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Is Your Sales Team Struggling?

DATE PUBLISHED: September 10, 2014

leading sales teamIf they are meeting or exceeding their goals, your answer is likely "No." But any effective sales manager also knows that his or her teams' collective happiness can involve more than simply hitting their quarterly sales targets. Understanding all the elements that contribute to sales team's success is central to leading a sales team (and, for that matter, hitting those targets.) 

In other words, there's often times more to the story than the numbers would suggest. And so we'd like to look at seven signs — ranging from the obvious to not-so-obvious — that your sales team is struggling.

Your sales team may be struggling if....

1. They lack clarity around messaging. It's a basic question, but one that many sales managers have trouble answering: does your team know how to sell to leads? Given the diversity of your prospect base, there can be multiple answers to this question. Salespeople need to be equipped with a set of tools to help them effectively grasp your sales messaging: your brand, value proposition, how your service or product solves a specific problem, elements of differentiation with competitors, and examples of prior success. 

2. They are working within a broken system. By "system" we mean your sales process from lead generation to closing. This entire process encompasses multiple sub-steps, each with their own failure risks. Or, to look at it another way, even the most talented salesperson on your team may still struggle if the underlying processes are misaligned or poorly constructed. 

3. There are no consistent rules. One characteristic of a "broken" system is when one sales team does X and another does Y. It creates confusion, can hurt morale, and makes it difficult to accurately measure performance in a uniform manner. Ask yourself: are leads entered into your CRM system consistently? Are salespeople properly trained on this system? Are there penalties in place for non-compliance? 

4. The content itself is faulty. How can a salesperson effectively do their job if they're working from inaccurate or outdated buyer personas? Make sure sure the fundamental content underlying your process is accurate while optimizing the interface between marketing and sales.

5. They are attempting to meet inaccurate or unrealistic expectations. You may set an end of quarter goal that most salespeople fail to meet. Therefore, ask yourself: is it because most of your sales team is incompetent or were your goals unrealistic? For example, were you attempting to apply rigorous forecasts on a new opportunity type that was, collectively speaking, only at the top of the purchasing funnel?

6. They lack incentives. Now don't get us wrong: all salespeople have some sort of financial incentive, but sometimes this isn't enough. Salespeople, like any employee, will benefit from transparency into what is expected of them and, more importantly, a tangible career path. Do team members know its required of them to rise within the organization? What will their role be in two years, five years? What will make them want to stay at your firm?

7. They lack training. On a similar note, research suggests that best-in-class companies provide 3 to 5 hours of coaching per sales rep, per month. Not only does it make them better sales reps, it also makes them happier people.

Now we'd like your feedback. What are "warning signs" that suggest your team may be struggling? What processes are in place to circumvent some of these problems? What are other characteristics of an effective sales manager?

Need help in optimizing your sales processes from lead prospecting to closing? Contact us for a free consultation.


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