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Ask the experts: What’s the hardest part of selling?

In this month’s article where we ask sales experts for their tips, lessons and experiences, we wanted to know what they thought was the hardest part of selling.

Deb Calvert

President at People First Productivity Solutions.

“The hardest part of selling is appropriately allocating your time.”

“There are so many competing priorities every single day! Here’s my best advice for managing your time: E=O.

“That formula stands for Effort = Opportunity. Before burning time or effort on anything, first scope out the opportunity.

“Does the size of the opportunity merit more time and effort than something else does? Will there potentially be a good ROI on the time and effort you invest? When the opportunity is small, make sure your investment is proportionately small, too! That will save you tons of time to re-allocate to bigger and better opportunities.”

Erik Qualman

Founder at Equalman.

“The hardest part of selling is avoiding the curse of knowledge.”

“Meaning: you know your product or service inside and out, and this can actually negatively impact your sales process if you use this "kitchen sink" approach.

“The best approach is to understand what feature of your product or service reduces the most friction for that specific prospect (note: it’s imperative to research and understand the prospects challenges and friction points) and continually drive this home. This is a win-win for both parties.”

Martyn Redstone

Sales Director at RoboRecruiter.

“I think that there are two areas of sales which have got harder and harder nowadays, the first being buyer fatigue towards cold outreach.”

“I think that, as salespeople, we are at a point where we struggle to connect with cold opportunities due to legal regulations like the GDPR, but also general fatigue towards email. People ignore email, email drops into Spam, and (more interestingly) every salesperson is using the same templated sequences and cadences for their outreach. How do we solve this issue at RoboRecruiter?

“At RoboRecruiter, we have concentrated on creating better, higher-scoring leads, from inbound sales and marketing. This has included multimedia content, blogging, cross-posting through partnerships, events, guest writing and event attendance and sponsorship.

“This activity is creating, on average, between three and five high-quality inbound leads per day—not bad for a small startup with limited marketing resources and budget.

“Don’t be scared to use new and different methods to communicate with people. Your leads and your prospects are your consumers and the world of consumer communication and engagement is changing. 48% of 18-40 year-olds prefer to message companies, rather than call or email.

“Use WhatsApp, use SMS, because you might find that your prospects and customers are more responsive to a quick message, rather than a call and a garbled voicemail. We do and it has changed the way we communicate.

“The second biggest challenge is being organized.”

“Sales is a busy role. You’re spinning multiple plates, constantly and it is extremely important to keep organized. Make the best use of your CRM to track your opportunities and deals—those are your rocks. But your day is also filled up with pebbles and sand, so make sure you have a system in place to manage those as well.

“Everybody has their own techniques, keeping track of to-do’s in a notepad, using an app, using tasks within a CRM.

“Sometimes, us salespeople can get so busy that our days start to feel chaotic. Don't let that happen. Technology is your friend if you use it in the right way: to stay organized and productive. My go-to productivity ‘tech stack’ is a CRM, a project management tool and Calendly. Nothing majorly complicated, but using all three makes my life less stressful and my days much more productive.

“The key takeaway? Don’t be afraid to use technology to connect with your prospects in new and innovative ways and to keep yourself organized. Go where the buyers are and communicate with them in a way that they want to be communicated with.”

How to overcome the biggest sales challenges

Our expert panel have outlined some of the biggest challenges in sales today. The question is, how do you overcome these hurdles to generate opportunities when the landscape is harsh?

Optimizing your sales processes and using the right technology is the first step. Here, we’ll dive into how best to conquer these challenges when generating new sales opportunities for your organization.

Weigh up the opportunity

First thing’s first, are you focusing on the right sales activity? If your SDRs are making hundreds of sales calls a day, but very few of them lead to qualified leads, then is this activity the best use of their time?

As Deb suggested above, look at the opportunity ahead of you and evaluate if it’s worth your time. An easy way to do this is to qualify leads and prospects early, before you start engaging with them.

Following our cold call example, it might be worth reducing call volume to focus on a smaller percentage of prospects that fit your absolute “ideal customer profile.” You can then take an omnichannel approach to nurture them and warm them up before the call.

Always be learning

ABL doesn’t have as good a ring to it as ABC. However, you should be keeping up on current trends in your industry, as well as new ideas and approaches to improve your sales skills.

Erik talks about the curse of knowledge, and while this is meant in the context of pitching your product and its features, it can also be applied to sharpening your sales chops.

Do you follow industry-leading sales blogs? Are you catching up and connecting with other sales professionals on a regular basis? While continuous sales training is a must-have for all organizations, you should also take a proactive approach to ensure you’re staying ahead of the curve.

Grab attention across multiple channels

As Martyn put it, buyers are getting tired of seeing cold emails land in their inbox. The best remedy to this is nurturing and connecting with prospects before reaching out to them with your pitch in a follow-up email.

This means connecting on LinkedIn, sharing useful and relevant content and starting a dialog around the topics that interest them. Make yourself familiar with prospects to increase your open rates.

You’ll also have the added benefit of highly personalized outreach email, as the shared experiences you create across these channels can’t be replicated.

For more guidance and tips from the sales experts, read our article on the best sales deals they ever closed.

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