The Challenges of Sales

Anne McCloskey Marketing Executive at Professional Academy

A career in sales can be both satisfying and rewarding, but it also comes with some challenges. Sales once had a bad reputation, from the high-pressure tactics of double-glazing reps to dodgy second-hand car dealers, it took legislation to curb the bad practices of old. But merely working within the law isn’t the biggest challenge the sales profession faces as the digital age has given more knowledge and power to buyers. This blog takes a look at the challenges sales professionals now face and how they can be overcome. 

The Sales Target Challenge:

There is no denying that sales is a high-pressure career. Even if employers don’t set a specific target for the year, there remains the challenge to exceed last year's achievement. This ‘make-the-sales-at-all-costs’ mentality will ultimately backfire if potential buyers may be put off by the hard-sell attitude.  

The professional salesperson will instead focus on listening to and exploring the needs of the buyers to find the best options / personalised solution for them.  This more fruitful approach means shifting to an emphasis on building long-term relationships that are based on trust. Happy customers will not only return to you, but are likely to provide shining reviews that, in turn, persuade new customers to get in touch. 

The Sales Technique Challenge:

Consumers now have the tools to research many viable solutions to their needs. They can research a particular solution, look at user and expert reviews, and find comparisons between competing offerings. Once a potential buyer reaches out, the last thing they want, or need is a standard PowerPoint presentation that does not address any specific needs or concerns .

As with the sales target challenge, the professional salesperson will put effort into finding out what the buyer’s pain points are, and directly addressing these. Adopting active-listening techniques ensures a good understanding of what the buyer needs and how best to position products/services to show they can meet specific needs.   

The Sales Knowledge Challenge:

Now that potential buyers can easily research the range of products and services on  offer from various suppliers, salespeople need to have a strong understanding of their own offerings and how they stack up against competitors. When a buyer makes contact it’s quite likely they are reaching out to several potential suppliers and how salespeople respond will be a factor in deciding which supplier they go with.  

A professional salesperson will assume that the buyer is in contact with multiple suppliers and that the buyer has listed the pros and cons of each. So, the sales pitch is not just about how your product/service is better, with an emphasis on its USP, but being able to demonstrate how any perceived weaknesses (in comparison with competitors) may be overcome. This is the point where relationship building begins and making a buyer feel they are valued and can trust the sales professional will influence their decision. 

The Buyer First Challenge:

To succeed in sales in 2024 a sales professional needs a ‘buyer-first’ mentality. In other words, your purpose is not to sell a product or service, it is to listen to the requirements of each buyer and propose a personal solution that matches their requirements.  

You must also follow up once they become a customer to find out if the solution has met their expectations. Get them to review the product/service if they are happy, but if they have issues or concerns, ensure these are promptly addressed.  

The sales challenge has become the customer relationship challenge.  

Conclusion Becoming a Sales Professional:

No matter what stage of your sales career you are at, there is always more to learn. Continuous professional development can assist a salesperson to fill in gaps in their skills, and as their career progresses, help them gain the knowledge to work with high-value clients. It can also provide help with skills such as team management, sales technology, coaching and ethical and legal requirements. 

Taking a qualification in sales professionalism not only provides a solid foundation of key knowledge and skills, but also gives you the means to prove the extent of your ability. This is particularly useful when you want to push for promotion or go for a role with a new employer. 

Professional Sales Qualifications:

Professional Academy offers a range of professional sales qualifications, from entry level to advanced sales, sales coaching, to Chartered level for senior sales leaders/directors. Read more: Sales Qualifications 

Read our Blogs: 

27 Lessons from 27 Yeas in Sales 

How to Win Big Clients