A career in sales is challenging and not for everybody.  But effective salespeople are critical for growing your business. In this blog entry, we’re going to highlight five challenges that many salespeople struggle with. How can you help your team overcome them?

Listening.  Salespeople are known to be great talkers… but they can’t always listen.  Listening means more than just shutting up for a moment so the customer can get a few words in—listening means actively seeking to understand your customer.  The salesperson must figure out their needs and their personality… and then he can decide how to pitch to them.

Standing out.  A huge challenge for every salesperson is standing out from the crowd.  There is always somebody trying to sell something, and frankly, many people become irritated and don’t want to hear it.  The challenge for the salesman or woman is to figure out a way to break the stereotype and get the customer’s attention—and then they have a chance.

Variable Income.  Many sales jobs are commission based, which means that if you don’t make sales, you don’t get paid.  This can lead to extreme income shifts from month to month… one month may be great, but the next could be awful.  If you or your salespeople are largely dependent on this income, that can present a huge problem.  Living with variable income requires careful planning, budgeting, and great discipline.

Product Knowledge.  Surprisingly, many salespeople don’t take the time to truly study their product.  This means much more than memorizing a couple of talking points.  As a salesperson, you need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and anticipate their questions—and then make sure you have an answer for them!

Staying Positive.  Perhaps the greatest single challenge for a salesperson is staying positive.  You will deal with failure and rejection on a daily basis.  Even worse, many potential targets won’t even give you time to speak if they think you are going to sell them something.  They can be rude and condescending.  Long term success as a salesperson requires the ability to stay positive even when things are going badly—because nobody is going to make a purchase from a salesman in a bad mood.

The challenges we’ve discussed are some of the most difficult hurdles for any salesperson to cross. If you can overcome them (or help your team overcome them), you are well on your way to success.