We Missed Our Sales Quota: What Should We Do Next?
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Collaborating With B2B Clients To Drive Profitable Revenue Growth | Sales, Marketing and Product Go-To-Market Strategies
What are we going to do to make our next quarter’s quota, and more importantly, our annual quota?
If we simply keep doing what we have been doing, we may simply cause our own failure.
Actions With The Biggest ROI for the Sales Rep
You own the assigned quota so the biggest impact you can have on your performance output is your personal sales actions.
Put the rose colored glasses and the happy ears in the desk draw; carefully review your pipeline to honestly determine what actions and resources are needed to close these deals this quarter, and, next quarter.
Internalize the fact that traditional prospecting techniques are time-tested and actually work; look in the mirror every morning and give yourself a pep talk, then double down on prospecting techniques with a committed, daily prospecting schedule. Do your homework before reaching out to a prospect, leverage social media platforms for prospect research, and leverage trusted referrals whenever possible. Have a clear value statement and ask business-oriented questions often.
Be tenacious about lead and opportunity qualification! Working on poorly qualified leads will just waste your time and wear you down. If you fill your pipeline with poor quality opportunities, that have little chance of closing this year, you will cause your own failure. Don’t let that happen.
Actions With The Biggest ROI for the Sales Team
If you are a Sales Manager, you own the team quota, so the biggest impact you can make right now is ensuring that everyone on your team is going in the best direction to achieve our goals. Sure, you need to provide on-going support, coaching and leadership to your team.
We must ensure that we are always leading our team down the best path for success.
Our Sales Plan Checklist
Our goal is to uncover a few adjustments to our current Sales Plan that will result in a meaningful impact to sales production this fiscal year.
Does our Sales Plan effectively address our top 3 Sales Objectives, which according to a survey by CSO Insights is capture new accounts, increase sales effectiveness, and optimize lead generation. Here is a quick checklist to figure out if we’re going in the best direction with our current Sales Plan:
1/ Sales Strategy: Have we sufficiently adapted our sales strategy to our target buyer’s current purchasing process? If we did have a buyer-focused selling approach, we would be enjoying 10 percent sales growth, 30 percent improvement in customer loyalty/retention, and 10–20 percent shorter sales cycle according to CSO Insights.
We no longer control the narrative about our company and services. The buying team will continually be self-educating throughout their online/offline/online purchasing journey, whether we are actively engaged with them or not: reading blogs and articles from various sources, checking vendor and sales representative reputation, seeking referrals and reviews via social media, etc. See the following LinkedIn article for a deeper insight into the self-educating buyer: Sales and the Buyer Journey: Closing the Gap
If we are not growing at a faster sales rate than our competitors, or if our forecasts are not reliably accurate, we may not be as aligned to the buyer as we might think.
Do our reps still use a canned presentations at each of their customer meetings? By telling buyers what they already know wastes their time, frustrates them, and starts our sales process selling on the wrong foot.
Is our forecast still based upon our sales rep’s rose colored glasses and happy ears? This is no longer the best approach to achieve forecast accuracy and reliability in the internet age.
Does our sales strategy increase “cold calling” for new logo business, or does it incorporate new online selling and prospecting skills where appropriate and expand our BDR/SDR/ Inside Sales group?
Bottom Line: Does our strategy provide enough feet on the street to deliver the number?
2/ Sales Process: Have we sufficiently adapted our sales process to support our sales strategy and mirror the target market buying process? If our Sales teams were executing a well-defined sales process of 6 to 10 sales stages, that were linked to increasing levels of prospect commitment, we would be enjoying 18% more sales growth according to a study by the Sales Management Association .
The self-educating buyer has online access to lots of product information. What they need now is a trusted sales advisor who can help guide them to the “right” solution that meets their business needs.
Are the sales stages for each pipeline opportunity still based upon in-person sales rep perceptions, or, buyer actions?
Is sales training still geared towards pitching product, or, helping guide each member of the buyer team from business problem through to our company’s solution?
Are we still using the same sales techniques throughout each stage of the sales process that we used 10 years ago, or, have we incorporated additional online social selling and prospecting techniques skills where appropriate?
Bottom Line: Does our sales process increase sales effectiveness and enable consistently reliable, accurate and growing forecasts?
3/ New Logo Business Leads: Are we using the most cost-effective techniques to develop sufficient new logo business to meet our growing sales goals? Many Sales organizations believe that the most cost-effective approach is to allocate an increasing part of their Sales budget to inside sales/SDRs/BDRs and less to field sales reps. While this approach may have the potential to be less costly overall it does not reflect the most cost effective method available, particularly for small and mid-sized businesses (SMB).
If we had figured out how to improve lead quality from Marketing we would have had lots to smile about, according to Aberdeen Group:
99% of companies achieved sales budget (versus industry average of 61%)
47% of the Sales forecasted pipeline was generated from marketing leads
75% of sales reps achieved quota (versus industry average of 50%)
13.1% annual growth of corporate revenue (versus an industry average of 4.3%).
