[Research] 11 Barriers To Sales and How To Solve Them

Inbound Marketing

inbound sales barriers

Looking at HubSpot Sales Perception data, we explore common sales challenges, and how to address them the Inbound sales way. 

11 Barriers To Sales and How To Solve Them

Closing a sale requires a lot of work and problem solving.

Regardless of your sales process and whether you’re using a traditional or an Inbound sales approach, your sales team likely reports a range of barriers; from difficulties connecting with prospects, to receiving poor quality leads.

But while there is no complete cure for all sales problems, there are ways to minimise and address prime challenges. Below we reviewed research from HubSpot’s 2016 Sales Perception Survey to identify the top challenges sales staff are experiencing, and explored how to address them the Inbound way.


How Can Inbound Sales Ease Sales Challenges?

Essentially, with information.


An Inbound sales process equips sales teams with complete historical lead data, enabling initial lead conversations to be informed by marketing insight. This allows sales teams to better understand the challenges their prospects are facing and their position in the Buyer’s Journey. Plus sales reps can gain clarity on the right marketing resources and assets to use to educate and nurture leads.


As a result, adopting an Inbound sales mindset in your sales strategy can minimise barriers, and encourage more effective conversations.


Barrier To Sales: 11 Top Sales Challenges and How To Solve Them

1. Difficulty establishing urgency

42% of sales staff find establishing urgency a challenge. 

Demonstrating to your prospects that you not only understand their challenges but can provide a solution to address them and bring tangible results, will go a long way toward establishing urgency.


Below are a few points that can help establish urgency. But remember that by no means will all buyers be immediately ready to buy, whatever you do. It’s crucial that sales teams work to the buyer’s timeline for purchase, and recognise the length of their own organisation’s sales cycle, rather than trying to rush leads to close to meet business timelines.


Tips to enhance urgency:


  • Use the prospect's revenue and financial goals to help them stay on track with targets and maintain focus on their commercial challenge. In some cases, our Inbound ROI calculator can help you establish those initial financial and revenue goals.
  • Outline the specific benefits of your services in relation to prospect pain. Make sure conversations continue to explore and address that pain deeper.
  • Make the most of case study examples of similar situations.
  • Detail the pros and cons of your solution and make sure your buyer is well educated in why your solution is the most relevant and fitting for them. By helping the prospect through their own barriers to purchase, sales teams can build a level of trust.
  • Take the prospect’s Buyer’s Journey stage into consideration. Sharing Decision stage information with an Awareness stage lead won’t urge them to buy, it will just put them off.
  • Make sure you have lead nurture campaigns set up to keep your brand front of mind through the sales cycle, always sharing relevant helpful advice.
  • Don’t be tempted to go back to traditional or legacy sales habits and used limited offer discounts or promotions. If you’ve done your job well, your prospect will buy when ready!


2. Difficulty getting in touch with prospects

37% of sales staff find it hard to build a connection with prospects.

If you find prospects put down the phone, delete your emails and unsubscribe the second they realise they’re speaking with sales staff, then social selling activity is your new best friend.

The Inbound methodology does away with tactics like cold calling; instead of blasting leads with scripted pitches, it uses activity like nurture workflows and social selling to build personalised relationships. As a result, sales staff become established as trusted advisors who can educate, inform and nurture prospects through the sales funnel.  

  • Earn the attention and trust of buyers by starting personalised, valuable conversations that address pain at the appropriate Buyer’s Journey stage.
  • When appropriate, connect with leads and prospects using social networks.
  • Make sure sales staff have an active social presence, share your organisation’s awareness content, and use group conversations, comments and chats to share information relevant to your business niche.
  • Have sales teams monitor social for triggers to connect, or offer advice.
  • Make sure you have a lead nurture campaign running; send emails from your socially active sales staff to leads and cement that thought-leader trust.


3. Prospects struggle with the product price

35% of sales staff struggle to close effective sales as a result of the product’s price.

If your leads don’t have the budget for your services, or are seriously hampered by the required investment, it may be that you are targeting and qualifying the wrong buyers.

When developing your buyer personas it’s important to take into account the budget that buyers will need access to, and use this as a qualifying lead point. Get your persona targeting right, and qualify leads correctly, and product price should become less of a sticking point.

