

You’re just as likely to have heard someone make a mistake and not wanted to correct them, knowing that they might get a little too defensive over the situation.

This is a very common problem in sales. The high levels of competition often mean people can refrain from giving one another confidence boosts, compliments or help.

This is all too understandable in companies with – as we spoke about – highly competitive rewards schemes and in which people are often fighting for rewards and promotion.

The funny thing is that you’re only holding each other down. By complimenting someone on a specific phrase or term you heard them use on a call, not only do you free yourself up to use it, you also boost their confidence.

And if you’re really gunning for a promotion or pay rise, offering help and support to those around you – as suggestions, not instructions – is a great way to get noticed.

Maybe include a link to the bugbears of a salesperson whitepaper?

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Our marketing team have been working hard to bring insightful content to wholesale, manufacturing and distribution professionals.

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