We can clearly define the kind of information that each Marketing-generated lead (or SDR/BDR lead) must have before committing valuable field selling time to further qualification. See the following LinkedIn article for deeper insight into defining the best leads: The Best Sales New Business Leads
What is the lead’s industry, primary business challenge, size of company, installation location, buyer persona, product they are currently interested in, estimated timeframe for company decision, expected budget range?
What information have they consumed from us so far? They could have “viewed” three web pages but only stayed on each page for 2 seconds, or, filled in a form to get some “compelling” content and didn’t read it because it wasn’t what they thought it would be.
Have they been offered, but declined, an opportunity to communicate with our representative via chat, email, scheduled call, or scheduled meeting?
The most cost effective method for new logo business leads are leads that the Sales function does not have to directly fund from its own expense budget (i.e. Marketing-generated leads).
However, we can’t waste our team’s valuable selling time chasing poor leads. Currently, only about 25% of Marketing-generated leads will eventually buy according to studies by MarketingSherpa and others, but we need to qualify 100% of the leads to find the few that will close this fiscal year. It’s like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack!
We must have a solid buyer-centric lead qualification process in place, whether we are transferring a lead from Marketing to Sales, or, from inside sales/SDR/BDR to field sales.
Are Marketing-qualified leads based upon product interest as demonstrated by clicks, views and downloads, or, are they based upon buyer-insights that Sales understands such as industry, company size, and information actually consumed?
Are SDR/BDR-qualified leads based upon the prospect’s product interest, or, based upon the prospect’s business challenges, buyer purchasing stage and budget expectations?
Bottom Line: Will Sales generate sufficient new logo business leads to make the number?
4./ Sales Enablement: Do our Sales reps have the content they need to facilitates the buyer’s online/offline/online journey, from one stage of their purchasing process to the next, to shorten our sales cycle and improve our closure rates?
The right content from Marketing could help shorten the sales cycle, increase closure rates, and also better enable social selling. See the following LinkedIn articles for deeper insight Sales Enablement: The Buyer Journey: Content Marketing Versus Sales Enablement and Improving Customer Experience: Social Marketing versus Social Sales .
5/ Sales Incentive Compensation: Are we actively managing the Sales incentive compensation plan throughout the year to effectively motivate the right behaviors that will lead to increased sales outcomes?
There are plenty of factors that we need to re-visit at the end of every quarter, including:
Re-education/Re-enforcement of key Compensation Plan incentives (e.g. clearly identify how the reps can maximize personal commissions this quarter),
Adjustment of select incentive components to leverage recent learnings from previous quarter (e.g. SPIFs, contests, new certifications)
Promotion of the Compensation Plan (e.g., awards, recognition).
If we believe in the comp plan, let’s sell it! If we don’t believe in it, let’s fix it! See the following LinkedIn article for a deeper insight into incentive compensation: The Best Sales Incentive Compensation Plan .
6/ Opportunity Management: Are we getting the most out of our time investment in Sales Force Automation/CRM? Does it create less available selling time, or more? Does it help our reps focus on canned presentations and demos, or buyer needs and concerns? Do we share the best practices of top performers at our local team meetings and hope Sales reps will develop a long-term memory and retain them, or, do we easily and quickly update the CRM’s sales process to reflect new learning's and best practices from our top performers and make it visible to the entire sales organization whenever they should be executing it?
The right software tools are available today, but they must be properly implemented to support our Sales needs. See the following LinkedIn article for a deeper insight into automation and CRM: Sales and Automation: Promises versus Expectations
The Errors Of Our Ways
Let’s not repeat the mistakes of our industry colleagues, or our predecessors, in achieving consistent sales success.
Be the change agent, not the victim of change. Making our sales goals will continue to become “increasingly challenging” until we become better aligned with the buyer. Those who relied on simply working harder have seen the tenure of VP Sales drop to 18 months in some industries, with subsequent change-outs rippling down through the sales organization.
Evolution, not revolution. We need to identify two or three adjustments that can be made this quarter that can start delivering a measureable, positive impact to sales outcomes next quarter, not next year.
Stay focused, don’t get distracted. Everyone needs to stay focused on closing this quarter.
Be the sponsor, not the project leader. Bring in an experienced Sales and Marketing consultant with a proven history of aligning the sales force to the buyer, reaching across the aisle to help Marketing generate much better leads and content for Sales, and minimizing any negative impact to current sales production.
Our sales generation engine has a lot of moving parts. For a more in-depth discussion with suggested actions, read Sales Strategies To Increase Revenues – Your Sales Plan Checklist .
If your company's Sales Plan needs an expert tune-up, contact the author for a free consultation .
How will you recover from a missed quarter and make the year? Please keep the discussion going by commenting and sharing this post with your colleagues. Thank you!