The harsh reality is that many, dare I say most sales teams are not reaching quota. While I could go on for pages as to why this is the case, insufficient training, lack of a Sales Development Platform, poor management, negative market forces, not enough marketing leads etc.. In my experience personally, and with the over 400 sales teams we have worked with over the past 13 years, the most common reason salespeople don’t reach quota is that they don’t do the work it takes to succeed.
Being successful in sales takes hard work and a lot of it. It requires a sales rep to endure rejection on a daily basis, a constant focus on bringing value to their prospects and the market as a whole and an uncommon level of commitment. Those who are willing to do what most won’t most certainly achieve what most can’t. One of my favorite quotes. Anyway, the fact is very few sales people are willing to make the sacrifices necessary and put the hard work in to ensure success.
That said, I believe that while all sales people can’t be saved, the bottom 20% are a lost cause and should find another occupation with your urging. The middle 60% can be. The top 20% are on track and need minimal help.
Let’s talk about how to help the 60% of sales reps, that can be better. Much better. Below are a few areas that are critical to the success of any sales team.
1) Professional Development.
Much like a professional sports team, it takes constant practice to maintain and improve performance. This goes for the superstar as well as the middle of the road player. A manager should act as a coach offering real-time advice as well as more formal training. Reading a good book as a team each quarter is a great idea.
2) Process (Sales Playbook).
The best teams have a well thought out process and have that process documented in a playbook for reference. There is no room for interpretation, a great salesperson knows the sales process cold and adheres to it every time.
What gets measured gets done. Work with the team to build a fair and attainable plan and hold them accountable to doing the activities necessary to meet that plan. Meeting quota is driven by sales conversations. Even an average rep can succeed if they have enough sales conversations. This is by far the most important metric. It does not matter how a rep gets in front of a prospect, networking, cold calling, following up on marketing leads or a combination of all of these, just make sure your team is speaking to enough prospects every day.
4) Active management (Coaching).
Some, usually those who prefer to avoid doing the work, call it micromanaging. I call it managing. The truth is, sales is tough. All teams need active management, support, and constant coaching. Just look at any successful sports team. They are made up of the best of the best, but it takes great coaching and management to reach championship levels.
While succeeding in sales is difficult, it's not rocket science start with a well thought out plan, and execute with a relentless focus. Just do the work.