To be able to say “I smashed my sales target” after the countless calls, emails, visits, proposals, knock backs and tussles with tough “gatekeepers” offers one of the most satisfying feelings a salesperson can have.
It solidifies our positions as people who show resilience, determination and a willingness to pull out all the stops to get our jobs done.
Unfortunately, this statement rings true for only a small percentage of salespeople on a regular basis. Lots of people working in business development, account management, telesales or field-based sales roles experience “near misses” or even “blank months”.
We spend lots of time talking to sales teams and their managers and directors about how we can support them in their journey to being “top performers” and we find ourselves saying the same thing time and time again.
This might seem like a strange thing for a Skills Development business like ours to say, but we really do mean it. Training is only a PART of the solution. Before we can give people the tools, they need to be successful, we must get them to understand why they might not be hitting their targets as often as they would like. There are several reasons for this:
- They are not planning their time properly.
Many salespeople are guilty of “just winging it”. Call lists and company data get burned through because the salesperson isn’t calling the right person at the right time or hasn’t spent the time to align the proposition to the potential need of the prospect. Failing to understand that a typical working week doesn’t exist anymore means that salespeople aren’t adjusting their call or visit times to be in line with their prospects’ availability. This results in wasted calls and repeated call back attempts.
- They fear their KPIs and targets.
You wouldn’t jump in a car and drive two hundred miles to your destination without knowing the route, would you?
Salespeople fear their key performance indicators because they see them as a “big stick” rather than a road map to success. Spending time with salespeople to explain how KPIs make life easier can be a major contributing factor to increasing performance.
“It’s all about the numbers” is partially true – but we believe it is a delicate balance of quality vs quantity.
- Their behaviours and attitude have changed.
Sales is a tough job. It takes a unique skill set to be able to bounce back from a “NO”. Sometimes the “no’s” can take their toll. Sometimes the fire simply goes out and salespeople who have been in their roles for a while can start to slow down because they are “going through the motions”.
Without tenacity and passion, the job becomes MUCH harder. Taking the time to look at working practices and personal behaviours and attitudes is a fundamental part of helping people achieve their objectives – consistently.
- Their approach is stale.
Successful business winners need to be agile and responsive. Often the sales pitch misses the mark because the buying motivations of the prospect have changed. Refreshing the pitch, shifting direction in terms of sector or size of prospect could unlock more sales opportunities. Just because something worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work in the future.
- They aren’t being managed properly.
Controversial we know. There are two sides to a successful sales team. Those that win the business, and those that show them how.
Time and again we still come across the sales manager who thinks they will get the best from their people by adopting the tough approach. Yes – sales is a high-pressured role but being constantly reminded or asked about performance damages morale and impacts performance. Conversations about performance shouldn’t happen on a daily basis, and they shouldn’t happen without both parties being properly planned for the discussion. The management style of the leadership within a sales team is directly linked to the performance of the team members.
There are many reasons why sales teams lose their passion or fail to hit their targets. We can’t walk in and wave a magic wand with a training course, which is why we insist on spending time with the delegates who are going to be attending the training.
By taking the time to get to know the team, we get a better understanding of WHY performance has slipped. We give them the opportunity to be part of how their training is designed and they respond better because they were a key part of its development.