Top Sales Challenges and Pain Points for Ethical Businesses

Corinne Thomas

Corinne Thomas

Managing Director & Sales Expert

As a business owner, what keeps you awake at night? Is it your sales strategy? Finances? Your business plan? 

You’re not alone. Back in February 2020, we surveyed the owners of over 150 natural, organic and green businesses to find out their biggest sales challenges and pain points. What we learnt was incredibly insightful – and sometimes surprising. 

A worldwide snapshot 

Beauty, health, food and retail businesses from all over the world took Ethical Sales’ online Global Sales Survey, from start-ups to more established businesses.  

The results demonstrate the daily struggle that many owners face when trying to keep the wheels turning operationally and also grow their customer base with sales activities.  

 

Words used to describe what they felt about sales activities or hitting targets set

The survey takers provided honest and open responses when asked about growing small business sales. These included: 

“Fear of rejection. Worry about not reaching targets set.” 

“When it works – elation! When it doesn’t – fear, disappointment, resilience.” 

“Enthusiastic about the possibilities and opportunities. Lack of sales knowledge however makes me feel totally unequipped and daunted.” 

Many business owners are taking on all the sales responsibilities themselves with very little support as this infographic demonstrates: 

Common challenges and shared solutions 

As you might expect, time and money came up repeatedly as barriers to sales skills success. 24% of respondents said they didn’t have “enough time to commit to sales activities” with 32% citing “lack of investment or cash to fund sales growth activities” as an issue. 

And what is it that’s keeping business owners awake at night? One third said it’s “not growing the business fast enough or meeting expected targets”. A further 23% admitted to “feeling like I do not know what I am doing or have a clear plan of action” as keeping them from a restful night’s sleep. Only 6% claimed that they slept well! 

When asked what help or support would have the most impact on their business in the coming year, 51% felt that sales strategy would be very helpful as well as sales mentoring (46%). The respondents also liked the idea of practical help such as running direct to consumer sales campaigns (71%) and business to business sales campaigns (55%).  

“Interesting set of questions which helped me to realise that top level strategic support is the most valuable. It feels like everything else would slot in under this, once the strategy is understood. Also made me realise that the 1:1 mentoring aspect is more valuable than the online training course, which feels more indirect.”  

Organic beauty business owner’s response to the question about what support would have the most impact on their business.  

Steps to sales success

The results of our survey are clear: owners need more support on the sales side of the business. What we can see from these results is that businesses want help with both sales strategy and practical delivery because, deep down, they realise they can’t do it all themselves.  

This survey was incredibly helpful in helping us to set up our offering to clients, and create a menu of sales skills that natural, ethical and green businesses can tap into. From free downloadable guides and weekly sales tips sessions on Instagram and Facebook to bespoke one-to-one mentoring and sales strategy support, Ethical Sales’ wide-ranging experience can help you grow faster and in the right direction, rather than trying to spin all the plates yourself.

What’s also an important takeaway from the survey is that you’re not alone with any sales challenges you may currently experiencing — many other businesses feel exactly the same way as you do. It’s therefore important to take some time to sit down and identify what support services you feel your business would benefit from. Once this is in place and you’ve worked out a clear plan of action, hopefully, a good night’s sleep will follow! 

Download the full results of the Sales Survey to learn more insights from other natural, ethical and green companies, as well as access further resources to help you grow your business. 

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