4 Challenges Sales Leaders Face in 2019

June 17, 2019

Shawn Parrotte

We interviewed 133 sales leaders at a wide variety of organizations on the State of Sales Performance. After reviewing the responses to our survey, we identified four challenges sales leaders say they face in 2019.

1. Unpredictable Quota Attainment #

Setting a quota that’s fair, but tough to achieve is one of the most important decisions sales leaders make, and it’s increasingly a difficult one. That’s because many sales leaders are setting quotas in new or very early markets without a lot of precedent.

If the quota is too high, the team may get discouraged and churn since the OTE you shared with them during the hiring process will seem unrealistic. If it’s too low, reps might close less than they could have otherwise.

However, from our data, quota achievement is clearly all over the map.

Unpredictable quota

Some organizations drive 10% achievement while others hit 90%. While some discrepancies are normal, such a wide range of responses indicate that sales leaders need a better way to set quotas and other performance benchmarks.

When this is the case, it is critical that sales leaders differentiate between things reps cannot control (i.e. drastic differences in their books of business) and can control (i.e. drastic differences in adoption of the sales methodology or talk track) that may influence quota attainment. Only by doing so will sales leaders understand what a typical high-performer is able to achieve and where average or low performers net out.

2. Inconsistent and Low-Quality Training #

When asked about their training and onboarding programs, many sales leaders are clearly not satisfied. More than 34.8% say they have little to no formal training. Another 35% say reps struggle to get exposure to all of the parts of the sales process and challenges they’ll face quickly.

Inconsistent training

The reason? Sales leaders feel the amount of knowledge a rep needs to succeed is rising given increasingly complex product and services. At the same time, many markets are growing in competitiveness. To solve this challenge, we recommend building playlists of best-in-class calls that reps can listen to during onboarding so they are quickly exposed to the same talk tracks. This also helps reps ramp much quicker because they can listen to carefully selected calls during down time rather than waiting for someone to let them shadow a call that may not even be of value.

3. Pipeline Building and a Lack of Urgency #

As markets become increasingly crowded, many sales teams are feeling the pain in their pipeline building and urgency efforts. It is more difficult than ever to break through with lead-generation since today’s prospects are inundated with so much mail. This has led to a recent decrease in the number of meetings reps are able to set at many organizations.

Pipeline building

When meetings are held, reps are often left competing against many other priorities or the choice anxiety of doing nothing at all. More than ever it is critical that reps are given a strong talk track to handle objections, make a business case, and inspire urgency throughout the sale process to stand out.

4. Misaligned Sales Narratives #

That brings us to the next point. Another challenge sales leaders face is that 30% believe they have a misaligned sales narrative. This is also a byproduct of products and services becoming increasingly complex while markets grow crowded. To stand out, sales leaders and reps frequently experiment with the sales narrative. This leads to the sales narrative becoming Frankenstein-like and applied differently by individual reps.

Rather than investing in ongoing coaching and monitoring the adoption of the sales narrative across the team, many sales leaders churn through reps who are unable to hit quota. They then spend another 4-6 months replacing and ramping reps in a never-ending cycle.

Instead, sales leaders should invest in actively tracking how reps on their team adopt the talk track and put a plan in place to provide ongoing coaching.

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