Top 10 Reasons for Roller Coaster Sales Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 @ 17:08 PM stock market plunged on both Friday and Monday, made gains on Tuesday and Thursday, and they were sandwiched around another loss on Wednesday.  It's the proverbial roller coaster and that sounds very similar to sales performance, doesn't it?

We know why the market goes up and down - in hindsight - but we can never predict when.  Do we know why sales performance bounces up and down?  Here are my primary reasons for inconsistent sales performance:

  1. Inconsistent Sales Management - sales managers that don't hold their salespeople accountable to metrics that drive revenue on a daily basis, and who don't coach their salespeople every day can be heard singing, "I'd rather be lucky..."
  2. Lack of Focus - many salespeople are easily distracted and have difficulty remaining focused on the job at hand, especially when the job at hand involves more than just selling.  Those who tend to be event driven may work for days on a single opportunity and those who are task oriented may fail to get traction on enough meaningful opportunities.
  3. Lack of Motivation - many salespeople are simply not motivated enough to go to battle each and every day. It's bad enough that they must face off against prospects who don't want to talk with them, an economy with an identify crisis and competitors that don't play fair.  But they also must fight their own demons - those fears and self-limiting beliefs that play such a big part in the behaviors that lead to their less than record-setting outcomes.
  4. Lack of Skills - Objective Management Group has the data - the skills just aren't there!  74% of all salespeople are overwhelmingly mediocre, and as such, they succeed because they are lucky, not because they effectively follow and execute the sales process.  Unfortunately, luck is as consistent as the stock market.
  5. Lack of Commitment - Most salespeople stop short of asking the question that will lead to success.  As a matter of fact, they probably stop about 17 questions short of that outcome.  In other words, they have the opportunities, but take the path of least resistance, passively hoping that things will go their way, even if they weren't champions for their own cause.
  6. Rejection - By the way salespeople use it, you would think that technology had removed rejection from selling.  Instead, technology simply provides a way for salespeople to avoid rejection as they resort to email and LinkedIn to avoid being rejected over the phone.  Ironically, technology simply makes it easier for prospects to avoid and reject salespeople.
  7. Pipeline - I've said this a hundred times before.  The pipeline should be the single most accurate predictor of future revenue.  And it can be!  Unfortunately, despite the available technology that makes this so easy, salespeople and their managers just do not manage the pipeline to the degree that it is always stuffed with enough quality opportunities.
  8. Precedent - When salespeople have been allowed to perform inconsistently in the past, it sets precedent that inconsistency is OK now and in the future.
  9. Ambivalence - Who really cares when salespeople don't consistently hit their numbers?  I can tell you this; if the salespeople don't care, and their managers don't care, there won't be any urgency to fix anything because nobody thinks anything is broken.  The cure?
  10. Quotas - Why are companies lowering the damn quotas?
Of course there are more reasons, some of them obvious, some not so much.  What are your favorite theories as to why sales performance is so inconsistent?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales performance, sales assessments

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine 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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