Sales teams are in the second half of the year working hard to reach sales goals. It's safe to say that more than one CEO or sales manager is scratching their head, wondering why their sales team is missing goals. After all, the sales manager has managed the numbers, the sales team has a robust CRM platform and the company just revamped its website to improve its image and traffic.
It's time to look beyond the obvious and drill down into two common reasons for missing revenue goals.
Reason #1: Ineffective sales pipeline management. Too many sales organizations believe that sales is just a numbers game. And to a certain extent, it is. But it's a quality numbers game. I have seen a lot of hard-working salespeople hit all the sales activity metrics and still have empty sales pipelines. Why?
The company is unclear about its ideal customer. The sales team is busy pursuing prospects that can't or won't buy. In developing a target list, many sales organizations focus on the demographics of their ideal prospect, based on:
- Size of company
- Number of locations
- Company revenue
- Number of employees
But missing in this analysis and approach is the psychographics, which refers to the attitude of your potential client. For example, if your company sells on value, it's hard to sell to a prospect that only wants the lowest price. It's an overused analogy but it's like Nordstrom's trying to attract a Walmart fan---not happening---even with great selling skills. If your company sells innovative products, it's very hard to sell to a prospect that doesn't value progressive thinking.
My first question when debriefing a sales opportunity that didn't close is, "Should you have even been there in the first place?"
Reason #2: Lack of skill development. Let's assume your company has done a good job of defining your ideal client. Your sales organization might be missing revenue goals because your sales team hasn't been trained on each prospecting skill required to fill the pipeline. For example:
- If your sales team is charged with cold/warm calling, has your sales organization created customized value propositions for each buying influence, industry, pain point or competitor gap? Or is the team using a one-size-fits-all approach that quickly demonstrates your salesperson doesn't have a clue about the prospect's business.
- Maybe your sales team uses email and LinkedIn for prospecting. This outreach requires good copy writing skills. And since most salespeople haven't been taught how to write good sales copy, their outreach message is often one that is self-focused, product-focused, and quite boring.
- And the list goes on. Networking skills, speaking skills, referral skills. All of these sales activities require skill development.
There are many areas to evaluate when missing sales forecasts. Start by getting crystal on your ideal client. Then teach your sales team the various prospecting skills needed to start relevant sales conversations.