Apr 1, 2010

Why Salespeople Fail

There are essentially a number of reasons why salespeople miss their quotas. Do you know what they are?

I've heard managers say "my salespeople aren't making enough calls" and "my salespeople make calls but they don't sell anything - I think they're just making friends with everyone of their prospects" and "my salespeople make calls but don't sell what I want them to sell" and all sorts of other things.

The truth of the matter is that most salespeople miss their quota for one reason:


It might sound silly, but it really is true. Do you know how I know this? Because whenever managers tell their salespeople they need an account review to write a sales territory plan of how they're going to hit their quota they all go into scramble mode! I recall the frantic "Scott, you know how to plan... can you please HELP ME!" phone calls I used to receive when I worked in the High Tech industry selling services. Oddly, I'd usually walk out of my own account review meeting beaming, having received kudos for a great plan, along with the words, "now just execute upon that plan and we'll all be even happier next year" (execution of the sales plan is the #2 reason people fail, coincidentally). And, yes, I'd go hit my numbers year after year after year.


My first boss out of college had a great expression: "Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail." He would often put this up on the slide projector at the start of meetings. It stuck. It's true! The guy knew what he was doing - he turned a $300K sales team into a $1MM+ sales team in ONE YEAR. I think if every manager copied his formula for success they'd have more success. His original formula used with that team was a winner. I'm going to put it into a program for sales managers later in 2010, so stay tuned on that one... anyway, my point is that planning is vital to success.

An often quoted statement is about the 3% of a graduating class at Harvard or Yale who wrote down their goals achieved more than the other 97% combined. I don't know if that story is true or not - it has not been substantiated from what I've seen. However, I did see a study from the Dominican University that there is an increase from 4.28 (unwritten goals) to 7.6 (written goals with progress reports to a friend or mentor). So, writing the goal down, including milestones, and reporting back on progress is a great idea if you want to be twice as good as the "typical" salesperson (who I've already explained is too lazy to write down their plan).

So, make a plan. If you're not sure how to write a territory plan, I've written instructions before on the blog and at AspireNow.com I think I posted an article in the past. You can hire someone to write one for you. But I believe there is value in writing your own plan. You may not work the plan (execute) if you don't write it. Take the time. Make the effort. Write a plan you can use to succeed.

If you want help with your plan, I've written a ton of sales plans and had CEO's and Sr. VP's tell me my plans are the best they've ever seen in their life. I've been hired off a sales plan I wrote for two different jobs. My plans are *that* powerful.

What are the keys to a good plan? Well, you must include the following:

1. Non-disclosure agreement & Executive Overview
2. Mission
3. Objectives
4. Understanding of Ideal Client
5. Definition of Product (what are you selling to them and why)
6. Strategy to achieve objectives
7. Territory - definition of borders, vertical, geographical markets
8. Ways you intend to differentiate and add value to prospects in that territory
9. The math of how you will achieve your quota
10. Milestones to hit to make sure you're on plan
11. Statement of known and unknown factors of risk

Only share #10 milestones with a boss if you intend for the boss to start measuring you on those milestones and you intend to hit them. If you're going to fluff your way through success, don't list that. But frankly, if you're going to succeed, you ought to list things you know you can achieve.

Most sales plans don't include #11 - but good business plans do. Why? Because this covers your butt if you MISS your quota, despite doing everything right, due to something weird happening. For example, if you missed a quota when the economy tanked. Some companies will give up on you if they think you aren't working your plan. But if you can demonstrate you are working your plan and can show prospects that indicate success is around the corner, that may buy you time to keep your job and thrive in the future. It's all about achievement of the numbers to most of these bosses, so you must show progress towards those numbers.

And, regarding achieving, it's all about your quota, in the end, for any boss. So, every boss will examine #6 with a fine toothpick and comb if they're worth their salt. Put the numbers they need to see there. But, for your OWN benefit, take THEIR quota numbers and then figure out how to DOUBLE that goal. Because that is the goal you ought to work for - reason being that if you miss YOUR quota you will still hit THEIR quota.

Besides the plan itself, doubling your quota is the #1 key to ensuring you always hit your quota. It proves that success is largely a MENTAL thing - you must condition your mind to BELIEVE YOU CAN. Take their quota, double it, figure out how to accomplish THAT goal, then work towards THOSE numbers. As long as you're adding value, selling the right number of deals to the right prospects, and focused on that higher number, you will pretty much always blow away your goals. There are other reasons salespeople miss quota I identify and discuss in Cold to Gold Mind Spark SessionsTM (my sales workshops). I'm offering these workshops for a limited time prior to selling Cold to Gold online, so don't wait if you're looking to explode your success in 2010 - many of the techniques I'm offering for a limited time and they are not offered anywhere else.

To register a group of 20 or more, send me an email to info@ARRiiVE.com. Otherwise, sign up directly at ColdtoGold.com

Check out additional articles on "Cold Call Tips For Effective Cold Calling"

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