Sales numbers are down and you’re starting to sweat. As a sales manager, you must act quickly to turn things around when you first see the numbers dip. You need to diagnose the problems and make changes immediately so your team doesn’t fall short of the sales goal for the quarter or year.
To help managers get to the root of their sales troubles, I’ve identified 12 common problems that can lead to a sales slump. By pivoting quickly and making a few key changes to your team and its process, you’ll see a boost to your sales.
1. Limited sales training – Sales reps can’t naturally catch onto your sales strategy and product strengths without the right preparation and tools. Extensive training on products, re-training on new products, sales skills classes, and more, are all necessary to adequately prepare your sales team.
2. Lack of Sales Coaching – Training should not be the end of the learning process for your reps. You need to implement consistent, one-on-one coaching for your reps to continue to improve sales skills and increase performance.
3. Lack of a sales process– If your sales reps aren’t aware of what sales techniques are working and which ones aren’t, it’s impossible for your team to improve. Create a detailed sales process to standardize successful selling methods across your team.
4. No visibility into the sales pipeline– If you’re not aware of every opportunity in your sales pipeline, you will lose control of your sales team. Use analytics to track key metrics like the behavior of closed/won deals, the length of your sales cycle, win rates, conversion rates by stage and the rate of growth for the overall pipeline.
5. Incorrect sales forecasting– If you’re not using historical data to extrapolate your sales quarter-to-quarter, you’re really just guessing and crossing your fingers. Use data analytics to improve the accuracy of your forecasts so you won’t miss your goals again.
6. Confusing quotas– Your sales reps should know exactly what goals they are required to meet each month, quarter, and year. If they’re not constantly aware of the goals, they may not work as hard. Try implementing asales leaderboard to push your team to reach competitive goals using gamification.
7. Confusing compensation– Similar to quotas, sales reps should know exactly how their compensation plan works. Your plan should be clear-cut and tie directly to sales results, motivating your team to sell hard.
8. Poor time management– Sales reps should be logging their activities daily in your CRM so you can monitor how many calls, meetings and demos they give per day. If you see a rep falling behind in activity levels, you can offer sales coaching to help them make more dials and improve results.
9. Bad objection handling– If your sales reps aren’t prepared to handle the standard sales objections that come up on a call, they will never succeed in closing a deal. You should have a playbook of common objections and train your team to expect people to resist the price, timing or another factor in the sale, and help them deal effectively with these objections to close.
10. Working unqualified opportunities– If there isn’t a sufficient process for qualifying leads, your sales team will struggle. Reps will waste time chasing prospects that don’t have enough pain, have no purchasing power, or have a long timeline and no urgency. Make a plan to qualify leads extensively before reps pick up the phone.
11. Misalignment with marketing– Aligning sales and marketing teams is always a challenge, but it is vital for sales success. If the handoff of leads between the two isn’t smooth, or the two groups have completely different goals, you’ll struggle to see sales results.
12. Product is devalued– The key to closing sales isn’t always offering a discount to the buyer. In fact, you may have accidentally devalued your own product by cutting your price too much. This can hurt margins and still not increase overall profits. Work with marketing to price your product, based on the perceived value of your product in the market.
Now that you understand some of the major pitfalls that can drag down your sales team, you can alter sales strategies, coaching, and communication to help your team succeed. By making some high-level changes, your sales team can turn things around and exceed its goals.
Zorian Rotenberg is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for InsightSquared, a provider of sales force analytics.