Goals are important in sales. Group sales goals help the team understand the big-picture vision for the company’s future, while individual goals help inspire each team member to do what they must to be a productive part of the team.
But what if your team isn’t hitting its goals consistently? What if you’ve come up dramatically short of your quarter-long target, or what if your individual players all seem to be floundering?
Your first job is to trace the root of the problem. Something is wrong with this equation, and it’s your job to figure it out. Fortunately, most problems can be categorized and understood as variations of these main issues:
1. Your goals are too ambitious. You should definitely push the limits of your sales team with your goals; if they’re too comfortable to achieve, you won’t see your true growth potential. However, if your goals are so ambitious they’re virtually impossible to achieve, your sales team will feel like they’re in a no-win situation. Bringing your goals back to a realistic level will help you achieve them more reliably—and motivate your team to work harder.
2. Your sales people are tied up. How much time are your salespeople spending each day on tasks like email? It’s probably more than you think. Every minute your salespeople spend in meetings, on email, and handling administrative tasks, they’re not selling, and that’s a problem. These are people trained and skilled in a specialized area, and you should be maximizing the time they spend in that specific area. Hiring complementary help and automating these tasks are your best bets to free up this time.
3. You aren’t offering the best deal. Have you compared your offer to your competitors’ offers lately? If you’re offering a similar product for twice the price, you can’t expect your salespeople to close the deal effectively. A good salesperson can make up for a handful of drawbacks or competitive weaknesses, but there’s nothing they can do if the deal just doesn’t make sense.
4. Your goals aren’t rewarding enough. What do your salespeople get if they hit their personal and team goals, and what do they get if they don’t hit them? You might think the intuitive answer here is to raise commissions to encourage more sales, or give cash bonuses out as a reward for hitting these goals—and it’s true that money can be a powerful motivator—but it isn’t the only motivator. Giving raises or bonuses can incentivize your team, but work to understand their wants and needs and give them other types of rewards as well, such as team lunches, flexible hours, or a celebration party when all’s said and done.
5. You haven’t done enough training. How much training and how many resources have you provided your sales team? You don’t have to have a six-month boot camp to get your sales staff ready, but you also can’t expect them to perform without at least some initial orientation. Spend at least a few weeks with all your new recruits giving them the strategies and tools they need to be successful in your space.
6. Your marketing strategy isn’t aligned. Your marketing and sales strategies are two halves of the same whole. If they aren’t working together, you aren’t going to see the results you want. For example, your sales team might be killing it with near-perfect execution of your strategy, but if the lead pool is weak due to a floundering lead generation strategy, they still may not see the results you want.
7. Your follow-up strategy is losing you valuable leads. The follow-up process is where most leads either become sales or drop off and become lost forever. Look carefully at the sales process, and see where you’re losing most of your leads. Is it upon initial contact? Or is it in the contact-less days between that first contact and the final sale? Reevaluate the types of communication you incorporate into your follow-up strategy, and what language you use within them. Sometimes, a simple change here is enough to boost your close rate.
Making the Fix
Do you recognize one or more of the above problems interfering with your team? If so, consider yourself lucky. Understanding the problem means you can correct it. Spend some time laying out new goals, establishing new protocols, or even working with individual team members—whatever it takes to influence a gradual change that eventually gets you where you want to be.