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Top Sales Challenges and Priorities for Sales Enablement and Leaders

blog author
Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

What challenges do sales enablement and sales leaders encounter most often? Which ones are most difficult to tackle?

What are the top sales priorities for the next 12 months? How should they be addressed to ensure they're achieved?

To find out the answers to these questions, we surveyed 423 sales, enablement, and company leaders.

The results are fascinating. As sales researchers and analysts, it helps us to see not only what's changed, but also what's changing right now and where the industry is going.

Top Sales Challenges
  1. Recruiting and hiring (finding strong sales talent): 52% of leaders find this very challenging
  2. Lead quality and quantity (generating qualified sales-ready leads): 41% of leaders find this very challenging
  3. Developing sales skills (driving and winning sales opportunities, driving account growth, consultative selling, filling the pipeline, negotiation, etc.): 40% of sales leaders find this very challenging
  4. Developing sales managers: 36% of sales leaders find this very challenging

Top 10 Sales Priorities

Not surprisingly, the top sales priorities are largely geared toward tackling the top challenges. Of 16 potential priorities, the following 10 rose to the top as "very important":

  1. Improve ability to communicate: 70%
  2. Improve productivity of sellers and sales teams: 65%
  3. Increase business with existing accounts: 64%
  4. Improve customer retention, repeat business, renewals: 62%
  5. Improve sales opportunity approach and planning: 61%
  6. Improves sellers' ability to inspire with ideas: 57%
  7. Win more against difficult competition: 56%
  8. Improve sales manager effectiveness: 54%
  9. Drive "new logos"/new accounts won: 53%
  10. Optimize our sales process: 53%

Along with these survey responses, we reviewed nearly 400 verbatim answers to the question:

"If you could propose and lead one new initiative—and senior leadership would approve and fund it in full—
what would that initiative be?"

  • A few mentioned recruiting improvement
  • Almost no one mentioned compensation
  • Some mentioned implementation of one technology or the other
  • Almost no one mentioned sales process optimization
  • Most commonly mentioned: sales and sales manager skill development

And one person said (verbatim), "Great question. Have to think about this."

As a result of this research, we've identified 3 sales enablement strategies you can focus on to achieve nearly all the top priorities and tackle the top sales challenges. These strategies are the topic of our report, Top Sales Leadership Challenges and Priorities

Interestingly, for those who can execute these initiatives well, you'll make the #1 challenge—recruiting top sales talent—much less important because you'll be developing your own top talent.

The top three recommendations for overcoming sales challenges and achieving priorities are:

  1. Improve Sales Productivity: Most productivity initiatives center around technology or process. The results companies achieve when they focus on the areas we outline achieve significantly stronger results than tech or process.
  2. Develop Multi-Skilled Sellers: Sales skill training is already a priority for many organizations, but flavor of the month is still rampant, long-term adoption of selling method is rare, and measurable results are elusive. We propose new thinking—from the vendor side (us) and the buyer side—to change this.
  3. Leverage Sales Managers: Buzz around sales management and coaching training is growing. Approaches for success still overly focus on sales opportunity and account strategy coaching, and coaching conversation training is geared more to executive coaching than what sellers need. Three of the five major roles of a sales coach are usually missing, or at best, treated anemically from most sales coaching programs.

If you're looking to dig into these 3 strategies in much greater detail, download our complimentary report, Top Sales Leadership Challenges and Priorities.

Download Now: Top Sales Leadership Challenges & Priorities

Topics: Sales Research Sales Management