As you're coming to the end of Q4 and have more and more reports coming your way, a realization of what this year's numbers mean starts to sink in. Your team won't make it. And you don't know why. You hired promising salespeople; your marketing team seems to know what they're doing, and you know that what you sell hits the mark. You can't blame the economy; seeing how well your competitors are doing. It appears like your team is doing the best that they can. Then why are you thinking "why is my sales team not performing?" and "how do I fix this?"
Let's have a look at some potential problem areas and answer some questions to find out how you can turn your underperforming team around.
Did You Hire the Right People for the Job?
All your sales reps have previous experience and impressive resumes, some even worked for big names and delivered outstanding results yet when it comes to your organization, something just doesn't click. The core of the problem might be they don't align well with your industry. The dispute of whether a good salesperson can sell anything will remain unsolved forever, but one thing is certain, the people you hire need to have a good understanding of the industry you're in to perform their job well. It's not uncommon for someone in finance to jump into tech as long as they have the capabilities to adapt.
Some people might be better at inbound sales rather than outbound and while your business needs both, it is important to identify their strengths so you can allocate the right people for the right jobs. Are people that are naturally better at cold calling in the right place? How about those that excel at account management but struggle with picking up the phone to follow on a new lead?
Solution: Have a look at your sales team. Does everyone on your team align with your industry? Does the department bring out the best in your employees? A bit of matchmaking and positioning the right people in the right places within your organization, while having a closer look at the ones who may not be as suitable for your company, is something worth considering when looking for answers to low sales.
Is Your Sales Process Working?
Assuming you do have a sales process in place already, it is always a good idea to take a closer look to see if any of the steps call for amendments. Your sales process should be dynamic and flexible, answering to changing goals and needs of your customers. Revisiting it, measuring it, and ensuring it's followed correctly can uncover some potential issues. Even the best sales process won't yield results if not applied.
A proper sales process serves as a guide to your salespeople, it helps them stay on track and follow up on their leads promptly. Ran correctly, a sales process assists your sales team to better understand their prospects and will put more focus on high-quality leads. What's more, it allows new sales reps to better understand your unique business, making it more likely that they will produce results faster.
All of the above contributes to a better customer experience, which not only helps in closing more deals but also in retaining your existing customers. Clearly defining all of the steps in your sales process will not only improve the flow of your customer journey but also help your sales reps stay organized and help you in forecasting sales. Mapping it and putting it in place will soon uncover where your sales team may be struggling.
- Look at your existing sales process: keep a keen eye for steps where your prospects usually back out, which actions prove to be effective, and which ones don't add any value
- Look at the timelines: does it take too long for your team to follow up with their lead? Or are timelines too short and end up scaring your prospects away?
- Is the sales process followed correctly: are all your sales reps following the process correctly? If not, what are the probable causes, and be sure to address them
- Listen to your reps' calls: you will want to see how they put the process into practice before you make any decisions
- Talk to your best-performing reps: talking to your best-performing reps will uncover how they apply your sales process or if they apply it at all
- Talk to your struggling reps: talking with your underperforming reps is valuable to find out what challenges they are facing. Are they using your process or not at all?
- Does your process still align with your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile): think about your process from the prospect's perspective. Does it address their pain points?
- Is your tech stack right: look at your tech stack. Does your team need more tools? Do you need to consolidate your teams' tools? Or do they know how to use the tools they have been given?
Find out how to properly measure the success of your sales process.
Are You a Stranger to Technology?
If your organization isn't yet leveraging sales tools, you are missing out. There is a plethora of tools designed to help your team stay organized by eliminating time-consuming administrative tasks, improving your sales processes, and nourishing your customer relationships. Whatever your pain points are, there are tech-selling tools out there to help you. Selecting the right tool to suit your needs can seem overwhelming at first but narrowing down your requirements and matching them with the right software can be life-changing both for your team's productivity and for your figures.
Solution: Including an efficient sales tool in your budget is a low-investment and high-return strategy if used correctly. Choose from analytics and reporting tools, CRM software, sales forecasting tools, workflow tools, automation systems, or pipeline software tools. Best case scenario - integrate them all to create a well-rounded tech stack that helps your teams handle and use data. This will not only automate a lot of mundane tasks for your sales reps, but it will also help you plan, execute, and measure your team's efforts.
Can Your Sales Reps Cope with the Workload?
