Governance, Risk and Compliance

5 Risks that Keep Sales Leaders Up at Night

By Diana Buccella Modified September 20, 2021

Protecting your company against risk is critical to building resilience. That’s why you need to ensure that your team is accurately capturing, monitoring, and controlling your corporate risk factors.  With proper planning and response strategies, your company can survive and even thrive through adverse events, but many companies go unprepared.

But risk is not always about a single crisis event.

Sales teams face ongoing threats and obstacles that may contribute to sales failures. Most of these risks are avoidable or solvable with a data-driven approach to their practices. We’ve captured the top five risks for sales teams, and how you can assess, avoid, and respond to them. 

1. Inadequate Sales Strategy

Not understanding your market and your customers can result in an ineffective sales strategy. While your company probably wants to know its market and its customers, your research team may not be digging deeply enough into who your customers are, what they want, and the price they’ll pay for it. A team that relies on assumptions and guesses is a team at risk. Moreover, just because you knew your customers a few months or years ago, doesn’t mean you understand the playing field now. Frank Cespedes, Harvard Business School professor, says, “The market is doing what the market will do and sales must respond issue by issue and account by account.” Strategic planning is an ongoing process that is linked to research and is actionable in the field. 

Be sure to consistently check in on your strategic plan and confirm that you’re moving in the right direction and still on target. Ensure that your research is current and up-to-date. Prep your sales team with the tools they need to respond to the ever-changing market and customer evolution.

2. Profit and Sales Metrics

Collecting inaccurate or inadequate information regarding profit margins and/or sales prices pollutes your company’s data and affects the sales team’s performance. That’s because data is the most valuable currency in the new economy. Rich, accurate, easy-to-retrieve information is worth more than gold to a sales team. But much corporate data is inaccurate. “Poor-quality data is a huge problem,” said Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer at Forbes Media. “It leaves many companies trying to navigate the information age in the equivalent of a horse and buggy.” In fact, poor data may cost U.S. corporations as much as $3 trillion each year. Bad data regarding profit margins and sales prices skews the team’s ability to offer buyers the right product at the right price to net the profit margin the company needs. 

3. Sales and Marketing Alignment

Sales personnel are often unaware of marketing strategies or if they are, they may simply disregard them. Ray Meiring, CEO and Co-Founder of Quorus Software, writes, “We face this problem precisely because we wait until leads get to the bottom of the funnel before marketing and sales interact with each other. As a result, prospects are exposed to a disjointed handover.” When the sales team works hand-in-hand with marketing to create content, they help set customer expectations early on. Similarly, when marketing introduces lead scoring, it can help sales prioritize their follow up interactions. Many companies are also turning to account-based marketing, a strategy that aligns marketing and sales to focus on target accounts and then design a personalized campaign around those accounts.

We’ve identified the top risks for the most common departments in an organization. Read More

4. Sales Underperformance

According to Forbes, 57% of sales professionals miss their annual quotas. Experts attribute much of this underperformance to having too few opportunities in the pipeline. In other words, sales personnel are unaware of potential customers and other opportunities that can drive revenue. Some companies rely so heavily on virtual sales that they limit seasoned sales professionals’ opportunities from getting valuable face-to-face time with prospects and customers. Others depend too heavily on their team members’ soft skills without looking at hard data while others may forget to add a warm human touch to their data-based strategy. Both approaches can drive away prospects, reducing the flow of leads coming through the sales funnel. A data-driven but inspirational strategy leverages your team members’ strengths and ultimately keeps your sales professionals interacting with a high volume of prospects.

5. Inadequate Product Knowledge

Nothing kills a sale faster than a sales person who fumbles when asked to describe the product. Yet, sales staff often lack knowledge about the features and benefits of the product or service they sell. Not able to hold masterful conversations, these sales professionals leave prospective customers confused or ill-informed about their prospective purchase. In some cases, a sales person may know the product but not be able to see its benefits from the customer’s perspective, and that can be just as damaging. Your company can fight the risk of inadequate sales knowledge through improved information dissemination and training.

Regular product training is a vital part of the sales strategy. Evaluating the knowledge base and being able to respond to any gaps or weaknesses will enable your sales team to be more confident and drive more revenue. 

Avoiding or mitigating risk is an important part of building a resilient business. By capturing, monitoring, and controlling risks, you can improve your sales team’s performance and help your company further its mission.

How Software Can Help You Manage Risks

Resolver’s risk management software helps risk managers and owners easily manage their risk environment by adding, updating and describing risks that could impact the organization’s goals.

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About the Author

Diana is the Content Marketing Manager at Resolver.