It’s no secret that salespeople are currently fighting a battle with many fronts. Macro events like the pandemic, war in Ukraine, and record inflation have disrupted not only the supply chain, but also the way salespeople conduct their day-to-day business.
As we pass the half-way point of the year, sales managers may start to hear a few grumblings that quotas are too high. While it’s wise to reassess sales targets to make sure they are realistic, assuming they are too high might be a mistake.
Forbes reported that in 2017 that 57% of sales reps failed to meet quota. So, missed quotas are not a new phenomenon, meaning current macro events could be nothing more than a red herring. Discerning whether the push back is merited requires some diligence on the part of the sales leader.
A complaint that quotas are too high is really just a seller pushing on you for some reason. The rep either wants to get out from under the burden of hitting their number, or, there may be something going on that the rep needs help working through.
It is a signal that you need to dig deeper.
Handling Your Team’s Concerns Like a Salesperson
In our IMPACT Selling® Seminar we teach learners about 3 Deep Questioning, which involves asking deeper questions to reveal the facts, emotions, and core issues behind what’s happening.
Sales leaders need to think like a salesperson and do the same thing. They can do this by asking themselves (and their team), “what’s really going on?”. This is particularly important if multiple people are saying the same thing about their numbers, the challenges they face, and the selling environment.
Sudden changes to the way business is done can reveal an underlying issue that’s been there all along, it’s just now causing problems. For example, salespeople who are less able to rely on their ability to close deals by creating strong in-person relationships are probably struggling with the transition to virtual meetings.
People sometimes have difficulty identifying the root cause of a sales slump or problem. Asking enough of the right questions will help you start to discern whether or not a quota is too high.
Why You Need To Follow a Proven Selling System
At The Brooks Group, we teach a six-step sales methodology, and constantly find that when salespeople follow the six steps — in order and at the same pace as their customers — success rates go way up. We also know that sales leaders who ensure a process is in place and coach to that process, have a more successful sales team.
The first time we speak to potential customers they usually describe a very acute pain point; that sellers don’t know how to negotiate or close deals. After a brief conversation our sales team typically discovers the company doesn’t have a sales methodology in place, and that is the root cause of the problem.
The reason salespeople aren’t closing deals isn’t because they don’t know how, it’s because they’re missing critical steps in the sales process that must occur before it’s time to ask for the sale.
It could be the salesperson hasn’t established rapport, or built enough trust because they haven’t been able to meet with customers face-to-face like they could pre-covid. Or perhaps they’ve spent the year doing nothing but delivering bad news, which always hurts trust.
Sales leaders need to think of ways they can be of better service to their team by making sure they have the tools and training they need to be successful in the competitive landscape they’re in.
There is a saying that you can either ask for a lighter load, or a stronger back. Here are a few practical steps you can take to do the latter:
- Meet with each seller and have a conversation about how they’re doing.
- Do an audit on their pipeline.
- Audit your sales process. Do you have one? Have you set appropriate KPIs for each stage? Are you monitoring them?
- Talk to a few clients to understand what their view of the marketplace is. Sellers usually believe customers don’t buy because the price is too high, while customers often cite reasons like on-time delivery.
- Conduct a post mortem on closed-won and closed-lost deals.
- Do a competitor review. Figure out how they position themselves in the marketplace to help drive strategy behind your own positioning, branding, and messaging.
- Learn a proven selling strategy and coach your salespeople with it.
The last point is the most important in the list. The “Great Resignation” has changed the dynamic of many sales teams by adding lots of new hires with varying levels of experience and different sales methodologies into the team.
I can’t stress how important it is for everybody in your company (sales, management, marketing, and customer service) to know and understand the singular sales process that you have in place. It is impossible for a sales leader to coach to a philosophy brought in by a new hire that they don’t know.
Does Your Team Think Their Numbers Are Too High?
If they do, we’d love to hear about it. We specialize in helping salespeople turn things around, so they can transition from struggling-to-hit-quota to never worrying about it again. We have more free resources than I can name here, so if you give us a call we can share the right ones with you. We would also be honored to provide you with any assessments you need to hire the right people, speak at your annual sales meeting, or conduct a live, in-person (or virtual) instructor-led sales training. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can be of assistance, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to chat, or are interested in getting a copy of our new book Agile & Resilient: Sales Leadership for the New Normal.