- SELL SMARTER
8 Barriers to Efficiency For Commercial Service Sales Professionals
Commercial services sales teams face many challenges in today’s competitive and complex market.
From generating quality leads to closing deals, they must overcome various obstacles affecting their efficiency and performance.
Discover the most common barriers that commercial services sales teams encounter.
- Trouble reaching the right person
- Ineffective lead generation
- Poor lead follow-up
- Lengthy sales cycles
- Time management challenges
- Navigating the decision process
- Inadequate sales training and tools
- Complex product knowledge
1. Trouble reaching the right person
In commercial service sales, a primary issue sales teams have is reaching the right person. This is usually due to missing contact information or not knowing contacts at a particular site. But gatekeepers can also significantly impede the sales process.
According to Forbes, 64.8 percent (two-thirds) of a rep’s time is spent in non-revenue-generating activities. This includes finding the right person to contact and getting stuck with gatekeepers.
Without reliable tools and strategies, sales teams struggle to navigate gatekeepers, and achieve their goal of reaching property decision-makers. Commercial service sales professionals need tools to know who works at a property, so they can approach gatekeepers with confidence.
Imagine two scenarios where you approach the front desk of a building. In the first scenario, you don’t know who works at the property, so you say to the receptionist, “I’d like to speak to someone about the fire system.” This may work, but the person at the front desk may not know who to put you in contact with or may not help you because they sense you’re selling something.
In the second scenario, you know someone who works at the property, so you say to the receptionist, “I’d like to connect with the facilities director, John Smith, about the fire system.” In this scenario, you’ve got a very clear ask and have established credibility with the gatekeeper. You’re much more likely to receive help, because you have insights into the building. The best outcome would be to call the decision maker directly, so look out for solutions that can do this too.
2. Ineffective lead generation
Surprisingly, over 70 percent of incoming leads are wasted. This massive inefficiency hits your bottom line in two ways: the high financial cost of acquiring leads and the expensive opportunity cost of time and resources.
For example, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) estimates the average cost per HVAC lead is $250-$300. This cost is alarmingly high, and caused by inefficient lead generation efforts.
Such high costs often stem from poorly executed lead generation efforts. Instead of targeting potential customers directly, many businesses cast a broad net. This strategy captures many unqualified leads, driving up costs and often delivering lower returns.
These inefficiencies lead to tangible setbacks. Businesses chase unqualified contacts, wasting time and resources. In the process, teams overlook high-potential leads, missing out on sales. Worse, these efforts also drain valuable marketing resources.
A robust lead generation strategy taps into multiple channels and identifies high-value targets across multiple criteria. Commercial service sellers need to think about not only firmographics and contacts, but also about the type and size of a property or whether a building is owner occupied, among other important property characteristics.
For the best results, businesses must get to know their prospective clients. Marketing automation and sales engagement tools come into play to deliver personalized communications to a targeted audience. Businesses can craft more effective lead-nurturing efforts and design resonant follow-up journeys by pinpointing and addressing their specific needs.
While traditional methods like email and cold calling remain relevant, they can’t stand alone in our tech-driven age. Incorporating the right software into lead generation strategies can boost their impact, potentially leading to a 30 percent uptick in sales opportunities. With a strategic approach, businesses can convert potential into profits.
3. Poor lead follow-up
Despite investing in lead generation, over 30 percent of leads aren’t pursued beyond the initial contact. This lapse severely hinders efficiency.
In a B2B purchase, an average of 11 individual stakeholders are involved. Depending on your solution or service, the number of stakeholders can increase up to nearly 20. With so many players, it’s not surprising how long the sales process can take. It usually takes longer with more people involved.
This complexity demands persistence in outreach. A single interaction rarely seals the deal. Regular and consistent follow-ups are crucial.
Leads can easily slip away without proactive, timely contact. For instance, if a prospect inquires about pricing, seize that moment. Discuss how your offer delivers value and provides long-term cost savings.
Commercial sales teams must customize their follow-up based on prior interactions and align products with the prospect’s needs.
4. Varied lengths of sales cycles in commercial services sales
While many commercial services sales projects experience long sales cycles due to decision-making complexities, it’s crucial to remember not all do.
The duration and intricacy of the sales process can vary based on what’s being offered. For instance, outcome-based solutions such as selling a vision of energy efficiency across a college campus demand more time and effort than offering a preventative maintenance contract. Building automation systems that achieve carbon emissions goals may require more sophisticated proposals across many solution areas.
For those lengthier sales cycles, the sheer number of influencing factors can prolong decisions, sometimes stalling revenue growth for sales teams. Giving prospects adequate time for consideration is essential, but delays can be costly.
