Top challenges faced by SME leaders in 2018 – Challenge #1: Suffering from a lack of visibility?

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For some, the New Year brings with it a renewed sense of energy and optimism with the batteries fully recharged. Or perhaps the reality of the challenge ahead is starting to come into focus as the hangover from Christmas wears off.

Either way, we thought we would take a look back at some of the most common sales-related challenges faced by SME leaders last year and help you to navigate them in 2019.

Through this series of short articles, we will take each challenge in turn and discuss practical steps you can take to deal with these.

The Challenge – Lack of visibility

By far and away the biggest challenge for SME leaders last year was a lack of visibility of the sales pipeline – or worse – a misleading view of the sales position.

A clear, reliable view of the current position is key if a leader is to galvanise resources effectively.

We often see organisations focused on creating as many new sales opportunities as possible, when a closer inspection of the sales pipeline reveals that a better approach would be to concentrate on converting and maximising existing opportunities.

Equally, the opposite can be true. The sales team project an overly optimistic view of the future, and in doing so reduce the emphasis on the need for day-to-day sales activity.

This sets the business up for unnecessary and avoidable challenges later on.

How can this be resolved? These are our top tips…

  • Revisit your sales cycle categories

Make sure they are unambiguous, not open to interpretation and understood by all (including key personnel from other departments). Define specific criteria that need to be met in order to classify an opportunity at each stage.

  • Perform a robust audit of all opportunities according to these sales cycle categories

Get rid of those large, early-stage opportunities which provide a false sense of comfort. Cut the sales pipeline right back to see what it looks like when you only include opportunities which are being actively managed. Beware, it might look bleak, but this is the baseline position you should build from.

  • Avoid too many sales cycle categories

Opportunities will accumulate in the middle of the pipeline as your sales personnel want to show that they have a lot going on but are reluctant to commit to the numbers.

Look out for our next article – Measuring the wrong things (and making bad decisions as a result)

Next time, we will discuss the second of our 7 most common sales-related challenges last year – measuring the wrong things. We will discuss the common measurement pitfalls SME leaders faced in 2018 and offer some guidance to deal with these in the year ahead.

To receive the rest of our key challenges facing SME leaders in 2018 (along with other helpful sales-related tips) directly to your inbox, subscribe to our Members List.

Do you have the tools you need for 2019?

BMC has provided sales performance services to business leaders and stakeholders for over 15 years. We quickly get clarity over your businesses real position, then focus on the areas which will have the most immediate impact on sales performance.

Contact our team today to learn more about how you can achieve better visibility of your business’s sales pipeline and lead your team to success in 2019.

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