Sales Force Not Performing But Don’t Know Why?


When sales people fail to meet their sales targets, it’s obvious. What is not so obvious are the reasons why. How do we peel back the quotas and sales reports to find the factors that lead to low performance? How do we know the difference between a sales person who can make a few adjustments to get back on track and those who are not a good fit?

One way to gauge performance is to look at the “operating system” of top performers, and contrast this with low performers. What do the top performers consider the most important factors critical to their success? How does this differ from low performers?  How do these differences affect the length of the sales cycle, conversion rates, average deal size, and the ability to grow existing accounts?

In a survey of 1,000 sales executives worldwide, Achieve Global, a leadership development firm,  found distinct operating pattern differences between  top performers and low performers:

Top performers focused on “going deep:” They learned about their customers’ industry to reveal needs and perspectives that prospects had not considered before. They saw themselves as industry guides and used this understanding to provide compelling context to selling products or services.

Low performers focused more on “going wide:” Top priorities were filling the pipeline, aggressively pursuing leads, generating referrals, and building relationships. They tended to be product-centric and sales–centric, but lacked the consultative skills to engage clients as deeply as top performers.

(click key findings chart below to enlarge)



3 operating system tune-ups for top sales performance:

1)    Make sure you have at least as much client-centric training as you do product training

2)    Create a mechanism for generating impactful customer insights. Find owners and build intelligence gathering into your normal discovery process

3)    Consider consulting skills training to sharpen inquiry and deepen the impact of conversations with customers

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