Content emerges as a valuable tool to aid in this process and reduce hesitation. Sharing case studies, testimonials, and reviews can nurture the customer through their journey and help expedite their decision-making, leading to enhanced sales cycle efficiency.
5. Time management challenges
Efficiency in commercial service sales is directly linked to effective time management. Yet, the juggling act of prospecting, follow-ups, meetings, and administrative tasks can lead to chaotic schedules and reduced productivity.
Imagine the hypothetical scenario of a commercial service sales professional juggling 30 to 50 sales calls, attending first meetings, drafting reports, and sending numerous emails all in one day. Such a demanding schedule may lead to a significant efficiency issue: poor time management.
There are only so many hours in a day, and prioritizing an efficient schedule is key to reaching sales goals. Whether you’re more of an on-the-phone or on-the-ground commercial service sales professional, lost time amounts to lost sales.
Solving this efficiency challenge often starts with collaboration on the sales team about the division of leads and subsequent responsibilities. It also requires an investment in technologies that save time and deliver value.
6. Difficulty navigating the decision process
Navigating the intricacies of varied sales processes can be challenging, especially when dealing with bureaucratic hurdles and multiple decision-makers.
Sales is rarely a one-person show, especially in the realm of commercial services. Success also depends entirely on your service solution area.
The process requires a harmonious blend of sales tactics, marketing resources, product compliance, pricing approvals, and relationship building. It’s crucial for teams like marketing, product development, and field technicians to sync up to ensure a smooth sales journey collaboratively.
However, too much cross-collaboration and communication barriers can bog down the process. Research indicates that individuals can enhance their efficiency by 18 to 24 percent by organizing time-based on task importance, prioritizing communications, and fostering open lines of communication.
This proactive approach helps break down barriers, allowing sales professionals to work more effectively across departments.
7. Inadequate sales training and tools
Today’s world puts a huge emphasis on technology for nearly everything, including and especially prioritizing sales. Technology plays a pivotal role in enhancing sales efficiency.
The first few months in a job can be exceptionally challenging. The absence of proper guidance on sales techniques, objection handling, and negotiation strategies causes sales cycle inefficiencies. Many reps struggle to understand their market and figure out who to contact or get in touch with. This is typically due to on-the-job challenges and the learning curve that comes with a new position. It’s a normal part of the onboarding process for any new hire, regardless of how well a commercial service sales professional is trained.
A lack of market understanding can also influence the types of sales tools that professionals do or don’t use. Sales teams can use a commercial service sales technology stack to avoid missing opportunities. Sales leaders should invest in user-friendly technology solutions.
In addition, providing thorough training ensures teams can harness the power of automation, data analysis, and communication tools to streamline sales cycles and maximize efficiency. Furthermore, allowing enough time for a new rep to learn the ropes is critical for retention and success.
8. Complex product knowledge
Even if you know how to sell well, you may not get far without a basic understanding of what you want to sell.
Comprehensive product knowledge is a non-negotiable for any sales professional, but even more so for a commercial HVAC sales team. After all, you’re selling an integral part of a building solution that changes people’s daily experience while they work.
However, the technical complexity of HVAC systems can be overwhelming, making it challenging to explain their benefits and functionality to customers. Thus, sales efficiency becomes more difficult.
When salespeople cannot answer detailed questions or address client concerns, it erodes their credibility and prolongs or even loses a deal. Teams need to sync regularly with product or technical teams. Sellers need to stay up to date not only with industry trends and regulations, but also with technical product content like help articles and training sessions.
Efficiency is the cornerstone of success for commercial service sales professionals.
By identifying and addressing the barriers that impede efficiency, sales teams can achieve higher productivity, faster deal closures, and stronger customer relationships.
Overcoming challenges related to lead generation, product knowledge, training, technology, personalization, change, time management, and collaboration requires a combination of strategies, ranging from embracing new technologies to nurturing a culture of continuous learning.
As the landscape of sales continues to evolve, the ability to adapt and conquer these barriers will differentiate the thriving sales professionals from the struggling ones.
Discover how Convex helps your commercial services sales team overcome these challenges.
- 7 Successful Commercial Services Sales Methodologies
- 3 Methods to Sell Commercial Services Cold Calls
- 4 Creative Ways Our Users Manage the Sales Funnel With Atlas
- Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) | Energy.gov
Jerome is a Group Product Marketing Manager at Convex. Prior to Convex, he led product marketing and go-to-market strategy across different business units at Adobe and worked as a strategy consultant. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Originally published on October 26, 2023 Updated on October 27, 2023