2018 Selling Challenges Research

Every year, Richardson collects hundreds of survey responses to understand current challenges in selling. In 2018, more than 350 sales professionals across industries and geographies participated in our study, 58% of those professionals carried a quota size of over $1 million dollars for 2018. We use the findings of this research to provide practical insights to help sales professionals meet and exceed their annual goals.

This year’s survey responses coalesce into a picture of intense competition in the effort to achieve the momentum needed for winning more complex sales. As buyers become more sophisticated and increasingly aware of the breadth of options available, sales professionals are discovering that they need to respond with smarter strategies and renewed intensity.

2018 belongs to sales professionals who engage every customer, new or prospective, with a level of understanding, preparation, and insight that rises to the level of a trusted advisor.

In this article, we summarize key findings from the research.  For more information and to access our insights for overcoming these challenges please download the full report by clicking here.

Top Selling Challenges of 2018


  1. Prospecting: Creating a targeted prospecting strategy ranked as the top challenge facing sales professionals in their prospecting efforts. This outcome illustrates the long-term complexity behind the challenge of prospecting. Additionally, the increasing sophistication of sales automation tools is prompting sales professionals to change the way in which they design their prospecting strategy.
  2. Uncovering Customer Needs: Uncovering complete information regarding the decision-making process was the top challenge for sales professionals seeking to explore customer needs. This suggests that numerous stakeholders must commit to a solution before the sale can reach a close. When a buying decision occurs at the group level, it is difficult for sales professionals to acquire all the pieces, much less arrange them into a complete picture.
  3. Negotiations: Gaining higher prices is the top challenge related to sales negotiations. However, all of the top three challenges for 2018 are connected to pricing. Both “maintaining control” and “closing win-win deals” are crucial to reaching a close without conceding on pricing. Customers are taking advantage of increasing competition among sales professionals by demanding low-cost solutions. This dynamic puts the sales professional under increasing pressure to maintain the full value of the sale.
  4. Buyer’s Decisions: Inertia is a major challenge for the buyer. An increasing array of options presents buyers with numerous paths. Often, this complexity leads to a “reversion to the mean” in which no change occurs. Additionally, the uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of various solutions creates hesitation.
  5. Managing Accounts: The challenge of balancing sales and relationship management is ongoing. The sales professional has less time to pursue new opportunities because previous sales require follow through. As solutions become more complex, sales professionals face a growing burden to guide the customer through the adoption process.
  6. Improving Valuable Selling Skills: Appropriately, sales professionals are placing a high value on their ability to ask insightful questions in the drive to understand customer needs. Competition has forced many businesses to leverage nuanced differentiators. As a result, sales professionals recognize the need to make a greater effort to understand these details across a range of customers. Moreover, insightful questions are an early step towards shaping the customer’s thinking by directing their focus to areas where the sales professional can offer value.

Download the Full Report

About The Author: Andrea Grodnitzky

As Richardson’s Chief Marketing Officer, Andrea is responsible for demand generation and value creation through strategic marketing, brand awareness, digital optimization, product launch initiatives, and market-facing thought leadership to drive sustained, organic growth.  With a passion for sales and customer-centric activity, Andrea and her team work to inspire customers across the engagement lifecycle and support them in their journey to market leadership by delivering fresh perspectives to their sales challenges. Read More About Andrea

Additional Sales Resources

Sales Training Effectiveness

Research: 2018 Selling Challenges

Richardson’s 2018 Selling Challenges Study reveals a panoramic vew of the changes confronting sales professionals today. With hundr...

Sales Training Effectiveness

Research: Understanding Selling Challenges in 2017

Richardson's 2017 Selling Challenges research presents critical inormation on the state of the sales environment. Insights provided...

Consultative Selling Skills

Critical Sales Skills & Capabilities to Engage the Modern Buyer

The buyer journey has changed dramatically, and successful sellers need to be armed with the latest approaches and thinking in order...

Consultative Selling Skills

White Paper: Elevate Your Consultative Selling Approach to Compete Today

Competing in the world of selling today means understanding the changing world of your buyers and adopting a modern consultative selli...