The Internal Reason Why Sales Deals Stall

Sales reps report that 20% of stalled and lost deals are a result of overly complex internal policies and procedures.

Many, if not most, B2B organizations have run “customer experience improvement” initiatives in the past few years. And they have had good reason to do so, as it’s clear that sales reps and teams who make it easier for customers to buy products outsell their competitors, according to CEB, now Gartner, data.

But many businesses have not put nearly as much thought into ways to improve the experience of their own sales reps, and recent research shows that this likely to be a big mistake. There is arguably no function more important or more relevant to creating that crucial connection to customers than a company’s own sales team. Given that sellers interact with customers every day, it stands to reason that the quality of the experiences created for reps will affect the quality of the experience they in turn create for customers.

The majority of sellers attribute their job frustrations and feelings of burden to their own sales organization

Simplify the seller experience

Analysis of data from over 2,000 sellers shows it is critical that sales teams start thinking more carefully and deliberately about the “seller experience” — how sellers experience their jobs through the interactions they have with the rest of the sales organization.

The analysis also shows that a negative seller experience directly translates to financial losses for a company. High levels of perceived seller burden are demonstrably destructive to sales productivity. Specifically, sellers working in high-burden organizations have a 12% lower conversion rate than sellers who don’t.

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Improve internal processes

Worse yet, CEB, now Gartner, analysis shows that overly complex internal processes and procedures increase the burden on sales reps by 62%, and overly complex products by 9%. This means that the majority of sellers attribute their job frustrations and feelings of burden to their own sales organization. In fact, the same analysis indicates that, across a range of industries and regions, a full 20% of stalled and lost deals are the result of internal complexity.

Senior sales managers should be asking themselves how sellers on their teams would characterize the seller experience. Better yet, to get a better understanding of their company’s “seller experience,” they should ask their sellers.

Once they have a better understanding of that experience, sales managers should take four steps:

  1. Focus selling support on high-impact activities: Identify the specific moments where both sellers struggle the most and where the cost of not succeeding commercially is highest. Then deliberately spend the most time and money on supporting these steps in the process.
  2. Reduce non-sales distractions: Sales teams will often find themselves getting requests from all over the organization — anything from completing surveys, to helping with marketing initiatives, to attending training. Initiate a formal process for any requests for sellers’ time that don’t involve core sales tasks. Assign a monetary value to seller time if that helps people make the right decisions.
  3. Streamline seller workflow: Map all workflows and identify the root causes of major problems in the sales process. Once you have this process mapped out, you can prioritize your improvement efforts.
  4. Ease resource navigation: Today’s world of complex selling has produced a seemingly endless array of seller support resources, so much so that navigating the resources designed to increase seller effectiveness has itself become burdensome. Small investments in helping sellers navigate these resources can pay big dividends.

Gartner for Sales Leaders clients can read the full report, Sales Productivity in the New Work Environment.