Why Do So Many Salespeople Fail to Make Quota?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 @ 09:04 AM

quotaThe statistics are staggering.  In some sectors, fewer than 25% of all salespeople will make quota in 2012. Even best-in-class companies are lucky when fewer than 80% of their salespeople make quota.  Are you OK with it when your own salespeople fail to make quota?  There are a number of possible reasons for this widespread mediocrity and failure and, depending on the company, some or all of them may apply.

Sales Management is a common reason and it transcends industries and sizes.  Jonathan Farrington, CEO of TopSalesWorld.com, completed a terrific interview with me for TopSalesManagementWorld.com and the resulting 10-minute audio clip does a great job explaining sales management's role in quota-failure.  

Salespeople just aren't very good!  Objective Management Group's statistics show that 74% of all salespeople suck.  Whether it's a result of poor selection, lack of training, ineffective coaching or lack of practice, the causes vary by company and salesperson.  This article by Jason Schwartz provides a great example of one of the many things that salespeople do wrong.

The Quotas themselves are often unrealistic and based not on a salesperson's capabilities, but rather on how much a territory or vertical should grow in the next 12 months, or on what a company needs from each salesperson.  

Sales Strategies can play a role in salespeople failing to make quota.  Positioning a company as a low-cost leader doesn't work if they don't have the best prices every single time.  And, positioning it as a value-added company can be a disaster if its salespeople aren't extremely skilled at selling value via a consultative sale.

For most companies, Sales Models, Methodologies and Processes are outdated and ineffective, causing salespeople to be inefficient and waste tremendous amounts of time with prospects who, in the end, don't buy, and with sales cycles that take much longer than they should.

We can add conditions like complacency, turnover, morale, compensation, product quality, support, reputation and more to the list, but we're out of space and time.  We can even add a reluctance to invest in outside resources like assessments, training, consulting and coaching.

I'll be helping sales leaders with most of the issues discussed in this article and much more at next month's Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston.  Email me if you are interested in attending.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, sales strategies, training, sales quotas, jonathan farrington

My Sales Process, Strategies and Tactics in Your Voice

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 18, 2010 @ 06:10 AM

Our son has this comedy routine by John Pinette down cold.  He heard it once and can now do it for anyone.

There is just one problem.  Our son is 8 and weighs all of 67 pounds so even though the routine is hysterical, it becomes very obvious, very quickly, that it isn't his own material and it isn't about him because it's not in his voice.  It's not credible.

When salespeople go through the sales training process (real sales development, not a seminar), there is a danger that they will extract tactics that worked very effectively in the context of the demonstration, but that might not be appropriate for the context in which the salesperson chooses to use it.  And just as often, when the salesperson applies the tactic it doesn't sound like them. 

It is extremely important for your salespeople to utilize the strategies and tactics in the context of the sales process that was introduced - AND IN THEIR OWN VOICE.  They can't ever stop sounding like themselves!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales strategies, Sales Tactics, salespeople

Best Sales Strategy For Your Company

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 18, 2010 @ 05:05 AM

angry on phoneWhat would you do if one of your sales reps called at 5 PM on a Friday, the last day of the month, on the final day of a bad quarter and said, "Good News - I closed ___________!"(insert any huge company here)

You'd get excited, your heart would beat a little faster, you'd feel relieved because things seem to be turning around, and you're thinking, "This is good, damn it."

You ask, "What did you close them for?"

Your salesperson responds, "They bought a ___________."
(the least expensive thing in the smallest possible quantity)

You know that  it would have been more appropriate for them to buy a _________________.
(the most expensive thing you sell)

You yell, "What?  Are you kidding? How did that happen?  And you're calling me to brag about it?  Are you crazy?"

The salesperson says, "But we're in!"

So here are some questions for you; 

Is it better to "be in" with something sold today, or to still be out, and hoping to sell them the appropriate solution tomorrow?

Is it better to say "they're a customer" now, or is it better to wait and do it the right way later?

Is it better to know you have to sell them one more time, or take a chance that you may never have the chance to sell them what they really need?

Let's explore the opposite scenario.

Let's say that you failed to close a company who decided against buying what you were trying to sell them.  Does it make any sense to return to them and offer to sell them what they are willing to buy?

These situations occur on a daily basis in most companies, (at least the companies with enough activity taking place) and everybody has a different preference as to how they should be handled.  What would you do?

Scenario 1 - happy to sell them something or wait to sell them the right solution?

Scenario 2 - return and try to sell what they're willing to buy or move on?

Here's another way of looking at it. In scenario 1, you waited to sell them the right solution and they wouldn't buy it.  So now you have moved to scenario 2...



Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Force, sales strategies, salesperson, selling to big companies

Former IBM Pro Lashes Out Over Sales Assessment

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 17, 2009 @ 06:02 AM

A CEO of a fairly large-sized but under-performing OEM asked us to evaluate his sales force.  One of the three regional managers, who assessed as poorly as any regional manager could, called to complain about his results.  In addition to calling me a toad, Bob said that in the eighties he used to sell and manage at IBM and he led the top performing team.  He finished by letting me know that we didn't know what we were talking about and, by the way, he would be picking me up at the airport for the kick-off of their national training initiative.

It was a quiet ride (his choice) to the site of the training, where, for the first three hours, Bob stood in the back of the room, stoic, arms folded, attempting to intimidate me through his thick, black glasses. (I don't think it's possible to accomplish the intimidation thing with me but he did try really hard!)

At the lunch break Bob approached me and said, "You know, I've learned more about sales and sales management in the last three hours than I ever learned at IBM.  I've reconsidered what I said to you on the phone.  Your assessment was right on.  I don't have the skills or the strengths you've been talking about.  At IBM, we were the market leader, people wanted to buy from us and all I had to do was leverage our position in the marketplace.  I apologize for giving you a hard time.  But you're still a toad."

Even today, brand leaders, price leaders, and technology leaders all have a false sense of sales and sales management competency.  Are they truly succeeding because of their sales and sales management effectiveness?  The true tests always come when these successful sales executives leave to take a position at a company that is under performing.  Can they repeat the magic?  Can they extend their track record?  Can they add another success to their resume? 

Most find out, and rather quickly, that it ain't so easy to join an underdog and succeed without a deep set of sales competencies, disciplines, strategies and tactics.  Sadly, the executives that hire them find out too, that when they hire a sales or sales management star from a well-known company, their expectations will often fail to be met.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales skills, sales strategies, Sales Tactics, sales evaluation, IBM, OEM, sales manager, regional sales manager, sales disciplines, sales assessment test, sales test

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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