construction_barriersThis past spring’s SiriusDecisions Summit was the usual fire hose of great content, and one of the highlights in my mind were the recurring discussions of sales enablement and effectiveness. Throughout the general sessions and breakouts, various speakers covered multiple angles for now sales & marketing professionals can increase the efficiency and productivity of the salesforce.

On the first day, John Neeson covered his view of the five greatest inhibitors of sales effectiveness. On his list were:

1. Inability to communicate a value message
Sell the hole, not the drill. If you can’t get to the heart of what the buyer cares about, independent of you and what you’re physically selling, it will be extremely difficult to differentiate, create value and convert.

2. Subject matter expertise of the industry or solution
Do you adequately understand the context into which your product or solution will be used? Can you build rapport and trust with the prospect by speaking to the industry in which they live and breathe every day?

3. Insufficient leads
Quantity and quality are both at play here. Most sales teams don’t have nearly enough leads to work with, not based on quantity, but based on those that are the right people, at the right organizations, and interested in having a qualified discussions. These Sales Qualified Leads are often few and far between.

4. Too many products or offerings to understand
Can your sales organization navigate the products and services you offer to make the right match with the buyer’s problems and objectives? Does your salesforce spend so much time trying to understand and interpret your catalog, that they fail to figure out how any of that matters to the prospect?

5. Sales skill gaps
Selling skills, independent of the product or industry or buyer context, are too often lacking. There’s too often little focus on improving these skills, either at kick-off meetings and one-off training events or on an ongoing, regular basis.

Later in his keynote, Neeson quoted some Sirius research that asked buyers what a salesperson can do to earn their trust. The top two answers:

  • Demonstrate expertise on my industry (35%)
  • Demonstrate deep expertise about my company (33%)

Note that these answers preceded expertise about the very products and services you may sell. If you understand the hole, you have the trust and context to present the drill as a solution.