Today's post is by Julie Thomas, president and CEO of ValueSelling Associates. She is a noted speaker, author, and consultant. In a career spanning over 24 years, she credits her mastery of the ValueSelling Framework® for her own meteoric rise through the ranks of sales, sales management, and corporate leadership positions. Connect with Julie on LinkedIn.
Mid-year is an ideal time to reflect, recalibrate, and re-energize. Many people are feeling worn out by the first half of 2020, and the uncertainty of the future exacerbates the fatigue. As a sales professional, your livelihood anchors on achieving quota, so now is the time to refocus. With the right approach and mindset, you can put yourself on track to meet – and even exceed – quota by the year’s end.
Selling Power and ValueSelling Associates partnered to survey more than 300 B2B sales professionals about their quotas. Specifically, we wanted to learn about the key elements that contribute to a salesperson’s ability to consistently achieve sales quota. Here’s what we learned and how you can leverage this information for your benefit.
Why are sales teams missing quota?
Our survey clearly shows that salespeople who aren’t coached or trained properly tend to fall off the quota attainment track. When looking specifically at the data from salespeople who said they were likely to miss quota, 89% said they lack a formal coaching program, and 62% said they lack formal training on how to communicate value to customers.
This data reinforces the importance of training sales reps on how to sell value, not just products and features. If they felt comfortable with this skill, they’d likely be closer to achieving quota. When it comes to sales leaders, survey responses suggest a few key approaches that help their reps reach quota: prospecting to keep a full sales pipeline, having a defined sales process, and communicating value when speaking with prospects and customers. We’ll explore these factors in more detail below.
1) Keep the sales pipeline full
When we asked sales reps – who were not on track to make quota – if they had enough leads in their pipeline, 69% said no. This is a sales leader’s perpetual quandary: To keep the sales pipeline full, they must establish a common goal for lead generation and create a disciplined approach to prospecting. Our survey results also show that many sales leaders believe reps neglect their prospecting efforts. To address this issue, there needs to be a consistent framework – and sales reps must have patience and discipline in the prospecting process.
2) Create a simple sales process
Once the pipeline is solid, salespeople need a simple, repeatable process to close the deal. This is easier said than done. Many sales teams make the mistake of creating a process that has too many steps or inadvertently causes their reps to devote time to non-selling activities. If a sales process isn’t easy to follow, it won’t be followed at all – and reps will forfeit winning results. A simple process lets you get your foot in the door and be on the way to a successful sale.
3) Help reps communicate value
Sales professionals who are on track to attain quota say their ability to communicate value is a major contributing factor to their sales success. And, although 72% of sales leaders report they teach reps how to communicate value, most salespeople identify a need to work on their ability to communicate value to prospective buyers.
This is particularly true for reps calling on executive buyers who have less time and patience for reps who don’t yet share their level of business experience and acumen. Sales reps need to know how to speak the language of business and not just rely on talking about product features and benefits.
When sales leaders empower salespeople with the ability to communicate business value to the prospect, reps can gain more traction. Those efforts typically result in higher levels of motivation to prospect more frequently and routinely – resulting in an uptick in sales results overall.
Meeting and surpassing quota is all about selling behaviors. Our research demonstrates that salespeople who do not receive the proper training or coaching tend to underperform and miss their quotas. It’s easy to point to a lack of pipeline, process, or training. What’s more helpful is a positive mindset, persistence in prospecting, and a willingness to learn and gain new skills.
To learn more about our research, download the ValueSelling Associates e-book: The Three Keys to Sales Quota Attainment along with the accompanying infographic.