What Are the Real Inhibitors to Effective Selling in Your Organization?

When companies come to us to understand how their salespeople can sell more effectively, we don’t just look at sales training.  One of the foundation exercises we conduct with sales leaders consists of a look at inhibitors to effective selling at multiple levels.  What follows are real examples of those challenges from sales leaders with whom we have worked.  These are partial lists, of course, and they differ, sometimes significantly, depending on the company.

1. First we look at inhibitors to winning the individual deal.

  • Can’t compete at the lowest price
  • Don’t really understand the customer’s buying process
  • Don’t have a competitive product
  • Don’t understand/can’t control deal timing
  • Don’t meet all customer requirements
  • Don’t sell to a qualified prospect in our sweet spot
  • Our salespeople don’t have the skills required to manage and win an opportunity
  • Our salespeople aren’t consultative enough

2. Next we look at the sales infrastructure level.

  • We don’t have the right tools: messages, ROI models, collateral, website, etc.
  • We don’t have enough qualified sales support people, e.g. engineers
  • There are imbalanced territory assignments and/or sales channels. Hunters versus farmers, inside versus outside, etc.
  • 20 percent of our reps delivering 80% of the revenue
  • We’re not employing the right (or any?) sales enablement technologies
  • We don’t have enough qualified leads
  • We don’t have a methodology/process
  • Our compensation and incentive structures don’t work
  • Our people need sales training
  • Our forecasts are way, way off

3. At the company level:

  • Our reputation, financial viability, brand awareness insufficient or challenged
  • Our company’s culture doesn’t support the sales function
  • We have customer satisfaction problems
  • There are weaknesses in the senior management team
  • Our cost base relative to competition prevents competitiveness
  • We can’t produce/deliver what we sell
  • We are challenged by internal communications
  • Difficulty maintaining margins

4. At the external/systemic level/the outside environment

  • A challenging economy
  • Industry buying trends led by powerful procurement strategies
  • What the competition is doing
  • Public sector bid requirements/restrictions
  • Localization for multi-national corporations

My questions to you are these:

  1. Have you done a similar exercise?
  2. Do you know, specifically, what the inhibitors are that prevent effective selling in your company?
  3. What’s your plan to overcome your selling challenges?

©2011 – Dave Stein/ES Research Group, Inc. – All Rights Reserved

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  1. says


    This is really a wonderful post.

    As a sales leader, one is often times so close to the trees that we don’t see the forest.

    This list is an excellent self-diagnostic and roadmap to helping non-performing reps get on track, and performing reps to do even more.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Dave Stein says

      Hi Gary, I’m not a trainer/consultant. My firm, ES Research, evaluates, rates and compares sales training companies, their programs and approaches.

      With that in mind, if you are talking about products or services that aren’t at least on par with the competition, my finger points at the heads of Marketing and R&D and CEO/COO that hired them. If the problem is effective positioning or articulating the value of what are adequate products and services, that’s the VP of Marketing’s challenge.