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7 Reasons Sales People Fail

Sales is undoubtedly a tough job. Out of the thousands of sales representatives, only 40 percent will consistently hit their sales targets, while the other 60 percent will fail to close deals.

There’s no doubt that there are great sales professionals and mediocre ones. But what differentiates them? Why do some sales people succeed while others fail? Here are some of the reasons why some reps just can’t close deals.

1. Poor Listening Skills
New and mediocre sales people will simply do sales presentations instead of determining what their prospects actually want and why. Their sole focus is on “pitching” their offerings to clients. They think that if they drill down hard enough and push hard enough, they’ll get the sale.

But all this leads to is resentment. Prospects feel disrespected and neglected when it’s clear that the sales rep only cares about the sale, and not their needs.

The best sales pros have great listening skills. They listen to the needs of the clients: their pain points, their desires, their objections, and their concerns. They ask the right probing questions and actively listen to the answers, which offer insights into the prospects’ wants and desires. Through active listening, they can then better meet their clients’ needs, while also making them feel cared for and valued at the same time.

2. Poor Organizational Skills
Sales reps with poor organizational skills will not only have trouble generating new business but will also likely end up losing business because of poor follow-up and follow-through.

There is a tremendous amount of research to do in sales. The best sales professionals understand that they need to know their prospects, their businesses, their competition, and their industry inside and out. And they take the time to learn this information ahead of time. Not being organized enough to do research will undoubtedly make sales reps look unprepared and inefficient at their jobs, which doesn’t resonate well with prospects when your sales people are supposed to be the experts, the guides, and the advisors who know everything.

In addition, there’s a lot of follow-through and follow-up required on requests, on research, on new contacts, on contracts, and on deals. If sales professionals aren’t organized, these actions will fall through the cracks. A deal that could have easily been made is lost because the sales rep forgot to follow up, to send samples, or to reply to an email. We’re not saying that sales people need to have a neat office and perfectly organized filing cabinets, but they do need to follow through on their promises and take required action when it’s needed. Knowing their priorities and following a system for following up and following through is critical to gaining trust, building relationships, and closing deals.

3. Aggressive Sales Tactics
Though aggressive sales tactics have a time and a place, they shouldn’t be used as the first line of defense. Especially when it comes to inbound prospects, persuasion and manipulation will lead to sales resistance and a low closing rate. These sales tactics are largely obsolete in today’s marketplace. Customers no longer want to be talked at and sold to. And sales people need to update their strategies to be compatible with the way customers want to buy today.

4. Bad Manager
Not all sales people fail because of their own actions or inactions. Others are set up to fail bybad sales managers. Sales managers are critical to the success of their sales reps, and many fail to do their jobs effectively. They may have poor communication skills that leads to unclear standards and expectations. They might have an ineffective management style that doesn’t work to encourage and motivate top performance. Or they simply might not have enough managerial or sales experience to excel at the position. Try as they might, some sales reps will fail simply because they’re not given the opportunities to succeed under their current sales managers.

5. Lack of Leads
Cold calling is difficult, and it’s an ineffective selling method in today’s digital world. Sales people who are expected to make X amount of sales through cold calling alone might fail due to unrealistic expectations. Cold calling is an interruptive selling technique that targets people who simply aren’t interested in buying, so sales people fail.

To be successful, sales people need leads. Implementing inbound marketing can allow you to build the consistent stream of leads that your sales people need to close deals. Inbound leads are already interested and knowledgeable about your company and offerings. And they’re far more receptive to sales people’s offerings, making sales more likely.

6. Lack of Qualified Activity
Sales people need more than just leads, they need qualified, sales-ready leads in order to close deals. Even if your sales people are generating 40 to 50 new contacts every single day due to inbound activity, they still might not close one deal because these contacts aren’t qualified.

Using predictive lead scoring and implementing a lead nurturing process can help ensure that the leads that are sent to your sales people are willing and ready to buy. In addition, arming your sales reps with the right lead intelligence and the right questions to help them get a better understanding of where they are in the sales cycle can help them have more relevant conversations with the prospects in order to increase the chance of a sale.

7. Lack of an Effective Sales Process
Micromanaging a sales team doesn’t lead to improved performance, but neither does allowing reps to do their own thing. Without an effective and consistent sales process, sales reps are left to their own devices. They handle all sales opportunities differently, without consistency, which means that their efforts are hit or miss. Creating and implementing a sales process that works, one that offers structure but also provides some leeway, can help your sales reps get the highest probability of producing high close rates.

Many factors will lead to failure in sales. Sometimes, the sales reps themselves will make their own beds, through poor listening skills, poor organizational skills, and the use of aggressive sales tactics. But other times, these sales professionals are set up to fail, through bad sales managers, ineffective or non-existent sales processes, poor lead generation, and poor lead qualification. Increasing sales performance is a company-wide effort that requires changes on behalf of the marketing department, the sales manager, and the sales people themselves.
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