As we near the end of the first quarter of 2019, I find that I am being bombarded with questions from business owners as to why their salespeople are struggling to achieve the company sales goal. They say things like:
"My salespeople are continuously busy and seem to be doing the right things, but the results of their efforts continuously fall short of the mark."
"My bottom line is shrinking and I find it difficult to forecast my sales."
"My salespeople have lackluster performance and are blaming prospects for the lack of results."
In my experience, 80% of salespeople have not committed to the behavior and beliefs it takes to be successful, and instead focus on busy work, as this is their comfort zone. Their typical activity consists of repetitive patterns that burn the hours of their workday but rarely deliver high quality results.
On the other hand, the 20% who display unconditional commitment to selling success typically outperform the combined other 80% when it comes to quota achievement. I have tested many thousands of salespeople and have made a study of the common behaviors and traits all top performers share. I'm sure there are many more, but I have listed a few so you can analyze your team:
Sales Process: Do your salespeople follow a sales template that makes quota achievement predictable? The average salesperson has a "wing it" mentality, so results are impossible to consistently forecast.
Prospecting: Do your salespeople spend 60% of their week hunting for new business? New business is the lifeblood of a company's growth and should be the focus for each member of the sales team.
Qualifying Opportunity: Do your salespeople qualify the opportunity as well as the prospect? All proposals should be qualified, so company time and resources are not burned on proposals having no chance of closing.
Closing: Do your salespeople have a closing rate above 70%? If their closing rate is extremely low, they are misreading the buyer's intentions and hoping their presentation will work magic.
Time Management: Do your salespeople use time effectively or do they waste most of their precious selling time performing tasks that have no impact on selling success? When I do a time study of the typical salesperson, I find they waste 40% of their day on busy work!
Ambition & Drive: Do your salespeople set high-performance goals that stretch them and relentlessly pursue them, or do they fizzle out at about 85% of their sales goal? Ambition & drive is the sales motor that delivers success.
Low Need for Approval: Do your salespeople believe that being liked by the prospect is a key ingredient of their sales process? Salespeople with a high need for approval never ask difficult questions, as they are afraid of upsetting the relationship.
Self-responsibility: Do your salespeople personally hold themselves accountable for success or have they perfected the art of excuse-making? Managers who accept the same tired excuses enable mediocrity.
Initiative: Do your sales people take all the necessary actions without being told, or do they display "learned helplessness" waiting for you to pressure them to perform? Initiative is measured by the way your salespeople overcome the obstacles that rob them of selling success.
If you are struggling to hit your sales goals early in 2019, it's time to review the behavior of your sales team. It doesn't take a crystal ball to see that a year that starts wrong typically ends in disaster. Make sure your salespeople bring their "A" game to the marketplace everyday and stop rewarding mediocrity.
Go conquer your worlds!
• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. firstname.lastname@example.org. Text "salestip" to 35893 to receive Bill's biweekly newsletter.