You want to see your team stay engaged, occupied, and on top of their daily tasks. After all, burnout doesn't always come from overworking. Some people who experience burnout often lose their passion when they're not stimulated and/ or not challenged enough. Finding the sweet spot can be hard, especially in times of sudden growth or an influx of new customers. Scaling your team is costly and time-consuming, and it may not be possible for you to scale at this time.
Your sales reps missing deadlines and not hitting their goals may not necessarily be a sign of laziness or lack of organizational skills. They might simply be unable to cope with the workload, especially if your sales process calls for too many and often repetitive administrative tasks or if they're wearing too many "hats".
Solution: Hiring and training new reps and leveraging technology to help automate some of the tasks seems like the best solution. And it is typically the right answer, but it can come with a catch - the cost of hiring, onboarding, training, and maintaining new reps. Plus, the cost of the benefits, commissions, bonuses, additional equipment, or a new tech stack can accumulate rapidly. Outsourcing your sales solves all of these problems while creating a solution that doesn't only save you the above costs but also provides you with quick access to top-performing sales reps.
Do Your Sales Reps Listen to Their Prospects?
Storytelling and being persuasive are one of the best skills your sales reps can possess. However, they'll only work when paired with listening. Going for a hard sale with a perfectly crafted but "cold pitch" can make your reps seem pushy. Active listening helps your team understand the prospect’s needs, builds rapport, and improves your value proposition. It is also a great tool for uncovering a prospect’s pain points that can help your reps further in solution selling.
Solution: It may sound counterintuitive, but your rep's first call shouldn't be focused on selling. You want them to ask questions, be curious, and empathetic while building a relationship with the prospect. This way, by the time they get to their pitch - they will know exactly how to position themselves to offer value to their prospects. 72% of top performers report using a sales process that puts the needs of the buyer first. People do not like to be sold to however, they do like it when their needs are met, and problems solved. Active listening contributes to improvements in the service you provide - uncovering your prospect's pain points can serve as feedback to you about what your product is and isn't capable of solving for them.
Are Your Leaders Effective?
Your leaders are under an immense amount of pressure. They are held accountable for their team's performance while being responsible for creating an environment for their teams to thrive. 69% of salespeople who exceeded their annual quota rated their sales manager as being excellent or above average. A team's low performance can indicate deeper leadership issues. These can range from inadequate management style to a lack of drive or focus resulting in no control over the sales process and subsequently, no or little control over their teams. All of the above can have a negative impact both on sales and on the team's morale.
Solution: Your leaders are the foundation of your organization. Therefore, they should be treated and nurtured as such. Investing in professional development programs, such as leadership workshops have proven to be highly effective in gaining skills and having a deeper understanding of each individual's leadership styles that can be built upon to create impactful and confident leaders. Moreover, leadership trainings help build a culture of high performance which in turn increases the team's productivity and lowers attrition.
Does Your Team Follow up on Their Prospects?
Did you know that 48% of sales reps never follow up? Following up on prospects is one of the simplest ways to show that your team cares not only about making the sale but about nurturing the relationship with customers. Which holds the power to differentiate your business and influence a positive customer experience. It helps retain your existing customers and offers additional upselling opportunities. Yet, follow-ups are hugely underutilized. Ask yourself, does your sales process include follow-ups? Are your sales reps focused and organized enough to follow up on an older lead before picking up the phone and starting the sales process all over again with someone new?
Solution: 94% of sales reps give up after 4 follow-ups while 80 % of sales require 5 follow-up calls. Your team's perception might be that their follow-ups are not yielding results. There are a few things your team can do today to change that. The cadence of phone calls and emails is especially important. Once a week seems to be a magic number that isn't too frequent but also isn't spread out so much that your rep's prospect has the time to forget who they are. Using different mediums - such as phone calls, emails, or messages is helpful in adding a more personal touch to the process. Using CRM technology designed to help your team keep on track and schedule their next touch point or even automating some of it can and will have an impact on your team's performance.
Make Sales Outsourcing Your Strategy
The reasons for your team's poor performance can be plentiful and the strategy you implemented at the start of the year might not be suited to today's economic climate. The sales world is very dynamic and so should be your approach to it.
MarketStar offers solutions to every one of the problems in this article. From recruiting and training top performers to "leaders who amplify" and "masters of our craft" in inside sales, partner channel sales, digital advertising sales, customer retention, renewals, and more.
Find out more about our outsourced direct inside sales solutions here: