Without identifiable sales goals to work toward, leaders can become a bit aimless or unfocused when directing their teams. Goal setting isn’t just a guide to your "Big Picture" business objectives. It also helps employees as individuals, providing every sales team member with a focus to put all their efforts in. For your goals to actually yield positive results, however, you have to make sure you have the right sales goals in place.
Setting the Right Sales Goals
The art of goal setting isn't anything new. For example, in a study ranging from 1969 to 1980, Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham conducted research on goal setting and found important insights on the value of creating challenging objectives.
When people set easily obtainable goals, performance isn’t as high as when they set specific goals that challenge them. In fact, setting difficult goals leads to better performance 90 percent of the time. Sales reps often have to contend with numerous sales goals set by their leadership team. But, because they’re human, it’s also likely that they haven’t reached every single one of them. You may even see that they're currently falling short.
By understanding the reason why your sales team is missing goals, you’re better prepared to identify how to help them achieve those goals.
13 Reasons You’re Missing Your Sales Goals
It isn’t too uncommon for salespeople to fall into a rut and start falling behind on their goals. Regardless of whether the blame falls on the leadership or the individual, once the root of the problem is found, that's when you can start making corrections.
Here are some common reasons why sales goals fall flat and what you can do to revamp them.
1. You Don’t Have a Structured Sales Process.
If your sales reps don’t have a repeatable routine for converting leads into customers, then it’s no wonder that they aren't hitting the mark.
A standardized, customizable sales process provides an easy-to-use template that can be personalized to each lead your team engages with. Having that structure can shorten your sales cycle, help new team members effectively get up to speed, and actually lead to more wins.
B2B companies using a formal, defined sales process earned 18 percent more revenue growth compared to companies that didn’t.
If you focus on building an adaptable, improvable game plan, then you’ll reap a ton of benefits, like:
- Giving all reps a clear path with defined steps to follow.
- Simplifying sales and revenue forecasting.
- Gathering sales performance insights.
- Enabling sales teams to constantly improve sales tactics.
- Aligning communication between all company teams.
2. You’re Being Inauthentic With Your Communication.
Long gone are the days of procedural, impersonal, and data-filled email correspondence being effective. People are flooded with these types of emails every day. And, typically, they ignore, delete, or flag these low-quality emails as spam. Calls, particularly outbound sales calls, have an equally difficult (and potentially more stressful) challenge for your sales reps.
Interactions with leads are about more than just using templates and reading scripts. This isn't to say that there's no place for using calling scripts or templated email content in your communications. These tools, when used correctly, can help improve consistency and save your sales team time. However, dogmatic adherence to an inflexible call script can easily be interpreted as the seller being insincere or oblivious to the prospect's needs.
This is why it's important for sales reps to be convincingly sincere and authentic with customers (without being abrasive). By having them take on the mentality of connecting with potential customers, they'll be able to earn the prospect's trust and build an organic relationship that ends with both parties happy.
Leads can tell when phone agents or emails are inauthentic and usually respond pretty negatively to the notion of being just another sale to your business.
By being real in communications, your sales rep won’t seem like "just another salesperson" to them. Your team will have more natural (and possibly fun) conversations.
That should sound as appealing to you as it does to your leads.
3. You Haven’t Moved Past BANT Yet.
BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing) was once an effective method for qualifying leads. But there’s a newer lead qualification framework that sales teams should be using to improve results.
CGP TCI BA is a step up from where BANT was putting sales teams for years. Focusing on breaking down the task of lead qualification into three tiers, you’ll learn to pursue eight details: Challenges, Goals, Plans; Timeline, Consequences, Implications; Budget, and Authority.
During a discovery call, the three levels are meant to lead into one another, providing a more holistic picture of the quality of the lead. It’s much more effective to work with just the knowledge of a prospect’s budget and authority.
First, you’ll want to learn what their challenges and goals are. What plans do they have for their business? What’s their timeline, and so forth?
Being thorough in qualifying your leads will help you identify prospects that are a great match for your business and give you a head start in knowing how you’re going to be able to provide value to them.
4. You’re Not Making a (Positive) Memorable Impression.
Who wants to buy from Debbie Downer or Peter Pessimist? The answer is nobody. Nothing builds trust more than a perfectly balanced professional, yet personable, sales call. In sales, it's often the person, not the product, that makes the sale.
This is why it's important for your sales reps to make a genuine connection with your prospects, possibly by revealing something that isn't too personal, but still interesting, about themselves. This will prompt prospects to want to share something about themselves as well.
To stand out from the rest and create a real human connection, have reps take the time to really learn about your customers. Familiarize your reps with their prospects' roles, lifestyles, and interests outside of the context of the deal. What’s their favorite sport and team? Do they have kids?
Make sure that your team is building a relationship centered around helping and providing value to them as an individual.
5. Your Prospects Feel That You're Wasting Their Time.
While being personable and sharing anecdotes can be a great way for your reps to build a rapport with your audience, it's important to avoid wasting time on too much small talk. To meet aggressive sales goals, reps need to be efficient with their time, and spending 10-15 minutes on a 20-minute sales call reminiscing about making the touchdown that won the championship game for Polk High School and how you're now married, with children isn't an efficient use of your company's (or your lead's) time and resources.
Also, when your sales reps are focusing on product/service features and not how those features can help the prospect meet their goals or solve their problems, the person on the other end of the line will "tune out" at best and, at worst, hang up in frustration.
6. Your Reps Are Talking, Not Listening.
Having tunnel vision about making the sale and meeting quotas is an easy trap to fall into. But being too focused on closing deals (and upselling specific products regardless of the prospect's needs/wants) can actually do more harm than good.
It sounds a little counter-intuitive. Isn’t the whole point to be more conscious of your team's goals?
Well, yeah, but in order to actually make any progress, your sales reps should be focused on customer-oriented behaviors. They’re far more impactful than sales-oriented ones.
When you’re interacting with a lead, jumping from a short qualification process to trying to close a deal can leave them feeling hollow about the sale. You also run the risk of not actually catching on to their true pain point.
Most of the time, customers don’t know what their actual need is beyond a vague idea of something being wrong.
Be patient and take the time to actually dig deep and listen to what the customer is looking for. They’ll doubt whether you actually know what’s best for them if you rush them along, and, truth be told, they’re right to.
7. You Don’t Have Enough Leads (Or They’re Low Quality).
Lead generation is a whole other can of worms, in all honesty. If you’re not drawing in prospects, especially highly qualified ones, then your sales team definitely isn't going to meet any of its goals. Average conversion rates vary by industry, but let's assume that your industry aligns with the B2C sector, which has an average conversion rate of 2.1%. In the statistic cited, a "conversion" references a prospect becoming a qualified lead—not a customer.
If your business has a 10% qualified lead-to-customer conversion rate, and only 2.1% of prospects become qualified leads, how many prospects would you need to add to your sales funnel to reach a goal of 100 new customers a month? Well, to get 100 new customers, you'd need 1,000 qualified leads. To get 1,000 qualified leads, you would need over 47,000 prospects per month.
It’s imperative that you work with marketing to ensure that they’re pursuing the right lead generation efforts.
Misaligned goals could lead to your marketing team searching for one demographic when you’re looking for another. And trust us, there is a difference. Not all leads are created equal, especially when you factor in different industries, services, and product types.
In the example earlier, 47,000 prospects per month is an enormous number to draw on for a relatively small goal of 100 customers.... Or is it? This is why it's important to evaluate the goal itself. Is 100 enough new business to fuel your company's growth? How much is each deal worth? Is the right audience being attracted to the site as prospects? These are all questions that need answers before you can start optimizing your sales process in earnest.
Both departments should come together and establish what your business’ ideal customer looks like. Create buyer personas that will teach team members where your best-quality leads come from, what their pain points and behaviors are, and how exactly your business provides value for them.
With some reactionary adjustments to lead generation strategies, you’ll witness a dramatic change in the types of leads handed off to you. Making sales will become so much easier.
8. You’re Not Talking to the Right People.
In the early stages of interacting with a lead, sales should be focused on one thing first: getting through to the decision-maker. It’s important that you use your time talking with the right people. Otherwise, you’re lengthening your sales cycle and spending a lot of resources.
But it can be pretty tricky to identify the right person. Depending on the size of the other business and your standing relationship with them, it can be quite a hurdle to clear. People with decision-making authority, especially in larger organizations that have extra resources, often employ a team of gatekeepers—people who interdict messages to the decision maker and choose what gets passed along and what gets put in the "circular file" (i.e., trash bin).
Start out by mapping out the organization on LinkedIn. Many companies list their employees and their roles on their company pages. It can be as easy as reading a job title to identify who the decision-maker is. Alternatively, you may have to make an educated guess. Either way, it’ll get you on the right track.
From there, sales reps might need to lean on any personal connections they may have within the organization or a mutual network to see if anyone can tell them who they're looking for or how to clear the gatekeeper(s).
If no one comes through for your reps there, then they may have to resort to simply picking up the phone, getting connected to the right department, and asking them upfront about opportunities to reach out to the person in charge.
9. You’re Not Being Efficient With Automation.
Time is always a crunch in sales, and how your team manages it can be the deciding factor in whether you meet your sales goals or not.
Since the development of sales automation tools, salespeople have had a huge weight lifted off their shoulders.
Automation can help your team be more efficient with their time. From segmenting your leads to personalizing and scheduling email follow-ups, your company's sales process becomes a lot more efficient when you introduce the right tools.
For example, HubSpot tools like chatbots, segmentation, and booking tools streamline lots of manual processes. That’s time saved in your sales rep's day that can be repurposed to making calls and connecting with prospects.
10. You’re Not Evolving With the Market.
The market isn’t an evergreen environment. Consumer behaviors, industry trends, and even marketing and sales techniques are in a constant state of flux. If you’re not adapting and evolving your sales team's processes with the market, then your business runs the risk of becoming dated and irrelevant.
You should be changing how your reps engage with and talk to prospects as things change. Every industry changes, sometimes overnight due to some disruptive new technology, company, or technique. So being agile in how you interact with potential buyers will help you stay competitive and in the know.
Try to avoid becoming too dependent or attached to specific methodologies and techniques. At some point, they’ll likely be updated or retired by a newer, better tactic.
Being able to pivot at the drop of a hat is a valuable skill that will set you apart from other salespeople.
11. Your Sales Reps Don’t Know Their Personal Metrics.
Without knowing what their sales performance metrics are, your sales reps aren't going to know how to properly manage the sales pipeline.
How are they going to know where they can improve if you’re not tracking where they're at and sharing that information with them? Success should be measured in order to be proven. By paying attention to your sales team's metrics, you can identify what’s working, what isn’t, and what changes should be made in order to drive better results.
Salespeople should key into five specific metrics to keep pushing forward:
- The overall performance of the sales team (what percentage of the quota is being met)
- Lead loss rate
- Conversion rate
- The average size of a deal
- Incoming revenue
By monitoring these KPIs, you’ll be able to keep an eye on both your team’s performance and your own. Identify and address any gaps or weak points and watch your business bounce back.
12. Your Sales Team Isn't Being Prepared Properly.
In any endeavor, preparation is key. In sales, it's important to help your reps keep their skills sharp, ensure that they're intimately familiar with your products/services and the unique value they bring to your customers, and any regulations affecting your industry.
The challenge is that preparations are often rendered obsolete. Regulations change. New products/services are released (either by your company or a competitor). People forget skills that they haven't used in a while despite undergoing training (i.e., the infamous "forgetting curve"). Sales processes themselves change to match new industry best practices or with corporate initiatives.
Keeping sales team members prepared to operate at peak efficiency is a constant uphill battle. This is why continuous learning, skills review sessions, and mentorship programs are often useful for helping sales reps meet their sales goals.
13. You Aren't Setting the Right Goals.
Setting the right goals can make a huge difference in employee performance. A goal that is challenging, but realistic, is more motivating than an easy goal or one that is so far outside the realm of possibility as to become demoralizing.
It's common to use the SMART goal framework (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) to assess goals and ensure that they are firm but fair to your sales team. Of course, what's "achievable" may vary depending on the circumstances.
For example, if you have a goal of selling to 100 customers in a week per rep and the average time-to-close for a deal is 15 minutes, that would be a tight fit for a 40-hour work week if every rep was only getting super-qualified leads and they had enough leads to fulfill that goal. At that speed (15 minutes/call), a rep could talk to 160 leads a week—meaning that they'd need a better than 62.5% close rate to consistently meet their goal. Without a near-perfect sales funnel giving the reps highly qualified leads, this goal might be too aggressive.
Meanwhile, if the average time to close a deal is closer to 5 minutes, this goal would actually be too low—unless the expected call-to-deal rate is commensurately lower as well.
Missing sales goals can make sales reps feel dejected, but it’s not a solely negative experience. It can be an opportunity to learn from mistakes. By looking into why your team is missing goals, you can identify ways to improve your sales process and help your team increase its success rates in the future. If you never look into the problem, then you’ll never fix it.
At the end of the day, the important thing is to continue helping your team learn and grow.