12 Reasons Your Sales Force Will Fail to Make Quota

This post originally appeared here on the Selling Power blog.

2018 is well under way, and sales teams are working to ensure a successful year. Sales leaders have prepared their teams to reach this year’s goals, and the emphasis now is on successful execution.

Even if you’ve hired and retained the best people, you may find there are areas in which they need improvement. Let’s examine the following issues – they are usually the reasons reps fail to make quota.

  1. Reps lack discipline. Reps are insufficiently focused on things that need to be done on a regular basis to execute well. They need a daily, focused plan and to hold themselves accountable for it. Distractions should be minimized, meetings contained. Organizations must teach reps these tools, but reps must execute.
  2. Pitches suck. Reps can be too self-focused on products and services and fail to create a fundamental foundation of customer need. Reps must address why prospects need something before trying to sell them their goods. Don’t talk about your product in your first call. Bring prospects new insights and new ideas, and then challenge them to change.
  3. Lack of motivation. There is often inconsistency in sales forces. Leadership must understand what motivates their sales organizations to excite them to come to work. An environment of transparency and constructive criticism will lead to improvement. Individuals, teams, and the organization must be held accountable.
  4. Ability to tolerate chaos. Reps, teams, and organizations have to change direction on a dime. Solid plans may have been laid for the first quarter, but they may need to be changed in the next. Reps who require help could be assisted via exercises, drills, and selective use of technology and tools. What problem is technology solving – and is it helping to facilitate the buying process?  Fewer tools may be better than more.
  5. Pushing prospects too hard. Many salespeople push faster than buyers are willing to go. The buying and the selling process must align. Complex B2B solutions require that prospects understand the need for change, and that takes time. Do not create friction with existing prospects by pushing your timeline. Instead, find additional prospects who are ready to buy.
  6. Unhealthy pipelines. Most pipelines are filled with deals that are not winnable. A bigger pipeline doesn’t automatically mean a better chance of success. Sales managers with effective pipeline meetings drive 15% higher revenue than those without. Don’t waste time on deals that won’t close.
  7. CRM is not designed to help reps sell. Instead, it helps leaders get better visibility into events via reporting. Sales reps view CRM differently than management. They are afraid it will be held against them in some way. CRM should be used and deployed not as a database of structured information, but as a tool to help guide the use of time.
  8. Sales managers are not coaching enough. Managers do spend time with their reps, but they inspect for compliance instead of improving for future activity. They focus on volume metrics rather than quality of calls or pitches. They tend to be reactive and ad hoc with sellers. Reps do not experience this as coaching, because they receive little value from the conversation.
  9. Reps don’t understand the industry and customers. Salespeople must understand the ecosystem inside B2B prospect companies and their internal politics. They must also understand the language of the industry in which they work – its jargon, seasonal calendar, events, and acronyms.
  10. Marketing does a bad job with leads. Typical B2B databases deteriorate 2-3 percent per month, so data hygiene and data development are critical. Marketing and sales should work together to improve the leads and the follow-up. The more departments work together as one unit with a focus on sales and revenue, the better the quota attainment. Awareness building is part of the buying cycle – not independent of it.
  11. Lack of revenue responsibility. There are good sales and bad sales. The economics of the business must be kept in mind to understand where the best deals come from. This is a responsibility for sales reps and sales managers. It is also marketing’s responsibility and should be a marketing department metric. Sales pipeline contribution should be a marketing KPI.
  12. Lack of empathy. Sales teams lack empathy for each other, for other departments, and for their organizations. Find out what is important to your fellow reps, your boss, your prospects. The more you understand their situation, the easier the creation of trust and credibility that will differentiate you from others.

Keep these 12 points in mind as you navigate the choppy waters toward this year’s quota.  They will stand you in good stead.