5 Obstacles High-Level Sales Reps Must Overcome

In an eBook by sales training and coaching company, SG Partners, called Best Practice to Recruiting The Hardest Role in the Company, they talk about the difficulties involved with being a salesperson. It’s a reminder that this role is highly challenging, and being successful demands a person that possesses the right hard and soft skills. 

With that said, we’re about to take a close look at five specific obstacles high-level sales reps must overcome so you’ll have a better idea of what to look for when assessing candidates. 

Let’s jump right in. 

1. Competition

For starters, most sales reps face an immense amount of competition. Take SaaS companies for example. As of mid-2020, there were over 15,500 SaaS companies in the world. And although the number of these brands has cooled off a bit over the past three years, it’s definitely a saturated market. 

So, often the biggest obstacle is simply having an original unique value proposition (something that’s becoming more difficult, by the way) and an approach that helps your brand stand out from the competition. 

These days, the most successful reps tend to take on the role of consultant and trusted advisor rather than having an overly aggressive “sell, sell, sell” approach. They also have a genuine passion for their industry and product, which naturally shines through when they’re interacting with leads and giving product demos. 

The bottom line is that high-level sales reps have a knack for preventing your company from getting lumped into the crowd and have a likable personality that leads are receptive to. 

2. Hostility From New Prospects

SG Partners mentions that salespeople will “encounter hostility from new prospects that view their presence as an unnecessary interruption to their day. They must venture into a marketplace where prospects are time poor and often rushed, irritated, disinterested, or even hostile.”

And that’s an excellent point. Often, it doesn’t take much for a conversation to go in a negative direction, where a new prospect becomes openly hostile, especially when cold calling. If they’re caught off guard and adamantly against making a purchase, things can get ugly in a hurry. 

Therefore, a high-level sales rep must be able to disarm the situation — something that’s best done using “friendly strength.” Rather than being passive and immediately waving the white flag or returning the prospect’s hostility with their own hostility, friendly strength is where a rep combines the confidence in their product with their knowledge and expertise to steer the conversation in a more pleasant direction. 

For more on friendly strength and how it can be used to win over more prospects, check out this post by sales enablement evangelist Josh Harcus in Forbes

3. Objections From Leads

SG Partners also points out that a high-level salesperson “must persuade people to purchase from their company” — something that often requires them to overcome a gauntlet of objections. These can run the gamut, but according to Bryan Gonzalez of HubSpot, there are seven common sales objections that reps encounter most frequently. 

And let’s face it. Formulating an intelligent response, let alone one that instantly slashes through objections from a highly skeptical lead, can be incredibly difficult. So, you need a sales rep that can put themselves in a lead’s shoes and effectively quell their concerns, while putting their mind at ease. 

Possessing this ability takes time, experience, knowledge, confidence, and the right diplomatic touch. While much of it can be learned, overcoming sales objections is something that some reps are naturally more skilled at than others, which is why you should ask what their approach is to handling objections during an interview. 

4. Rejection

It should go without saying that being a sales rep is a position that requires some thick skin. As SG Partners puts it, “they will face rejection on almost a daily basis. There is no selling without rejection and salespeople will face this as they attempt to develop new business for the company.”

A high-level sales rep will have the ability to handle rejection, deal with it, and move on without it ruining their day. They’ll also be able to ensure that it doesn’t “kill their vibe” as they transition to speaking with other leads. It’s like a football quarterback being able to pick themself up and dust themself off after throwing an interception and get right back in the game. 

In short, a high-level sales rep will have the resilience and “short-term memory” needed to persevere even with chronic rejection.

5. Complacency

Finally, even the most rockstar of sales reps will likely battle complacency at some point. In fact, you could argue that this can be a bigger issue for elite sales reps as opposed to mediocre ones because of the level of success that they have. 

It’s human nature to go into “cruise control” when things are going our way. And when a rep gets massive results where they’re on fire, making sale after sale, it’s easy for them to cool off where they lose some of their drive. But the top salespeople will realize when they’re going this route and kick it into the next gear. 

While they’ll remain continually confident, they’ll also be wired to always look for areas of improvement, no matter how minor they may be. 

Overcoming Obstacles to Unlock a Rep’s True Potential 

Selling is easy, said no one ever. It’s a career that’s fraught with difficulties and one that only a small handful of individuals truly thrive in. 

In fact, exhaustive research from Objective Management Group found that only 6% of sales reps are elite performers

The five challenges listed above are some of the biggest that high-level sales reps must overcome, and having the ability to do so should always be on your radar when assessing candidates

For more on this topic and other tips for better recruiting, check out Best Practice to Recruiting The Hardest Role in the Company by SG Partners. 

And to learn about common mistakes CEOs and sales leaders make when recruiting, check out The Top 5 Reasons You Are Failing at Recruiting Consistently Great Sales Teams

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