It is clear that there can be no profits without adequate sales. More sales should lead to better profitability, a healthier and more successful organization. The essential role of the sales team and its effectiveness thus has a direct impact on the organization’s success. When the business underperforms, it is time to seek ways to achieve sales improvement.

The Importance of Sales Goals

While sales goals or targets are important to set expectations and measure performance, it is also important that those targets are healthy and reasonable. Unrealistic sales goals can be counterproductive, even leading to the falsifying problems that caused significant fines for Wells Fargo years ago. As author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “The fact is that you can’t hit a target that you can’t see. If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up someplace else. You have to have goals.”

Salespeople are naturally competitive, and they want to succeed, even win. So, providing sales goals provides healthy competition and motivation for solid sales performance.

Signs of an Underperforming Sales Team

It is time for some modifying actions when these signs indicate that sales improvement is called for:

  • Many individuals and the team in total are not consistently hitting their sales targets.
  • It is apparent that team members are spending too much time on social media or other distracting activities.
  • There are insufficient sales leads to prospect.
  • The record of follow-up actions on leads indicates that salespeople are giving up too easily.
  • There is evidence of poorly defined, incomplete, or inconsistent sales processes. Perhaps these processes are not well-aligned with business goals.

How to Improve Sales Performance

Sales improvement can be achieved by:

  1. Getting to the root causes of missing sales targets. This will involve some deep examination, asking repeated questions, and looking at all aspects of the sales processes.
  2. Asking if you have “the right people on the bus and in the right seats.” Sales is a matter of talent and skills and if you don’t have the right people with the right skillsets doing the work, sales improvement will be hard to achieve. Do your salespeople have the right people skills and are those skills well-developed?
  3. Defining an improved formal program for acquiring and qualifying all leads. That includes defining the ideal customer, developing lead sources, and capturing good leads. Good follow-up is key to effective sales results. That follow-up should be documented to optimize the sales follow-up processes.
  4. Developing improved formal sales training and coaching processes.
  5. Determining if the customer journey and the sales process are well-aligned.
  6. Seeing if the best possible sales approaches are being utilized.
  7. Identifying if the working environment is uncomfortable, hindering motivation, morale, and productivity. Also, look for poor staff relationships.
  8. Reviewing the sales content to see if any deficiencies are having an impact on selling effectiveness.
  9. Examining product performance. If there are unresolved defects and problems with a company’s products or services, the number of customer complaints and concerns can certainly undermine or block sales effectiveness.
  10. Rethinking your compensation strategy for sales improvement. There may be better ways to motivate and keep all sales reps more deeply engaged.
  11. Emphasizing cooperation over competition.

To Achieve Sales Success, Seek Outside Expertise

As a fractional VP of Sales, James Bellew works with small to medium-sized business owners to build or rebuild their sales organizations. That includes sales strategy, processes, building, establishing, and aligning sales teams and their sales tools.