In sales, there is a multitude of reasons you can fail. The timing is terrible, the status quo won, or maybe you were outsold by the competition. What can you do with so many variables at play? You can work on things you can control that contribute to the success or failure of any sale.

I have enjoyed personal success in the sales in both B2B and B2C industries and have coached and trained sales teams from every sector. The failure to advance the ball is the most common reason salespeople fail. The following are the top reasons why 67% of sales people fail to reach their goal.

1 – Inaccurate Databases

The hidden cost of bad data may be even greater than 12% lost revenue. 28% of those who have had problems delivering email say that customer service has suffered as a result, while 21% experienced reputational damage. And finally 40% of business objectives fail due to inaccurate data

The question here is not just one of increasing conversion at source, but one of protecting a company from the risk that comes from sending communications with incorrect contact information. In the US, this risk is high as ISPs increasingly crack down on email senders.

All of this forms the background to a key trend in marketing. Customer data (and in turn, CRM systems, marketing automation, customer experience management and analytics packages) remains a priority for improvement

Let’s look at some stats created by ZoomInfo on the negative impact of data decay

  • 62% of organizations rely on marketing and prospect data that’s up to 40% inaccurate
  • Up to 25% of B2B database contacts contain critical errors
  • 1-10-100 rule: It costs $1 to verify a record as it’s entered, $10 to scrub and cleanse it later, and $100 if nothing is done

I believe the numbers are scary enough for every sales manager to run back to office and check the accuracy of his or her databases.

2 – Dry Pipeline-

Many salespeople or telemarketers instead of searching new prospects, they continue calling the old ones hoping something will convert.

Here is a list of to do’s to overcome a dry pipeline:

  • Source leads, ensuring you do it appropriately and compliantly.  Match the leads to your ‘ideal customer profile’ as much as possible.
  • Qualify leads using criteria which will help you categories prospects into segments.  For example, you may have some more urgent than others or want to select different contact methods for each segments.
  • Design the activity and milestones for your sales pipeline.  For example, will you use the phone or email, or do you want to meet face to face?  What does success look like at each milestone?
  • Begin your sales activity – think about which sales approach you use and why.  When we say sales approach, we mean are you transactional or consultative, is the focus more on inbound or outbound, have your team been trained a consistent way to approach sales?
  • Record your activity and outcomes so that you can spot trends and understand conversion rates.  We’d advise you use a CRM for this, but you can always start with a spreadsheet until it becomes too big to manage.

3 – Not dialing enough

Very common problem in sales people that they don’t make enough dials. Successful sales have calling hours where all they do is “Only Call” with a “Do not Disturb Sign”

With a good time and calendar management, you make sure you leave yourself enough time to sit and make ‘rockstar’ calls.

In our experience, a diligent inside sales person making their first pass through a new list will be able to easily achieve 8-10 calls per hour.

The cold calls per hour will increase as the list becomes warmer and more refined over the next few calls. This will allow a good inside sales person to average 10-12 calls per hour while effectively maintaining and updating information in the CRM.

4 – Don’t update CRM

The key to good follow ups is keeping good notes on your CRM software.

Customer Relationship Management software is widely hailed as “the” vehicle to improve customer relationships and carry your company to a profitable bottom-line. Even so, sometimes CRM feels a bit like a clunker. How do you know if it’s time to trade-in your CRM or just give it a tune-up?

You might need a CRM upgrade if:

  • Your customers need to run through their history with you each time they call.
  • You tout a “new customer sale” only to later discover that it’s actually from an existing customer.
  • You need more than a few seconds to find an existing customer’s order or purchase history.
  • Every time a customer calls, you need a carrier pigeon to access supporting systems and information.
  • You find out you’ve lost a customer from a competitor’s press release touting their new customer win.
  • “Integration with legacy systems” means you share a workstation with the oldest person in the company.
  • Someone calls to place an order and you only find out they have a quote when they tell you.
  • You ship an order to a customer’s competitor.
  • Instead of Christmas cards from you customers, you receive sympathy cards.
  • You don’t even know who your customers are.

5 – Lack of networking

The formula is simple. Go out and meet new people

Staying indoors and locking yourself at an office is keeping your eyes away from sales opportunities, and most of all far from potential marketing to boost your sales performance.

Always look for events, conferences, seminars, training,… around you. Such environments are great to jump into conversations, introduce yourself to people, you can never know, maybe someone out there is searching for something you can offer.

