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5 sales management pain points - and how to solve them

August 26, 2021

Managing a B2B sales team - we know it’s a tough gig.

From people management to working with tech and making sure your team’s hitting its targets, all sorts of things can happen to really frak up your day.

But you’ve got to keep a cool head. Every problem you encounter can be fixed. It’s just a matter of knowing what the solution is.

We spoke with a bunch of SaaS sales leaders. They gave us some incredible feedback on the most common pain points they face and how they’d go about rectifying them.

Scroll through the menu and let Cognism take your pain away 👇

Your reps aren’t speaking with the right customers | Your reps aren’t connecting with prospects | Your team’s email campaigns are underperforming | Sales and marketing aren’t aligned | You don’t have enough time! | Ace sales management with Cognism

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1 - Your reps aren’t speaking with the right customers 🤷

What’s the number thing that outbound sales depends on?

You guessed it - customers!

But not just any customers. You need to find the right customers, the people who will get the most benefit out of using your solution.

Sales teams can waste days or even weeks searching for those people. It’s a common pain point for managers - how to find more best-fit customers in less time.

Will Gay, Cognism’s Senior Account Executive, says this should only take 5 minutes.

Impossible, you might think!

Not so - it’s simply a case of equipping your team with effective tools to get them working as efficiently as possible.

Will explained:

“Cognism can gather thousands of contacts with emails and mobile numbers for your team in 5 minutes.”

In B2B prospecting, time literally is money. Anything that will help your reps speed up the less glamorous tasks - allowing them to focus on more business-critical activities like calling, negotiating and closing - has got to be good.

With more time at their disposal, your reps will be empowered to reach out to more decision-makers, open up more opportunities and deliver more revenue for the company.

So the bottom line is - let tech take care of lead generation, and let your reps take care of the important stuff!

2 - Your reps aren’t connecting with prospects 📵

The pandemic has changed everything for salespeople.

Offices have been shuttered for well over a year. The decision-makers who’d normally be the first people at their desks in the morning are now working remotely.

It’s harder than ever to reach people.

Catherine Gardner, Account Executive at Cognism, told us:

“A lot of sales teams are still wasting time calling switchboards. Mobiles are what your reps need to be calling!”

“The first thing you need to do, as a manager, is identify if this is happening, and how often. Identifying a pain point in your team is just like identifying a pain point for a prospect. Take a step back, ask open-ended questions and then provide solutions.”

Catherine gave us a list of questions to ask your reps:

  • How often are you able to source a direct number?
  • Where are you sourcing your numbers?
  • How much of your time is wasted calling non-direct numbers?
  • What impact is not calling direct numbers having on your KPIs?

Catherine said:

“We want to home in on the manual labour and the time this takes. Time wasted adds up. Your reps need to be calling decision-makers directly to save time and get the pitch done right. Your chances of converting from a mobile are far higher than that of a switchboard.” 

Will Gay agreed:

“Since people moved to working from home, the average time to reach someone over an HQ phone is well over 20 minutes of dialling. Many businesses still don’t have the ability to pass your rep through to the person they need to be talking to.”

“On a mobile, those 20 minutes can turn into five. People increasingly need mobile phone numbers to reach their prospects or suffer the consequences of missed targets and low staff morale.”

Key takeaways here are:

  1. Find out if your team’s calling the wrong numbers and how often.
  2. Ensure your team’s calling only mobile numbers, not switchboards.
  3. Agree on new targets based on conversions from mobile conversations.

3 - Your team’s email campaigns are underperforming 📥

Two persistent pain points that sales teams face are low responses and conversions from email campaigns.

As a manager, how can you help your team overcome this?

Again, you have to dig into the root of the problem. Where are the blockers coming from?

Just like when you talk to a prospect on a cold call, you have to uncover the pain in your team by asking questions.

Catherine suggests asking the following:

  • Is it due to a lack of a new audience? Are your reps recycling the same contacts in their database every time?
  • Is it due to bad quality data? Are your reps sending their emails to obsolete or inaccurate addresses?
  • Is it a lack of contacts or a depleted database? Are your reps able to A/B test different messaging in their campaigns and learn from this?
  • What are their lead/MQL targets? Are they reaching them? If not, how close are they to reaching them? How realistic are those targets?

When sales emails underperform, it’s usually down to one of two things:

  1. Your reps are working with bad sales data; their messages aren’t landing in the right inboxes.
  2. The content of your reps’ messages isn’t right; either the emails aren’t personalised or the pitch isn’t relevant to the prospect.

The first problem is relatively easy to fix. Make sure the data in your CRM is fully up-to-date. If you need to, investigate an email list provider who can refresh your database automatically.

The second problem is more a question of education. Why not start by watching this guide to crafting the perfect sales email, presented by Cognism’s Enterprise Account Exec, Alex Shorthose?

 

4 - Sales and marketing aren’t aligned 😕

Every sales manager worth a dime will know:

While B2B marketing and sales are separate teams working on separate projects, it’s essential that they’re aligned.

Why so?

Because it’s a must if you want your team and your company to consistently surpass target. According to Review42, firms with aligned marketing and sales teams are 67% more efficient at closing deals.

Patrick Connolly, our Head of US Sales Development, said:

“You’re going to have multiple departments involved in your success. If you want them to be invested, you’ve got to have their metrics aligned to those outcomes, especially between the sales and marketing teams.”

As a sales leader, you can make sure the teams are aligned by:

  • Sharing results and aligning on goals each month.
  • Organising regular catch-ups between sales and marketing.
  • Sharing wins and new tactics between both teams.
  • Getting your team to make use of the materials (e.g.: blogs, whitepapers, one-pagers, videos) that marketing creates.
  • Getting your team to collaborate with marketing when creating cold calling scripts or email cadences.

5 - You don’t have enough time! ⌚

Time management is a common problem for sales leaders, as Rachel Goldstone, SDR Manager at Cognism, identified:

“My number one challenge is time management. Especially when you’re managing a large team - you have to set expectations and ensure that your team knows what needs to be prioritised.”

Hugh Campbell, fellow SDR Manager at Cognism, agreed:

“It’s definitely something I’ve struggled with. I manage 10 people and there are always going to be stronger and weaker performers. Everyone has their own problems and challenges.”

How does Hugh prioritise?

“My solution is simply doing one thing at a time. Don’t have too many plates spinning! Help one person, fix one problem, then move onto the next one. I also leave my stronger performers to it, to an extent, because what they do clearly works. This gives me the time to focus my attention on the weaker performers.”

Ace sales management with Cognism 🚀

We know we’ve barely scratched the surface of the challenges that sales managers deal with.

Get all the tips, tricks and hacks you’ll need to make a success of managing a sales team. From setting goals and KPIs to perfecting cold calls and demos, it’s all in Cognism’s latest eBook.

Click 👇 to leave no stone unturned!

Sales Strategy eBook