Top 11 Reasons Why Salespeople Fail to Close Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 19, 2011 @ 12:09 PM

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Today I coached a salesperson who thought he had call reluctance - but I didn't agree.  He was pushing through, making calls - although not as many as he should.  He has some need for approval - but since he needs approval from his boss he needs to make the calls in order to get it.  He needs some approval from his prospects but can't earn that unless he gets prospects on the phone and impresses them. So he actually has reason to pick up the phone and make calls.

I wondered whether he loved selling - enough.

I wondered whether he was committed - fully and unconditionally.

I wondered whether it was something else entirely...

The reason I'm bringing this up is that in most companies, when certain stages of the sales process are not being exectued as they should, executives often don't know why.  That's one of the many reasons why we evaluate Sales Forces - to identify root causes of the known (and unknown) problems.  The second reason is that problems are often misidentified.  For example, half of the calls and emails we receive each day ask us to conduct workshops/coaching/training/seminars on closing skills, even though closing skills are almost never the reason why salespeople fail to close sales.  With sales and salespeople, you need to work backwards from what you know, and ask many "could it be?" questions to identify the real problem and more importantly, the reason for the problem.

For instance, problems with closing (delays, put-offs, losses to the competition, pricing, etc.) happen for any or all of the following reasons:

  1. not a qualified opportunity
  2. salesperson did not present an ideal solution
  3. lack of urgency
  4. salesperson did not create/build value
  5. no compelling reasons to buy
  6. lack of posturing
  7. timeline misunderstood
  8. not selling to the correct person
  9. salespeople lack opportunities so they continue to work the lousy ones too
  10. salesperson presented too early in the process and then went into chase mode
  11. prospect never agreed to spend the money required
Even if you identify which of the reasons are responsible for the closing problem or challenge, you must go through that same process and identify 10 more possible causes for each reason - and go through that process repeatedly until you have identified the root problem.  The root problem will probably have nothing to do with selling skills!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, closing, prospecting, cold calls, presenting, sales assessments

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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