At the CEB Sales and Marketing Summit many dimensions and directions of growing revenues were discussed, as was roadblocks to seller success.
Brent Adamson, co-author of The Challenger Sale and also of The Challenger Customer spoke about a term that CEB has coined called “seller burden”.
Simply put, seller burden is what it FEELS like to sell in your organization. When he mentioned this, I immediately went back to some of my former sales roles and could physically “feel” those sales gigs. Depending on how smooth it was to work with a buyer and then see that the services I sold got delivered OR in some cases, how very hard it was for a closed deal to actually get fulfilled, I went from good feeling to a pit in my stomach.
According to the research done at CEB, there are three areas with burden for sellers, and the sooner your company can assist in reducing them, the more opportunity your sales reps can do their jobs better.
The three areas are:
1) Product complexity
the products and services you sell and support. Often there are add ons to help differentiate your solution from your competitors’.
2) Customer Complexity
With the new research of having 6.8 customer stakeholders involved in any complex sale, there is no wonder it takes a project manager-type of seller to stay on point with each person. According to the research, as you go beyond 3.7 customer functions being represented everyone’s interests are different so quite often the decision becomes whatever works for the lowest common denominator in your buying group. This means settling for the status quo or going with a less expensive competitor.
3) Internal Complexity
CEB’s study showed that 16.4% of sales cycle time is spent on internal approvals and that 4.3 internal colleagues are involved in complex deals. So not only do I need to sell my buyers, but often I have to sell internally. If I happen to be in an industry like manufacturing or distribution I have added layers of issues – like getting products actually created and / or shipped.
If you are a company leader or sales leader and want to know what’s on your sales reps’ minds some of this above is what keeps THEM up at night.
Of all of the issues, it is internal complexity that you have a good shot at improving. Stop telling your reps to just “suck it up” and deal with it.
Do you ever have meetings where you map out road blocks and barriers to deal success within your organization?
We know that sales reps are struggling with what Adamson calls, “The World of More”.
Reps have more people to deal with, and way more technology and tools. They need help.
Sellers in “Higher Burden” organizations have a 12% lower organizational sales conversion rate.
Complexity always makes things worse. It slows down the sales process, and in some cases causes deals to not happen.
Can leadership in your company address how your sales reps feel?
Work to reduce the “touchpoints” that need to happen in order for a sales rep to bring a new buyer on as a customer.
In the “old days” we referred to internal obstacles as the “sales prevention department”. Now all of the touchpoints internally can be measured. You can improve this area and help sellers win.
1) Reduce distraction
2) Streamline workflow (this system to that system to the spreadsheet to the app)
3) Ease resource navigation
4) Focus selling support (make some hard choices about which process steps and skills matter most)
Lori Richardson helps mid-sized companies grow revenues by solving key issues in their sales department - like recruiting, retention, diversity hiring, process, pipeline and leadership. She speaks at CEO groups on topics of sales growth. Clients include companies in the technology, telecom, manufacturing, distribution, and professional services industries. Subscribe to the award-winning blog, follow her on Twitter
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