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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Mar 1, 2018 8 min read

8 Top Sales Challenges in 2018, According to Research

{}As 2018 continues to ramp up speed and roll out, there are many sales challenges that businesses will continue to face (or, in some cases, start to see more prevalently). Preparing for and learning to strategically overcome these challenges will mean the difference between success and failure.

To help prepare your company for the transforming landscape, gathered here are eight of the top sales challenges research concluded would cause companies and sales professionals the most trouble during 2018. Be prepared for them.

1. Prospecting

In today’s markets, there’s an ever-increasing need to direct resources wisely. To that end, professional sellers are learning to create targeted prospect strategies. The old methods of targeting potential customers are falling to the wayside, as more sophisticated sales automation tools prompt a change in ways.

Professional sellers are working on honing their ability to not just find viable prospects but to find the right stakeholders at these companies. Professionals are realizing that, in order to make sales, they need to learn to identify the decision makers, as well as the triggers and sales signals that mean a prospect is on track to purchase.

In previous years, “gaining appointments” topped the prospecting column, but this goal fell off this year, signifying that sellers are now looking for the right appointments, not just any appointment.

2. Customer Needs

Regardless of your prospect, uncovering everything you can regarding their decision-making process is important to your ability to close the sale. Data shows sellers continue to recognize this as an ongoing challenge from previous years. This is also linked to another concern regarding customer needs: value.

As buyers gain access to a lot of the same information professional sellers have thanks to the internet, the challenge becomes creating value for a customer. Prospects need to feel that you have value and insights to offer in the buying cycle; otherwise. they are likely to skip you entirely to make a purchase. By understanding more of your prospect’s situation, you are better able to draw conclusions between their needs and your products.

This can also be helpful when dealing with the third customer need challenge—removing misconceptions regarding the client’s perceived challenge. In other words, help clients see their core problem, and deal with that.

3. Negotiations

When it comes to negotiations in 2018, all the concerns revolve around pricing. This includes closing a sale with a higher price while also maintaining control throughout negotiations.

Many professional buyers are finding it difficult to maintain margins when customers are able to leverage alternative solutions. The ease at which a competitor can be researched and propositioned for low-cost solutions means more and more concessions have to be made, affecting final sales.

The challenge of finding win-win dealsoften leads to further concessions to maintain momentum, but it ultimately affects revenue.

4. Buyer’s Decisions

Understanding your prospects and their needs is important to successfully closing a deal. But data suggests that, as clients are given more and more options, choice actually becomes overwhelming and inertia sets in. Instead of making one decision among a dozen, clients instead choose to stick with the status quo (a death sentence to a deal in which a seller is attempting to sell something new).

The buyer’s decision is also slowing down; more clients are comparing their options to determine the best ROI for their businesses. They are searching for solutions that will best fit their situations and solutions.

At the same time, more and more stakeholders are becoming attached to the decision process, making a need to build internal consensus necessary, as well as the need for solutions to satisfy various goals throughout a client’s organization.

5. Managing Accounts

The balance between sales and relationship management is becoming more and more difficult for sales reps. While there is pressure to bring in more sales, the speed and quantity of new sales with the help of technology and new techniques means there is less time for account management—which is increasingly becoming a necessary part of every deal.

Complex solutions to close deals need a deeper relationship between sales rep and client, making professionals “trusted advisors.” This is ultimately a good thing, as companies that build trust improve results.

But finding the time to understand the nuances of a client’s business and provide solutions in a lengthening sales cycle means managing accounts will be a major difficulty in 2018.

6. Selling Skills

When it comes to skills, the number-one concern on professional sellers’ minds is how to ask insightful and relevant questionsto understand clients’ needs. With more competition, the need to stand out is greater.

As discussed in customer needs, reps need to define the value of working with them. With solutions becoming commodities and buyers becoming more cost-averse, the ability to deliver compelling value is essential.

Recognizing the need for insightful questions, many reps also noted “being well-prepared” as an important developmental skill.

7. Preserving Margins

Pricing pressure, from the needs of your company as well as the desires of your clients, means sales reps are constantly walking a tightrope between making/keeping a sale and ensuring the price is worth the cost. Pricing is going up, which can often affect a previously won sale.

In order to ensure your company isn’t going to lose more than it can afford by raising prices (when it becomes necessary), sales reps recognize the need to work on relationships. High engagement scores often translate into growth for a company, as Gallup reports determined.

8. Team Selling

Finally, as 2018 continues, many sales teams are learning the value of team selling. As more and more decision makers become invested in a sale, it becomes nearly impossible for one rep to maintain the deal. An entire team is needed to carry and close, but an effective team is not made up of just strong individuals. Sales reps must have systems in place to support team selling, just as the members need to embrace the concept as well.

A need to foster a climate of collaboration from the start of a potential sale prevents the deal from stalling and allows a team of reps to keep momentum. The fluidity of schedules means a reliance on technology and trust in your fellow reps are required when it comes to closing deals.

According to research, these will be the top eight sales challenges businesses and professional sellers will face in 2018. If you want your company and sales teamsto stay ahead of the curve, learn to overcome these challenges early in order to accomplish your 2018 business goals.


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.