It’s inevitable by now that you’re in sales, and you haven’t read that in 2014, The Bridge Group, a consulting firm that does an annual study of the sales industry, reported that 50% of sales reps are not hitting their quotas. It could mean that you’re not hiring the right people or that your product is suddenly subpar but, rather than assume the worst, it’s better (and cheaper) to work with what you have. First, you need to know what to look out for. Below are signs you’re not hitting your quota and a few ideas of what you can do to get out of your rut in the best way possible.Your people aren’t focused
Science has shown us time and time again that when we focus we do our best work. Multitasking is possibly the worst fad that’s hit the workplace, and we need to guide our people back to productivity by encouraging focused work. If your people aren’t focused, you’re not getting their best out of them. This article by productivity nerd, Benjamin P. Hardy, suggests that people work best when we break up our days into tasks and schedule constant attention to them. To encourage a culture of productivity you can encourage your reps to schedule times to check emails; anything urgent deserves a phone call. You can also schedule meetings for the afternoon so that reps can focus on hard work in the morning; people do their best work shortly after waking up. If you want to try something different, loosen strict office hours, if possible. If your reps know they have eight hours to finish a task, they’ll take eight hours. If they know they can move on as soon as they’re done, they will finish much faster.
Your reps aren’t reaching out to the right people
Prospecting takes an incredible amount of time, and your sales reps are trained to close deals. This makes as much sense as sending a Ph.D. graduate to teach a kindergarten class how to tie their shoes. Which means that every time a sales rep makes a prospecting call, their experience doesn’t match the task. If you make 700 calls, you’ll get a response rate of 1-2% which means that 98-99% of the time, your reps aren’t calling the right people. Time is money, so you need to avoid this. One way to do so is to use inbound marketing to collect interested leads. However, don’t forget outbound! Prospecting calls are still valuable; it’s just that you need to divide your sales reps into prospectors and closers. Chances are, you have highly trained sales reps so you’ll need to hire reps with lower experience and train them to prospect only. This is costly so unless you have a huge budget and a knack for wasting it, we recommend outsourcing your cold calls to a sales call force platform that uses agents already trained to prospect. When your sales reps are calling warm leads, they’re calling the right people every time.
Your sales funnel is broken
A broken sales funnel and a missed quota go hand in hand like teenage lovers; it’s awkward to look at and so obviously not going to work. A broken sales funnel means that different areas of your sales organization aren’t communicating effectively, or they aren’t clear on their expectations and responsibilities. To encourage a culture of transparent communication, you need to organize your team and ensure that everyone has a particular task and set goals so that leads aren’t dropped or annoyed by too many touches. You’ll also need to ensure that you’re constantly evaluating and reevaluating your metrics and work backward to see if you’re reaching out to enough people to make quota. You’ll need to see how many customers you need, then historically how many leads convert to customers and how many prospects convert to leads. It’s vital that you’re working with data to set realistic goals.
Your people are burnt out
Sales is an exhausting job! You’ll notice that your people are burnt out both physically by looking at them and looking at their work. If Brenda started her employment by going to work well dressed and well groomed, you'd take notice when she starts coming in tights with a messy bun in her hair. Nothing wrong with that normally if her work is excellent but if her work matches her appearance, it’s clear that she’s burnt out. As her manager, you need to understand why that is and help her solve a problem (usually, lighten a load or offer additional training). Once you do, you’re more likely to hit your quota. To avoid burn out, you can review your sales funnel to make sure it’s realistic, outsource cold calls and encourage healthy work-life balance with workplace initiatives like yoga or meditation
You’re not learning anything new
Humans seek comfort but ironically, comfort holds us back from many achievements. If you’re not learning anything new, it could very well be a sign that you’re not hitting your quota. Why? Because learning new things and trying new things is the clearest way to growth. If it’s been months since you implemented a new tool, a new strategy, even new methods to reach out and speak with your customers, you’re not growing. To learn something new you could subscribe to a new blog or newsletter (we suggest HubsSpot, John Barrows, Medium), try a demo of a new tool (VOIQ, Slack), watch an inspiring video (how great leaders inspire action) or attend a conference (HubSpot made a whole list!). Whatever you do, make sure you’re keeping on top of trends and you're open to new ideas.
Hitting your quota is huge, especially if only half of sales teams are doing so now. But not making your quota isn’t only visible in your numbers. As a leader, you have to be aware of many things that will highlight if you’re not going to meeting your quota. It’s important to watch out for team members who aren’t focused or aren’t reach out to the right people, a broken sales funnel, a burnt out team or a lack of new information and new ideas. If you watch out for these signs and course-correct promptly, you’re sure to see a difference in your numbers, and you can boast about being on the safe side of a scary statistic.