Most leaders are all too familiar with the sinking feeling when after spending months on developing and launching a new product, sales aren’t anywhere near what you’ve been projecting to your investors and partners. Or maybe after a solid sales run, the growth seems to be tapering or plateauing. If you’re like most people, you’re probably about to have a tough conversation with your sales team. You might even consider hiring a “rock star” sales person to save the day, only to end up feeling frustrated again. Here are the 4 most common reasons why sales teams perform below expectations.
Stuck in the past
Let’s face it: the usual playbook for sales isn’t relevant anymore. In today’s buyer centric-world, buyers have become much more sophisticated and informed. The process of buying itself is no longer a simple “hear a sales pitch” followed by a purchase decision. Studies show buyers actively engage in extensive research, interacting with various touch-points of the company’s online and offline channels, or brand before even entering into a conversation with a sales representative.
That means there’s little that the sales team can do by itself to “fix” things. As sales outcomes are increasingly tied to many other functions within the organisation, what’s needed is a holistic approach to evaluating why sales targets are flagging.
Lack of innovation and sales leadership
The sales function often suffers from neglect when it comes to innovation. While some organisations and leaders adopt cutting-edge approaches to developing their product and service offerings using design thinking and agile methodologies, these approaches and methods are rarely applied within the sales function. Mapping buyer journeys and personas and actively designing the sales engine taking into account the competitive landscape can significantly increase the chances of boosting sales growth. In fact by plugging the gaps in your sales narrative, a smartly designed Sales Engine could be the key differentiator in driving sales growth.
In fact by plugging the gaps in your sales narrative, a smartly designed Sales Engine could be the key differentiator in driving sales growth.
Companies that don’t innovate won’t survive the current threat of broad-based digital-led disruption. It’s critical that innovation isn’t restricted to your R&D Lab. It needs to permeate and percolate throughout your entire enterprise and everyone needs to be an innovator or an enabler of innovation.
Hiring the wrong people
It’s a myth that sales success is tied to having smooth-talking, mostly male, salespeople. While outspoken and the proverbial “hungry” sales people might be hiring favourites for their aggressive approach towards targets, in reality many buyers find pushy salespeople off-putting. People tend to trust and engage with straight-talking, honest and modest sales professionals, especially when it comes to enterprise sales. In fact, mild-mannered people and introverts often make really great salespeople!
It’s a myth that sales success is tied to having smooth-talking, mostly male, salespeople.
Therefore, a high maintenance “rock star” salesman — the proverbial “magic bullet” –- to end sales dysfunction can only do so much if the Sales Engine is designed poorly, or if your entire sales team is made of relentless and hungry salespeople.
Waiting too long
Companies often seek outside help when sales plateau or plummet, which is akin to resuscitating someone on life support! The best time to hire sales advisors, mentors or coaches and to scale your Sales Engine is when sales are on an upward trajectory or when its defying your own expectations.
Companies often seek outside help when sales plateau or plummet, which is akin to resuscitating someone on life support!
That’s when most business owners get complacent, failing to see possible pockets of disruption. In order to survive in today’s hyper competitive world, one has to constantly innovate, seek additional sources for revenue, or solidifying current revenue streams.
Lavindra De Silva, Managing Partner, Head of Sales Leadership Practice at Recalibrate Pvt. Ltd.
Lavindra is a sales evangelist, advisor and coach to disruptive startups and companies looking to expand into established and emerging global markets.