6 – Attending industry events

The question is, why attending tradeshows and networking events is that important?

Once you have the target audience in place, you can easily identify their areas of interest and the kind of conferences and trade shows they are likely to attend. Attending industry conferences, seminars, events or trade shows are a great place to connect with potential prospects. You get the opportunity to meet people face to face and talk to them about their requirements and how your product or service can help them. Attending such events will also keep you updated on the latest industry trends and ensure that you stay ahead of the curve and also give you the opportunity to build connections with industry experts which you can leverage during networking. You also get the fantastic opportunity to identify if your product or service needs to add any feature to become more market ready.

7 – Slacking during good times

Do you know what makes some salespeople one of the most successful? They’re not slackers.

Elon Musk runs two companies, Tesla and SpaceX. Those are two full-time jobs. The guy barely has time to sleep. I hear he gets six hours a day on average. Now you know why he is successful. Winners gonna win and slackers gonna slack off.

As a salesperson you need a meaning and a momentum to keep yourself motivated, active and constantly striving toward excellence instead of slacking off. You can never tell what opportunity you would miss while napping.

Motivation and having goals is the ultimate mix for crushing slacking off. And for that here are some notes on how to motivate a salesperson.

  • Sprints
  • Recognition
  • Make the salesperson a mentor
  • Feedback
  • The right tools

8 – Hiring a sales trainer

On a daily basis calls need to be listened and skills need to be enhanced.

Hiring a sales trainer too early is one of the common mistakes. In the early stages, you want founders to ideally drive the sales process. Hire your first sales people only after you have a sense of who your ideal customer profile is, what is the right messaging and value proposition, what are the typical stages that a prospect passes through in your funnel, key objections and how to overcome them etc.

Another common mistake, is hiring a sales trainer before even setting a sales process. Many tech companies think that selling is easy and hiring sales people is enough to start selling. This is not true, you have to setup your sales process before actually get into hiring mode and it’s take a lot of work.

9 – Consistency in follow ups

I get it nobody wants to be “that” person who does not stop calling. Whilst I would never phone anyone every day and fall into the harassment zone, we can follow up in a respectful way.

It takes up to between 8 and 12 follow up calls to close a deal perfectly. While most sales reps just stop at the 3rd call and complain about the low number of closed deal or even why the company losing revenue.

People tend to lead busy lives and if the email you send or voicemail you leave arrives with them at an inconvenient time, they may forget to respond or, be full of intention to, but then something else happens that takes priority.  Past research has shown that it can take up to seven touch points with a prospective client before they take action and with the huge rise in social media, this figure can now be significantly higher.

After someone has requested some information on your business and you have sent it out, a simple seven-point contact plan could be as below.  Once a prospect buys from you, they would move out of the remaining sequence and be added to your client mailing list so that ongoing contact is still maintained.  The types of contact you have will be determined by the information you have available so at the point of initial enquiry, get as much information as you can. Ask for an email as the bare minimum but if you can, take a phone number and mailing address.

  • Attempt contact via email or phone call to see if info received and if any questions. If no response, leave a message or send acknowledgment email (within 24 hours)
  • Follow up call to prospect and if not there, leave a message (+24 hours from step 1)
  • Send follow up email (+ 1 week from step 2)
  • Send a written letter (+ 1 week from step 3)
  • Final phone call (+ 1 month from step 4)
  • Final email (+ 1 week from step 5)
  • Final letter – confirm no further contact will be made but will add to mailing list (+ 1 month from step 6)

Once prospects have moved off the main seven steps and on to your mailing list, this database of contacts can be used for sending out your newsletter, free advice, and tips and for future marketing purposes including competitions/surveys etc.

10 – Selling when its raw

Excitement is a natural human feeling, we tend to enjoy it when it comes. However, for sales world it is not the best thing when it is being handled wrongly.

Many sales reps get excited when they first get in touch with a prospect and they put the sales talk on the table at the very first moments. Neglecting the importance of building trust and understanding with the prospect.

Plus with the world of social media today, it is highly advised the let your target audience consume your free content before letting them know that you’re selling something.

If a prospect consumed your content, it will be easier for you to let them consume your products and services. For the reason that they interacted with you before out of a sales frame, and they acquired a free added value out of your content. At that time you can bring the sales talk, and you will see yourself the efficiency of patience.

It is easy and simple for the mind, let them consumer your free content, build trust and understanding, unleash the sales beast and seal the deal.

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