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5 Reasons why Sales Teams Fail

I recently read an extremely insightful white paper that I’d like to address. In this white paper, there were 5 main issues that seemed to carry throughout the sales community, keeping them from achieving A+ results. Let’s go through them one at a time.

The following data is based on research findings conducted by Nightingale Conant in conjunction with other sales and learning specialists. 2,663 sales organizations took part in the survey. This survey was originally published to help Sales Directors understand the issues that prevent optimum sales performance results.

ISSUE 5 – NOT HAVING THE RIGHT MANAGEMENT PROCESSES IN PLACE
Explanation: Your managers aren’t managing properly.

Reasoning: Maybe you have the wrong person in the sales manager position. Just because John Smith was your sales superstar, doesn’t mean he can wear the “management hat.” The skills required to manage, mentor, and develop a sales team are totally different from those required for selling effectively.

The other thing that seems to be contributing to this issue is that as a whole, sales managers don’t feel they have sufficient time to train and develop their people. This means the sales people are all pursuing success individually in their own way. Remember, your sales force is an asset, not a liability. Investing time to train and coach them properly will only help that asset grow.

ISSUE 4 – FAILING TO FOCUS ON THE ACTIVITIES OF SALESPEOPLE
Explanation: Your salespeople either don’t have enough activities or not enough in the right areas.

Reasoning: A common reason for this issue is simply not putting in the man-hours. Many salespeople just aren’t doing enough; not making enough calls, not setting enough appointments, not enough networking. Not only that, but most salespeople have a hard time indentifying people who have a legitimate need for their product/service (a TRUE prospect). Without a way to determine the difference between a suspect and a prospect, sales people end up wasting their time on someone who isn’t ever going to buy from them. Also, salespeople often find themselves caught up tending to tasks from existing clients instead of using that time to build new ones.

ISSUE 3 – LACK OF ESSENTIAL SKILLS
Explanation: Your sales team lacks the raw knowledge to sell effectively.

Reasoning: In the ‘good ole days,’ companies like Hewlett Packard and IBM put their sales people through an extensive 12-18 month training program. Now, sales people are lucky to get a half-day training; and more often than not, it’s based primarily on product knowledge. So how can we expect top results out of our sales people if we as business owners provide less upfront training to develop their skills?!

ISSUE 2 – LACK OF ONGOING REINFORCEMENT
Explanation: Your salespeople aren’t getting the “continuing education” they need.

Reasoning: Adults learn through repetition. Even if there is an “initial training program,” there’s a very high probability that the skills learned will fade away over time without reinforcing them. We’re human; it’s not uncommon to pick up bad habits and fall back in to our “comfort zone.” More importantly, sales strategies and technology is changing so rapidly, it’s become imperative to reinvent your approach and sales strategy in order to stay on top of your game.

ISSUE 1 – A POORLY DEFINED SALES PROCESS
Explanation: Your salespeople have no process to follow.

Reasoning: Even companies that have a top-of-the-line product know that the product won’t sell itself. At the very least, companies need experienced salespeople who understand their product and have a feel for the market that needs it. But even with all of those fundamentals in place, you’re still not guaranteed sales. Though many organizations know the significance of the term “the customer is most important,” just referring to a general “consultative approach” with no clear and formal process will get you nowhere.

If you recognize some of these issues in your sales force you are certainly not alone. You have probably cut down your sales force to the minimum anyway. So have you kept the best people? If so, spend time to train and manage them properly to get the most out f them. If you don’t have an ace team, go out and get one and make them the best they can be. Now is the time.

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