Four Sales Challenges That Will Only Get Worse In 2011

This year has been another challenging year for most B2B sales organisations. In our work we have seen several patterns emerge which have risen to the top of the ‘issues’ list. See how many of them your sales organisation is dealing with (hopefully not every one!).


Sluggish Sales Growth
Still the major issue for many businesses. This problem has several forms, inability to raise retail prices, demand not picking up, and extreme volatility in the sale pipeline are the three most common symptoms. The softness in sales numbers has encouraged some Sales Directors to use Sales Promotions to increase demand – to in effect buy business through cutting prices, increasing discounts, putting packages together etc. The danger with this approach is of course creating a new (lower) market price which is difficult to then move away from if demand doesn’t pick up

Rising Sales Costs
Regardless of what is happening to your top line sales costs will rise, usually at a faster rate than inflation. The Internet was supposed to reduce sales costs but unless you are completely on-line it has added to them, because the web has become either an additional sales channel or a straight marketing cost.

Continuing Creeping Commoditisation
Value chains continue to commoditise, especially at the lower end. Unless salespeople can move up the value chain to a place of greater value add, they become very expensive communication conduits of price and delivery information.

Increasing Transparency Being Demanded
If your margins rely on opaqueness you will struggle to maintain them. If a cost plus margin is added with no demonstrable value add customers start to ask questions. Open book pricing, and co-creating value is where real partnerships can be built.