sales problem solving6 Elements of Sales Problem Framing Framework

6 Elements of Sales Problem Framing Framework

Elements of Sales Problem Framing Framework

Every time a sales manager walks out a monthly review meeting with her sales directors, there is a list of actions to be taken. These are mostly agreed actions to address problems they are facing in their portfolio.

Unfortunately, this is how it happens in large and mature corporations as well.Sales Managers hardly opt to use the free hand given to think about the problems in their portfolio, prioritize them and frame the problems so that they can be solved easily.

There are 6 essential elements to consider while framing problems in sales and here they are:

Business Context/Business Case

An expression of the impact felt on the business, its severity and communication of sense of urgency as to why this problem needs to be addressed now? For example: Market Share, Revenue Loss,etc

Practical Problem to be addressed

This should be framed as a question for which the answer has to be found down while solving the problem. Creating this statement requires at most care. In fact we may need to reframe the problem statement after some discovery.

For example:

Initial statement can be “Why is our market share not improving in west territory?” But after some exploratory exercises with the stakeholders and field visit, this statement can be reframed as “How do we improve the relationship and engagement between company sales managers and channel partners in west territory?”  While this reframed statement still addresses the business context of improving the market share, it is a pruned and practical statement that is a reflection of the ground reality.

Measure of Success

Once the problem statement is clear, we need to know how we will measure and know if the problem is really solved or not. It’s like a yardstick, so it should be a measurable and quantifiable metric. In this case, we can go for market share, but the problem we are solving is about relationships and engagement between company reps and channel partners. So a better measure of success to consider are  – assessment of satisfaction of both parties through a survey or through a number of field visits or the quality of interactions or the action points coming out of their review meetings, etc. There are no right or wrong answers, but consider what best represents the problem and restrict it to one (or at most 2)

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It’s very important to limit the boundaries of the problem. As a sales manager you would have a large territory and many products or services in your portfolio, but without prioritizing which ones are important and where the energies have to be diverted, it would be difficult to demonstrate any real impact on ground. Start small and scale up the problem.


Many experts believe it is not right to start with constraints as it limits our thinking and probability of success in a pursuit to solve problems. As Sales Managers, we need to face the reality. By listing down constraints that we anticipate in solving a particular problem, it can be challenged. That is very helpful because sometimes we may perceive something as a constraint, while in reality it is not, and on other occasions, merely stating the constraints will help gartner support from other stakeholders to resolve it.

Action Plan

Whether its a gantt chart or anything other approach, its best to state when the root causes for the problem would be identified, when solutions will be tested and when business results will start flowing in.

By considering these 6 elements, Sales Managers will be able to effectively solve sales problems. It is believed by Japanese that when we understand our problems by deeply digging into it, we may realise the solutions are obvious, or even better, solutions are not needed at all.

Sales Managers can master this skill through practice. Initially they may require some guidance from an expert, but with time they can coach others.

If you are looking for Sales Analytics Training and consulting in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and across India, contact us.

Sales Problem Solver’s Skills

Sales Problem Solver's Skills

We all are problem solvers at our own level. Handling challenges, hurdles, persistent issues and alleviating them is what differentiates a great sales manager from the rest.

Tools and techniques for solving problems are well established for a long time now and there are various methods, techniques and tools that can be used. For example, Lean Six Sigma, TQM, Agile, Scrum, Design Thinking, etc are few such frameworks. Various sectors have seen success with these methodologies. However, when it comes to functional success, business development and sales is a unique function in that, it is highly dependent on external factors. Even many internal factors are not within good control of the sales organization. Thus, there are certain unique challenges that sales managers face when they try to apply such proven problem solving methodologies for sales problems.

More than a structured approach or framework for solving sales problems, the first thing Sales Managers should develop is a Sales Problem Solving Mindset. The skills that support this mindset are described below. Each of these skills can separately add value to every sales manager’s performance. When applied in the form of a structured problem solving framework, it becomes very powerful.

Problem Framing Skills

The first step in solving business problems is knowing exactly what is the problem that has to be solved. This might sound like a no-brainer. But don’t underestimate the power of clarity. If the organization wants to improve its market share in a particular segment, the problem may have to be framed keeping in consideration points such as – Is our market share very low compared to peers, how long has it been this way, what have we done and why have they failed, what is the customer’s perception about us?, etc. After sufficient exploration, we may narrow down and define the problem that we wish to solve as “How can our employees engage with our channel partners effectively?” instead of “How to improve our Market Share?”

Sometimes, we can define the problem and then collect data, but on other occasions, we have to do the reverse.  Thus framing a problem for a given scenario is a skill in itself and Sales Managers need to master this.

To register to our online ‘Sales Managers Problem Solving Skills Course’.

Data Collection Skills

In order to permanently solve any problem, we need to go to the root cause of the problem, and use data or facts to validate really if a particular cause is the reason for the problem. Often, Sales Managers are plagued by reasons that their team members use to justify their poor performance. But these have to be validated with data. Unfortunately, the problem in sales is that required data is not often available. Sales managers should develop necessary skills to understand what data is needed to validate a given problem or cause and how to gather that data. Sometimes surrogate measures will have to be used and sometimes they have to live with surveyed data. Thus the ability to know what data is needed in a given scenario and how to gather that is the second skill needed for Sales Managers wishing to solve business problems.

Quantitative Analytical Skills

Today’s sales enablement systems such as CRM, ERP, etc provide enough data to get started with some basic sales analytics. However sales managers need to upskill themselves in analytics. They need to know how to perform necessary analysis from the data available. While Sales Analysts are well versed in crunching numbers and preparing charts, many Sales Managers are not even comfortable with relevant formulae and charts in Excel. The ability to work with data, using visualization methods to validate association or relationship between various factors, use statistical tools to identify sources of inconsistency in performance & factors driving it, ability to identify known best performers from data, using probability principles to validate demand-supply problems in sales and statistical association/correlation studies to identify causes are all essential analytical skills for sales managers.

Qualitative Discovery Skills

To solve most sales problems, an augmented approach of using both Data and ‘Gemba’ is needed. There are several aspects such as field observation, validation or audit of sales standards across the sales process, partner sales rep skill and will validation, qualitative evaluation of customer objection handling, benchmarking competition best practices, picking up verbal and non-verbal clues, etc., that require strong discovery skills that sales managers need to develop.

Experimentation Validation

The willingness to accept that not everything that we are doing is going click & that too the very first time is the basis for experimentation validation. When solutions are put in place, often sales managers are anxious to see the results right away. In reality, many of our action plans are unique to the circumstances and the mindset to see it as a series of experiments and set logical check points, learn the lessons and move forward to refine the action plan or solution is any skill that sales managers need to acquire too.

If you are looking for Sales Analytics Training and consulting in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and across India, contact us.

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