7 Reasons Why Your Sales Team Is Under-Performing
Updated: Oct 27
Sales and Marketing
We all know that sales drives revenue. And revenue, generally drives profit. So if sales are lagging, one can almost guarantee that profit will lag too.
Which is bad.
A business needs to continually drive sales. To do this, many businesses will have a sales person, a team of sales people (both outside and inside) or an entire department or business unit comprised of sales professionals.
The problem is, most sales departments, or most sales people are under-performing.
This is bad for a number of reasons;
First, in many companies, sales people are some of the highest, if not the highest wage earners in the business. So they had a substantial burden to a companies overhead costs.
Second, sales people generally consume a fair bit of the owners or senior managements time to manage and lead. Which means that you are investing considerable company resources to manage your sales team. Which adds to the expense of maintaining and operating a sales team.
Third, if the sales people aren't selling, that means that your manufacturing, operations or administrative staff are likely not being utilized to the extent that they could be. Which means that you are paying wages for employees to be at work without generating profit-producing activity.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Under-performing sales teams are bad for business.
Here are 7 reasons why your Sales Team is Under-performing:
1. Their Prospecting System is Not Working.
To generate sales, one must find people to sell to.
To accomplish this, many sales people cold call, send out cold emails, surf social media and conduct other time consuming activities that generate few leads and result in even fewer sales.
The prospecting system has to be fixed to focus on higher percentage activities like referral lead generation so that prospecting activities generate results.
2. There is No Defined Sales Strategy
This means that every sales person is allowed to conduct their sales activities in any manner that they choose. Whether these activities work or not.
Your sales team needs a detailed and current sales strategy. Without one, it's like asking a football team to execute a play to score a touchdown, but not everyone on the team has seen the playbook so they are all going a different direction. Sounds like the Cleveland Browns. It will never work.
3. They Have Confused 'Selling' with 'Customer Service.'
I see this problem a lot. Sales people are spending most of their time caring for their favorite or long standing accounts.
That's a problem because they are not even trying to up sell these customers (which they should be). And it's a problem because they are spending considerable time on an account that may well likely buy whether the sales person is babysitting them or not.
Leave the customer service to the lower paid customer service rep or the admin gal. Get your sales team out there prospecting new accounts.
4. They Make Excuses Not to Sell
I see this often. Sales people get involved in aspects of the business that is not part of their sales activity. They get involved with the manufacturing, operations, invoicing, shipping and receiving or a host of other non-sales related activities.
Sometimes this is an excuse not to sell. Sometimes it's part of a sales person's personality, they just want to control the full cycle of the sale to ensure that the customer is happy. And sometimes, I really don't know why this happens...
In any case, it's almost always a poor way to use such a valuable resource as a sales person.
5. They Don' Follow Up on Sales Leads
Sales leads don't always come easy. So when we get one, it needs to be followed up on. And in a very timely manner.
Some studies suggest that many companies only follow up on half of the leads that they get.
To improve this, sales people need to be documenting their activity and sales managers need to be tracking this to ensure that it is happening. If it's not documented, it's likely not happening.
6. Poor Management & Leadership
We can't always blame the sales person. In fact, you should be evaluating yourself and your management team first.
Have your hired someone that isn't a sales person and in all likelihood will never become one?
Have you identified a problem with your sales team but failed to act?
Have you neglected to provide the necessary training or coaching to put your team in a position to succeed?
Have you omitted creating an effective pricing system that will allow your team to quickly and competitively price your product or service?
Have you failed to provide accountability to your sales people?
The first place that I look when told that a sales team is under-performing is at whoever is responsible for the sales team, whether it's an owner or a manager, or both.
7. Focus on Results, Not the Process
Sometimes you can have a poor sales process, or no sales process and you still shoot out the lights. This normally happens in an up economy when everyone is the buying mood.
Ownership and management are happy because the results are good, so no attention is given to the process.
But what happens when the market place gets competitive and tight again? Have you improved and refined your sales process to still be successful in a tougher economy?
Focus on the process and the results will come.
If your sales team is under-performing, evaluate them against this list and see if you can quickly identify the underlying issue that is causing low performance levels.