According to CSO Insights’ 2018 World-Class Sales Practices Study, only 53% of sales reps are meeting or exceeding their quotas. That’s only slightly better than a coin flip. And you’re paying reps how much? Even more alarming, this is the fifth straight year of decline. Organizations today haven’t come close to identifying the right issues and solving them.
Rather than default to common reasoning, such as quotas were set too high, we hired the wrong people, or perhaps it’s marketing’s fault—we wanted to dig deeper. A review of real-time data combined with hundreds of conversations with B2B sellers, confirmed our suspicions that a majority of the reasons reps miss quota are aligned with missteps in actual sales Activity taken by the reps—many of which may surprise even the best sales leaders.
7 Dirty Secrets Why Reps Miss Quota
- Reps don’t engage often enough or on a consistent cadence. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. And the responsive prospect gets the sale rep’s attention. But what about the deals you haven’t heard from? The ones your rep “thinks” is going smoothly, but in reality there’s been a big gap. This happens more often that not. In fact, a recent analysis of pipelines showed that on average 10% of deals forecasted to close hadn’t been touched in 30+ days.
- Reps don’t engage early enough. They focus on the deals forecasted for the quarter and miss critical steps associated with early funnel opportunities. Small details that keep the deals warm and away from the competition. And in many cases, these are deals that could even be pushed into the current commit if they were given a little more attention. Yes reps should prioritize the deals closest to closing, however they should continue to engage and prime their full pipeline to set the stage for future quarters. Little reminders and easy to view “last touch date” can make a significant difference.
- Managers don’t know there are issues until it’s too late to help. Reps have happy ears and frequently tell managers that everything is on track, when in reality, it’s not. Because managers rely on the data reps elect to enter into their CRM and the data reps offer up in 1:1s and other weekly meetings, managers never get the full story. They don’t know that they haven’t been approved as a vendor in the ERP system or that the champion hasn’t been engaged in months. All signs the deal isn’t likely to close on time, and all details the manager isn’t aware of.
- Reps waste too much time entering data instead of selling. It’s a common complaint by reps. They’ve become their company’s highest paid data entry clerks. In fact, today reps are spending only one-third of their time actively selling. The rest is chasing information, entering data, meetings, reporting, etc. Reps are frustrated. Managers are frustrated. And the reality is that with all the data companies are ingesting, it should be easier to automatically track Activity, complete reports and find information.
- Reps aren’t engaged at the right level. Stop us if you’ve seen this movie before. Rep works a deal. Spends quality time, runs demos, answers all the questions and feels really good about closing this quarter. Then at the last minute, you learn that contact can’t make the final decision. That person is on vacation and has actually been piloting a separate tool. Yep, missing the champion or financial buyer can be a deal killer and it happens all too frequently.
- Reps aren’t following the sales methodology. 78% of sellers rely mainly on “gut-feel” to decide what next action to take in the sales process and 73% rely mainly on “gut-feel” to forecast whether their deals will close (thanks Sales Enablement Society). Yes. Gut-feel is important, but that means only 22% of the time reps are following the playbook, training and sales methodology. Reps aren’t intentionally ignoring those tools, but as static guides, they don’t work. Reps need in-the-moment coaching that understands exactly what’s happening with the deal.
- Internal assets never make their way to customers. Marketing spent how much on that white paper? Now go ask the reps how many times they’ve actually used it. What about the ROI calculator? In most cases, reps don’t know when to use these tools, let alone where to find them. The result, important assets that help throughout the buyer’s journey aren’t being used.
So next time your reps miss quota, take a look at their sales activity, because the simple fact is Activity drives sales. Are your reps focused on the right things? Do you have visibility into their activity in real-time to guide them? Are they engaged with the right person at the right time? The right Activity at the right time wins business.
Ready to get better visibility and insight into your sales rep’s Activity? Check out Olono Actions.
"The simple fact is Activity drives sales."