Sales innovation doesn't come easy. It's an uphill battle that requires boldness, effort, and — in many cases — a whole lot of luck.

Innovators face all kinds of challenges at every stage of their development — that's just a given. These kinds of businesses are almost bound to hit hitches, stall at points, and have to adjust their strategies as they go.

To help the sales innovators navigating the trials and tribulations of trailblazing, we've compiled a list of some common sales innovator challenges and offered some insight on how to figure them out. Let's take a look.

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Sales Innovator Challenges

1. Gathering the Funding and Resources to Innovate

You can't innovate if you don't have the means to get yourself off the ground, and that's much easier said than done. A lot of innovation winds up dead on arrival because it lacks requisite financial support.

Investors can be hard to come by. There's most likely some kind of competition in your space — and only so many investors looking into solutions like yours. If you're pursuing funding, there are a few steps you can take to put yourself in as good a position as possible to succeed.

For instance, you can:

  • Craft a compelling story to help frame your value proposition.
  • Network rigorously to get in front of the right people.
  • Leverage online resources like AngelList and MicroVentures.
  • Use crowdsourcing platforms.
  • Demonstrate you have a firm understanding of your market and how to cater to the prospects within it.

All those tips rest on your ability to understand the value of what you're selling and who's going to be interested in buying it. There's no guarantee you'll be able to land the financial backing you need to spark and sustain your innovation, but if you conduct thorough research, have faith in your solution, and remain persistent, you'll give yourself a shot.

2. Setting Unreasonably High Expectations

Ambition is central to sales innovation, but sometimes shooting for the moon isn't the way to go. Overestimating your capabilities and the potential success that comes with them can hurt morale and skew your sales forecasts. 

Setting lofty goals and assumptions for securing funding or product enhancements can trip you and your business up. That's why you often need to temper your expectations if you're going to sustain any progress your business makes.

You'll want to make plans for incremental progress if you want to avoid this pitfall — for instance, don't bank on securing sizable investments. You should also plan around reasonably high and low results. Ultimately, you need to separate emotion, ego, and excitement from the process, and set rational expectations that you can legitimately meet.

3. Catering to the Most Relevant Buyer Personas

Sales innovation rests, in large part, on your ability to thoroughly understand your target market. If you're catering exclusively to a base that's only so interested in solutions like yours, you'll miss out on opportunities and stifle your potential for innovation.

Many sales innovators often run into trouble with this because they haven't had time to find their bearings. Newer companies might not have as thorough and holistic a picture of their customers as they need to — not for lack of sales and marketing savvy but for lack of maturity.

In these cases, sales innovators need to keep careful tabs on who they interact with and how they interact with them. Marketing should also play a role in researching and shaping accurate buyer personas. Ultimately, this challenge can be overcome with experience, analysis, and effort — you can only get so far with limited customer insight.

4. Lacking the Willingness to Adapt and Pivot

While innovators should always stay motivated with their eyes on the prize, their efforts can be undermined by tunnel vision. Curveballs are often par for the course when it comes to trailblazing — and those unexpected turns might hit a little too hard if you're not willing to adapt.

Are you consistently seeing trouble at specific stages in your sales lifecycle? You might need to reevaluate and adjust your sales process. Is a competitor dominating the market share you're targeting? You might have to reevaluate your sales messaging and pricing model. Are you flat-out bombing but notice there's another viable application of your product or service? It might be time to pivot.

Your ability to innovate often leans on your ability to adapt. Your sales landscape is probably going to be ever-evolving, and you need to be willing to evolve with it. Remain rational and open-minded, and you'll be in a good position to overcome this hurdle.

Obviously this list is far from exhaustive. Sales innovators face too many challenges at virtually every turn to cover in a single article. Still, anyone looking to forge their own way in their industry needs to be mindful of the potential pitfalls listed here. No matter what you do or make, innovation invites these kinds of issues, so do what you can to stay on top of them.

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Originally published May 19, 2021 8:30:00 AM, updated June 15 2021

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