While every sales leader wants their team to be closing deals non-stop and consistently knocking their revenue goal out of the park, there will always be ups and downs in sales. Because of that, you might find yourself in a position where you’re failing to achieve your sales goals.
When that’s the case, don’t panic. Identify what’s causing your dip in performance, collaborate with other members of your company to figure out how to overcome that problem and then work to implement a solution.
1. Audit Your Performance
The first thing you need to do when you’re not hitting your sales goals is step back and assess the situation. How long has this been going on? Is this a blip or is it a trend that needs to be course-corrected?
If something is a temporary issue that just needs to be waited out, you don’t want to overreact and make large changes that could hurt you further down the line.
Instead, always focus on controllables over uncontrollables. There will always be factors impacting a sales organization that are completely out of your control, and you can’t be actionable on things you cannot control.
The other overarching question to dive into is whether the lack of goal attainment was team-wide or if it only impacted certain team members. It’s common to have one or two individuals on your team each month fall short of their goals, but the other reps should make up for it so performance can average out across the team.
Dig into the “why”
You need to be able to answer the question “Why are we losing?” The first place to look for the answer to that question is within your reporting system.
If you document “reason lost,” that’s the first dashboard to look at. Are you seeing an increase in conflict over price or competitors? The reason you’re losing on paper might only be a slight indicator of the real issue though.
Another potential cause for why you’re not hitting your sales goals is change, so you should dive into any new developments that have occurred in the period leading up to you falling short of your revenue goal. Were there any changes within your industry, within your company or within your team?
The final aspect to dive into within your audit is team trends for the trailing six months. Win rates, number of deals closing, value of deals closing — have you seen decreases in those? If there is a trend, what’s causing that?
2. Communicate Insights to Stakeholders
Once you’ve completed your audit, the next step is to share the insights you’ve gained with your executives and the rest of your sales team.
It’s vital that executives are informed about any larger organizational issues impacting sales performance because you won’t be able to solve them on your own. And, at the individual level, you should be sharing with reps the trends you’re seeing and informing them of what role they play in that.
Once all stakeholders have an understanding of what’s leading to performance issues, you can work with your executive team to create a plan for addressing the issues that exist at the broader company level and outside of your organization. Then for the issues within your team, you can develop individualized coaching plans for sales reps.
3. Work to Solve the Issues
How to solve sales performance issues will depend on what’s causing the problems and at what level the problem exists.
You can solve individual performance issues with 1-on-1 coaching. Many team-wide problems can be addressed through operational improvements.
For example, if your corporate sales advisors are working too many small businesses, you can adjust your lead routing system so they’ll only be routed the ICPs they’re supposed to be working with.
For company-level issues, you’ll need to work with the rest of your organization to solve the problem.
For example, if you’re no longer finding success with your existing buyer personas, you can work with your marketing and services teams to re-evaluate buyer personas and ICPs. If you’re losing to a competitor because of product feature availability, you can work with your product team to make improvements or adjust messaging.
As you’re implementing potential solutions, you need to consider the timeline it’ll take for a change to impact your performance. Not everything will have a quick fix, and even problems that can be solved quickly at an individual level still won’t drive immediate results if you have a longer sales cycle.
For example, if a sales rep is focused on the wrong type of prospect, after that issue is identified, they’ll have to identify some good-fit prospects, nurture them and then work through the sales pipeline before you’d see an improvement in goal attainment.
What if the issues are out of your control?
Occasionally there will be issues occurring outside of your company that you are incapable of addressing. For instance, if a global event has caused your supply chain to be backed up preventing you from getting inventory of your best-selling product.
The first thing you should do in that situation is look for alternative ways to meet your goal. Can you run a spiff to incentivize your sales reps to focus on other product lines instead? Are customers willing to backorder the product?
If you’ve explored all the avenues of addressing the problem within your control and still can’t solve it, then you’ll need to reassess your goals.
Most of the time, there are multiple issues going on, it’s not just a single problem preventing you from hitting your goals. So, even if you are facing a big uncontrollable issue, there are likely smaller opportunities for improvement within your purview.
Prioritize the biggest challenges that need to be and can be addressed. Some things will require longer-term change management; others can be quick wins you can achieve on your own. A combination of both types of solutions is what’ll ultimately help you get your team back on track.
Beth is a Senior Manager of Revenue Operations at New Breed and specializes in optimizing how processes and platforms support revenue growth.