Addressing Today’s Top 6 Sales Challenges with Digitization

High inflation, expected interest rate hikes, lingering supply chain issues and the threat of recession are putting sales teams in a tough spot in 2023. If your sales leaders are suffering from these obstacles, you’re not alone.

But there’s still room for cautious optimism, with leaders at Davos’ World Economic Forum proclaiming, “the year ahead looks better than feared for the global economy but remains fraught with risks….”

Despite this volatile selling environment, sales leaders are still setting ambitious goals for this year. According to Gartner, the top priorities for chief sales officers (CSOs) include:

  • Improving sales manager effectiveness
  • Improving pipeline creation
  • Investing in the sales development function to generate pipeline
  • Improving account management

To achieve these lofty goals, CSOs need to digitize key selling processes to give sellers more time to support customers. Here are the top six challenges sales leaders must tackle to achieve sales success.

Sales challenges: poor data access and manual processes top the list

1. Sales teams are stretched thin

Organizations across many industries are downsizing their sales and administrative staff, shackling those remaining with more territory to cover, multiple sales enablement tools to manage, and less administrative help and support for often inefficient tasks like generating and managing the agreement process. A recent report shows that 39 percent of companies use more than five sales tools, and 86 percent of users get confused about which tool to use for which task, leading to wasted time and effort.

2. An evolving work environment

Over the past three years, remote and hybrid work have become standard in many industries. Sales has led the trend, with 96 percent of B2B sales consulting teams switching to remote selling, either entirely or partially. Moreover, 65 percent of business-to-business leaders found remote work to be as effective as the traditional, pre-pandemic work environment.

But to successfully incorporate remote and hybrid work into the sales process, organizations must have the right tools and technology that enable sales professionals to communicate seamlessly within the organization and directly with their customers and prospects.

3. Limited sales enablement and marketing support

Sales professionals need access to a robust library of sales enablement tools and content to effectively source and close deals. But too often, they don’t receive the benefit of a regular stream of fresh, relevant content to help generate a steady, active lead pipeline and support them at every stage of the sales cycle.

One measure of the size of this issue is that 41 percent of sales leaders cited “messaging” as their top challenge, according to the 2020 Sales Development Representative Benchmark Survey, indicating insufficient support from marketing and enablement teams. The result is that many sales professionals are left to create their marketing communications, which results in a preponderance of non-qualified leads and poor conversion rates.

4. Poor data access and quality control 

Lack of access to data and disorganized governance can lead to sales contracting errors, resulting in a poor customer experience and delayed sales closings, effectively leaving money on the table.

A DocuSign survey of over 1,300 contracting professionals found that over 96 percent of respondents reported that human error impacts their current contracting process, with almost half saying it happens often. Because of the needless complications, delays and inefficiencies introduced by manual work, less than half of contracting professionals consider their existing system reliable or efficient.

5. Inadequate onboarding, training and coaching

A poor onboarding experience for sales staff leads to shorter tenure and higher turnover rates. This is a big issue for sales organizations challenged to find and retain productive professionals. According to CareerBuilder, 36 percent of companies don’t have a structured onboarding process, choosing to focus on initial orientation instead of long-term employee development and success.

When factoring in a standard ramp-up time of three to six months, the typical sales professional provides less than a year of optimum productivity before leaving the organization. This places enormous pressure on sales leaders to implement an effective, ongoing training and coaching program to ensure they maximize productivity on the front lines and achieve an adequate return on investment (ROI) for each employee.

6. Arcane, manual processes

Too many sales organizations have been hampered by slow digital transformation. Outdated processes and legacy technology create bottlenecks in the sales process, resulting in sales team frustration, costly errors, delayed closings and, ultimately, missed sales quotas.

Despite the availability of modern sales-tracking and deal-routing methods like marketing automation platforms and native assignment rules in CRM software, the leading method for routing leads is still overwhelmingly manual across most industries. Recent research has shown that 1 in 3 B2B organizations still use manual processes to move sales and marketing data across tools.

Digitization can streamline processes and reduce errors

There’s no single solution to help sales leaders overcome these daunting challenges. But technology has dramatically evolved in recent years, giving CSOs multiple options for streamlining sales processes and reducing or eliminating time-consuming, redundant manual steps.

Through robust integrations and application programming interfaces (APIs), sales teams can now access every critical document, application and support collateral within the platform they’re already familiar with and working in daily.

One area ripe for transformation is document and contract management, which remains a significant part of every sales professional’s job. On average, 80 percent of enterprise sales teams execute over 500 contracts each month, and for many, this process is still filled with complex, manual steps that can result in critical errors and delays in closings.

DocuSign helps sales teams fully automate the agreement process, from custom contract generation and signatures to business workflows and document analysis. Sales professionals can now close deals with just a click inside the customer relationship management (CRM) system they already use, creating a seamless, frictionless process for customers and the sales team.

Organizations are already using contract management solutions to solve several problems, but the most common benefits are contract generation, accuracy and analysis. These gains are frequently realized by a human-machine partnership that automates repetitive tasks and enhances human decision-making during the contracting process.

Go from leads to cash faster with DocuSign

DocuSign—the market leader for e-signature and contract lifecycle management solutions—helps digitally transform how sales teams operate, from onboarding staff to automating manual processes and interacting with prospects and customers. With more than a dozen products and over 400 integrations, DocuSign solutions address the entire agreement process, helping sales teams focus on accelerating their quote-to-cash journey and closing deals. 

To learn more about addressing today’s sales challenges by digitizing your contract lifecycle management processes, download our latest eBook: How Digitization Can Help Address Today’s Top Sales Challenges.

Meaghan Riley
GVP, Enterprise and Commercial Sales, North America
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