Being a sales person is not an easy task. Out of the 22+ million sales representatives working in North America, only 40 percent will consistently hit their sales targets, while the other 60 percent will fail to close deals. Why do some sales people succeed while others fail? Here are seven reasons compiled by Matthew Cook as to why some reps just can’t close deals.
- Poor Listening Skills– New and mediocre sales people will do sales presentations instead of determining what their prospects actually want and why. They think that if they drill down hard enough and push hard enough, they’ll get the sale. But all this leads to is resentment. Prospects feel disrespected and neglected when it’s clear that the sales rep only cares about the sale, and not their needs. The best sales pros have great listening skills. They listen to the needs of the clients: their pain points, their desires, their objections, and their concerns. They ask the right probing questions and actively listen to the answers, which offer insights into the prospects’ wants and desires. Through active listening, they can then better meet their clients’ needs, while also making them feel cared for and valued at the same time.
- Poor Organizational Skills– The best sales professionals understand that they need to know their prospects, businesses, competition, and industry, taking time beforehand to learn this information. Not being organized enough to do research will make sales reps look unprepared and inefficient at their jobs, which will not resonate well when your sales people are supposed to be advisers who know everything. In addition, there is a lot of follow-through and follow-up required on requests, research, new contacts, contracts, and deals. If sales professionals aren’t organized, these actions will fall through the cracks. Sales people do not need to have a neat office and a perfectly organized filing cabinet, but they do need to follow through on their promises and take required action when needed. Knowing their priorities and following a system for following up and following through is critical to gaining trust, building relationships, and closing deals.
- Aggressive Sales Tactics– Though aggressive sales tactics have a time and a place, they shouldn’t be used as the first line of defense. Especially when it comes to inbound prospects, persuasion and manipulation will lead to sales resistance and a low closing rate. These sales tactics are largely obsolete in today’s marketplace. Customers no longer want to be talked at and sold to so sales people need to update their strategies to be compatible with the way customers want to buy today.
- Bad Manager– Not all sales people fail because of their own actions or inaction. Others are set up to fail by bad sales managers. Many managers fail to do their jobs effectively having poor communication skills that may lead to unclear standards and expectations. They could have an ineffective management style or may not have enough managerial or sales experience to excel at the position. Try as they might, some sales reps will fail simply because they’re not given the opportunities to succeed under their current sales managers.
- Lack of Leads– Cold calling is difficult, and it’s an ineffective selling method in today’s digital world. Sales people who are expected to make X amount of sales through cold calling alone might fail due to unrealistic expectations. This technique is an interruptive selling technique that targets people who simply aren’t interested in buying. To be successful, sales people need leads. Implementing inbound marketing can allow you to build the consistent stream of leads that your sales people need to close deals. Inbound leads are already interested and knowledgeable about your company and offerings and are far more receptive to sales people’s offerings, making sales more likely.
- Lack of Qualified Activity– Sales people need more than just leads, they need qualified, sales-ready leads in order to close deals. Even if your sales people are generating 40 to 50 new contacts every single day due to inbound activity, they still might not close one deal because these contacts aren’t qualified. Using predictive lead scoring and implementing a lead nurturing process can help ensure that the leads that are sent to your sales people are willing and ready to buy. In addition, arming your sales reps with the right lead intelligence and the right questions to help them get a better understanding of where they are in the sales cycle can help them have more relevant conversations with the prospects in order to increase the chance of a sale.
- Lack of an Effective Sales Process– Micromanaging a sales team doesn’t lead to improved performance, but neither does allowing reps to do their own thing. Without an effective and consistent sales process, sales reps are left to their own devices. They handle all sales opportunities differently, without consistency, which means that their efforts are hit or miss. Creating and implementing a sales process that works, one that offers structure but also provides some leeway, can help your sales reps get the highest probability of producing high close rates.
Many factors will lead to failure in sales. Sometimes, the sales reps themselves will make their own beds, through poor listening skills, poor organizational skills, and the use of aggressive sales tactics. But other times, these sales professionals are set up to fail, through bad sales managers, ineffective or non-existent sales processes, poor lead generation, and poor lead qualification. Increasing sales performance is a company-wide effort that requires changes on behalf of the marketing department, the sales manager, and the sales people themselves.