In a recent study conducted by the TAS Group, it was revealed that 67% of sales professionals don’t meet their quotas.
This is a scary proposition for sales professionals and company leadership as growth is so central to a company’s strategy. How is this happening? And, what is the result of this trend?
First things first, although we can’t draw direct correlations to the following, it does make one wonder why sales professionals and sales leadership have an average lifespan of a few years at any given company. I’m sure this is a mixture of people not meeting quota but also the modern day reality of wanting to try new things and experiment with our careers. But it does make you wonder if people are being let go or leave because they don’t see the opportunity to make quota.
However, when we take a look at the reasons for why this trend of not meeting quota persists, a few stick out the most.
1. Not Enough Conversations in the Market
Let’s face it, sales professionals are struggling to talk to people in the market. Despite the incredible training solutions your company may provide, sales people just aren’t having enough conversations with prospects.
What’s causing this?
I believe it’s a mixture of things but the way we prospect today has a lot to do with it. Buyers are cautious and wary of sales professionals and stereotype our intent. While this may not be fair, it’s the reality we’ve created for ourselves based on years of abusive prospecting patterns.
Secondly, we’re not having enough conversations because most buyers aren’t picking up cold calls or answering cold emails these days. They’re bombarded with sales pitches and they’re tired of it.
Guess who suffers? All of us.
2. Lack of Education – on the Sales Professional’s Part
No, I’m not talking about training my friends. I’m specifically calling out that most of us don’t do enough research to be educated about the prospects we want to do business with. And with the abundance of free information available online, is there a reason why this important step isn’t taken more seriously in most sales methodologies and processes?
Being educated about our prospects comes in many forms – it’s about knowing their likes, dislikes, if and how they collaborate with others, their industries, and more.
3. Not Knowing Creative Ways to Start Conversations
If prospects are picking up the phone less and answering our cold and overly-templated emails less, does this mean we give up? Should we pack up and call it a day?
If we’re willing to get educated about a buyer’s specific pain points, then we can far more contextual in our outreach. Take a look at this incredible example of HubSpot does it.
Their sales professionals reach out based on known interest points, but also create demand based on this. This…is…powerful!
While I don’t expect the sales professional to action this, I would press marketing departments to own these types of demand generation initiatives. There is plenty of opportunity in virtually every industry.
Before you think this doesn’t apply to your industry, let me share with you that a company that makes boilers – yes, those big machines that heat up rooms in buildings and homes – does this quite well. They have taught their sales professionals to sniff out pains based on research they do online, and then have created compelling campaigns to get prospects talking.
How Social Selling Can Help
While social selling isn’t the magic pill for all of these problems, it certainly can help in making life better for the sales professional.
Social enables us to start conversations based on proper research and publicly available information. If done correctly, it’s a great complement to your existing sales process, because it allows you to speak to buyers on multiple levels.
For example, it helps with doing research that’s over and above the standard info that most info-tools provide (I shall leave these tools nameless here). I’ve had prospects routinely say to me how well I’ve come prepared to calls – and I have no problem showing them how I did it. I’ve always found that these buyers want to buy, they just don’t want to be sold to in the same old way.
The Bottom Line
I believe company leadership has an incredible opportunity to enable sales teams by empowering them with modern selling methods. We shouldn’t have to wonder why the tenure of the average sales professional and leader is less than a few years.
In fact, think about the economic disadvantage. Over that period of time while the sales professional is on payroll, companies will spend 10-20% of their salary on training. For the sales professional earning an average of $100K/year, costs begin to add up.
While social isn’t a panacea, it certainly is a smart and aggressive way to boost most status quo sales processes.