If prospect budget is not an issue but cost is still a barrier, it may be that your prospect does not quite understand the benefits of the solution in relation to their challenge. Continue to educate and nurture these leads until they are ready to buy.

4. The sales cycle is too long

24% of sales staff say their sales cycle is too long.

Going back to our ‘urgency’ point, remember that it’s important to work realistically with the length of your sales cycle (account for this when planning your Inbound campaign), and work with buyer’s own purchasing timelines rather than aiming to rush sales through.

That said, educating leads by providing buyer mapped content at the right times can help nurture them through the sales funnel more efficiently.

An Inbound sales process will not necessarily reduce the sales cycle but, if followed correctly, can improve conversion rates.

5. Stakeholders can’t agree on purchase

Sales say that 21% of stakeholders can’t agree on purchase.

By the time your prospect speaks with sales, it’s likely that they will have received some of your content (eBooks, blogs, whitepapers etc.), so will be well on their way toward a decision. But closing the deal may require more persuasive tactics, especially if multiple stakeholders are involved.

To help stakeholders come to a decision, be sure to outline the value of your product (short and long term), and importantly, provide ROI information where possible. This may be supported by free product trials, demonstrations, case studies, and referrals from existing clients - whatever you can use to prove the value and unique selling points of your services in relation to their challenges. 

6. Sales has a low connect rate with prospects

21% of Sales staff report a low connect rate.

Achieving a valuable connection with a prospect can take time. The premise of an Inbound process is to develop and nurture connections to build trust which, through time, results in qualified leads and strong relationships.

Pursuing and prioritising connection with active buyers (rather than passive) - buyers who are looking for a solution for their pain - will help to build sales/lead trust here, as will social selling activity and lead nurture campaigns.

7. Prospects don’t see the value in the product

19% say prospects don’t see the value in the product.

Proving value is a process. It is achieved through sharing information that outlines benefit; that lead challenges to product solutions.

Recognise that it may take time for buyers to recognise value in a product, and that you will likely need multiple content types and nurture conversations to really cement the pain-solving value of your product to your lead.

8. Sales teams lose deals to competitors

18% of sales say they lose deals to their competition.

What makes your solution unique and the best fit for your buyers?

Your competitors will likely be following similar selling strategies as you, so to stay ahead, make sure you’re building that trusted relationship and really understand lead’s unique needs.

Don’t be afraid to help leads explore their competitive options either; examine the pros and cons of your solution to ensure it’s the best option, and be sure to show where you can add extra value by conducting vendor comparisons.

9. Sales tools are not integrated with the CRM and leads are poor quality

17% of Sales teams report that tools are not integrated with the CRM and that leads are poor quality.

Although Inbound sales tactics can work with a range of tools, investing in a closed loop marketing automation platform (such as HubSpot) will help align marketing and sales, and provide the lead data you need to target the right buyers, then prioritise, qualify and sell to them.

Marketing and sales working together to identify and target a defined buyer persona is key, whether you can currently align your tools and CRM, or not. Both marketing and sales must know the traits that define good leads to target and qualify for marketing campaigns and sales conversations to be relevant and successful.

10. Sales teams don’t have enough information about prospects

13% sales report they do not have enough information about the prospect.

Aligning marketing and sales will resolve this problem. By implementing a closed-loop marketing automation platform, sales can gain access to and track historical marketing data on leads.

This provides visibility on all communication and interaction a lead has had with the business; from that first conversion the website, to the content they have seen, emails, calls, social interactions and more. This gives sales teams the best possible footing to progress further.

11. Sales reps don’t have enough training or support to sell the product

5% of reps say they do not have enough training or support.

If sales teams don’t understand the benefits and ins-and-outs of your product and services, they won’t be able to sell effectively!

However. As you should be regularly creating a range of educational, helpful content that addresses your buyer’s challenges at each purchasing stage, you may already have some solid resources to sharpen your sales team’s knowledge. Get teams in the habit of digesting your own marketing resources - and if you really want to start selling the Inbound way, consider having them take HubSpot’s Inbound Sales Certification.