5 barriers to selling and how to overcome them

We’re just emerging from the most difficult economic times in years and cashflow continues to be a problem for many businesses. Making a sale in such a tough marketplace requires an exceptional level of skill and the ability to overcome any barrier.

Without the right capabilities and the understanding required to counter objections, individual sales performance can be negatively impacted. Salespeople need to develop their skillset and awareness of how to overcome barriers for more effective selling. 

Our experience has shown that the key barriers to sales can be divided into five categories:

1. Relationships

Relationships are the most important area of sales, especially forming relationships with the right people. An inability to identify which connections are worth pursuing represents a significant stumbling block and a waste of time, a failure to develop the relationship can also mean potential loss of business.

To successfully manage relationships your people need to master a very specific skillset. Enhancing their ability to formulate a relationship strategy can help salespeople to source and qualify leads, helping them to recognise the relationships that will generate the highest value.

Increasing capability in core areas such as questioning and listening will enable salespeople to communicate and create rapport with prospects, helping them to maintain the relationship in the long-term.

2. Role ambiguity

The sales toolkit has advanced dramatically; sophisticated analytics, software, and complex skills have given salespeople a wider range of expertise. While salespeople with a multitude of skills are undoubtedly more versatile, the ability to cover a range of areas can also lead to role ambiguity. 

If your people are unsure of what falls within their remit, there is a risk that time will be poorly managed and sales territory will be invaded, impacting personal and company targets. 

The best way to guard against this is to set clear definitions of the competencies and responsibilities required for each role within your organisation. This will give your people a precise idea of where their time needs to be focused for maximum effect and minimum conflict; increasing both individual and company performance levels.

3. Tech-speak

When salespeople know their product or service well, it is easy to forget that the benefits it offers are not obvious to people from outside your organisation. Selling a niche product can also mean that they speak their own special brand of jargon. 

If they aren’t careful, sellers may mind that their pitch is a complicated mixture of abbreviations and ‘industry-speak’ that alienates their prospect.

The information that you communicate to your prospect must be simple, accessible, and based on benefits. What appeals to your prospect is what your product or service can do for them, rather than just what it can do. 

Salespeople need to consider their audience and use language that expresses the benefits of their offering without being overcomplicated. A full technical readout will not capture the attention of a potential customer, but an outline of how it can improve performance, ROI or productivity certainly will. 

4. Need and cost

The dual barriers of need and cost often go together. The need for an offering is heavily influenced by its perceived value. Without a clear understanding of the true value of your offering, the only way to distinguish yourself is to compete on price. 

This will nearly always create the inevitable downward spiral that results in decreased margins and impacts upon your bottom line. 

This makes the ability to communicate an effective Sales Value Proposition (SVP) and link an offering in with a customer’s requirements vital to making a sale. 

With a good grasp of the SVP, salespeople can identify their customer’s wants and needs, and formulate a way to address these, increasing the value of your product and differentiating you from the competition.

Russell Ward’s new book High Performance Sales Strategies, is out now, published by Pearson.

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