What are the biggest sales challenges for 2015?

Elinor Stutz
Elinor Stutz

CEO of Smooth Sale and international best selling author

Bob Apollo
Bob Apollo

CEO of Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners and B2B sales and marketing expert

Matt Heinz
Matt Heinz

Sales acceleration specialist and President of Heinz Marketing

Tibor Shanto
Tibor Shanto

Award winning author and B2B sales execution specialist

Jason Jordan
Jason Jordan

Partner of Vantage Point Performance and recognized sales thought leader

As 2014 is coming to an end we at Fileboard asked top 50 sales thought leaders to share their predictions for 2015. These thought leaders are respected and followed by thousands who have keen interest in discipline of sales. Their combined predictions and insights resulted in the 4 key challenges layed out for you in this blogpost. But that’s not all. We also created an extensive e-book that includes all the 2015 sales prediction to power your sales in 2015. Please make sure to download!

Challenges:

With each of these thought leaders we discussed the sales challenges for 2015. The 4 challenges that appeared most often in our conversations about future sales trends are:

Focus

  • Each industry has its own unique sales challenges, but one issue that is universal is the inability of sellers to focus on the most important things.  The most important prospects, the most important opportunities, the most important sales activities, the most important metrics – these are the things that drive sales success. (Jason Jordan)
  • I think the biggest challenge is focus. There is a lot of noise out here, and in many forms. As the economy picks up, there will be many “false opportunities”, sales people need to know what they are looking for, and not chase “shiny objects”. (Tibor Shanto)
  • Fight the daily war against distraction and non-urgent fire drills.  Focus exclusively on what’s most important to your pipeline.  That’s how you win.” (Matt Heinz)
  • Lastly, qualify and match all prospects by eliminating the ones who are particularly challenging in order to make time to find the ones who appreciate your help.  Serving appreciative clients well develops a loyal clientele. This all serves to keep spirits high, salespeople productive and reward earned.” (Elinor Stutz)

Successful onboarding

  • Recruitment is another area where there’s scope for tremendous productivity gains. The cost of a bad hiring decision or a poor induction program is far more than the salary you pay while you’re working out that you’ve recruited someone that never going to have what it takes. That’s why I’m seeing increased focus in two related areas: first, structured assessment of candidates against a clearly defined success profile, and second, a formalized on-boarding program. Taken together, these two initiatives can significantly increase success rates. (Bob Apollo)
  • Extra time for self-educating and formal training is scarce. Yet with technology continually changing, it will be a huge challenge to keep on top of the best apps suited for sales, learn the best techniques for usage, and efficiently implement at the same time one is trying to develop business. (Elinor Stutz)
  • When front-line sales managers are highly capable and set aside the time to coach and develop their sellers, performance necessarily improves… Without exception. When sales managers are incapable or distracted, sales rep performance stagnates… Without exception. Getting your sales managers on top of their game should be a top priority for 2015. (Jason Jordan)

Technology adoption

  • I believe sales and technology have the philosophy of trial and error in common. Early versions may not work as expected but by recognizing where fixes need to be made or the better route to take, success will be found. The old wisdom still holds true, never give up but find a better way will lead to the Smooth Sale! (Elinor Stutz)
  • Technology adoption among sales professionals has been well behind marketing. That needs to change. There is a growing number of automation technologies focused on sales professionals, but we need those same sales professionals to pick up the sword and take advantage of what is now in front of them. (Matt Heinz)
  • The technology that survives will be those that add to the process in a meaningful and measurable way. Just because it is “cool” doesn’t make it useful, especially if it distracts and wastes time. Technologies that add real value will thrive; technology that just masks people’s inability to execute will soon wither, because it is still true, that a fool with a tool is still a fool. (Tibor Shanto)
  • I see tremendous scope for more effective CRM systems, pipeline analytics, sales playbooks and candidate assessment tools. Tools like Fileboard have a critical role to play in improving sales productivity and effectiveness, and are a great example of the trend towards tools that support the sales conversation, and help to customize the interaction between sales person and prospect.”
    (Bob Apollo)

Effective management

  • I have always believed that how a rep utilizes their time will determine their success. All things being equal, with two equally good sales people the one that uses their time more effectively will outperform. I have never had a rep tell me they have run out of skills, but lots tell me they ran out time. To be clear, I am not talking about “time management”, that’s a stupid concept created to sell books. Time already comes managed, 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks to a year; not much left to manage. What you should do with time is ALLOCATE it to high value activities, and then manage your activities, something you can actually manage, control and improve.
    (Tibor Shanto)
  • Discipline and process. Fundamentally, this literally comes down to email management, time management, calendar management, task management. Fight the daily war against distraction and non-urgent fire drills. Focus exclusively on what’s most important to your pipeline. That’s how you win. (Matt Heinz)

We hope the insights and predictions in this article will help you to reflect on your 2014 sales performance, and help you to become more successful in 2015. Do make sure to get the full e-book including all the insights, predictions and tips for 2015!