7 Reasons Why You’ll Fail To Hit Sales Quota

If you fail to hit sales quota, you’re in good company.

That’s not where you want to be.

So, for a change, this post is not about creating “more pipeline”.

It’s all about the process behind the scenes that makes consistent selling a reality.

When I look back 10 years the one book that made a real impression on me was the Michael Port book called ‘Book Yourself Solid’.

This was the very first book that I read on the purpose of building a sales process based on a routine of habit. It really gave me clarity around the fact that great salespeople have a strategy that’s incredibly simple around things that they do every day.

The more simple the strategy, the more likely it is to be engaged with on a regular basis.

Sales processes need to be built on a routine of habits. Great salespeople create simple strategies around:

  • networking
  • prospecting
  • nurturing
  • referral
  • social selling
  • personal brand

You need to think about different tactics. Far too many salespeople typically think in a linear process.

For example, the focus is usually on the middle to end funnel activity. What this fails to address

is many other important aspects of the sales process. You’ll always fail to hit sales quota with this type of linear thinking. .

So, the reason you’re failing to hit sales quota is quite simple.

You’re not doing these seven things.

1. You don’t do enough prospecting

One reason you’re failing to hit your sales quota is that time-dependent tasks such as RFPs and sales meetings eat up your time.

This leaves prospecting on the back burner. Yet, without the relationship building of prospecting, your sales quota will remain out of reach.

In fact, this same problem has come up in every sales team I’ve witnessed. There isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. And that is true if you’re focused on a complex approach. It isn’t true if you keep the strategy simple and actionable.

That’s why we focus on daily habits to increase prospecting instead of focusing on the large end goal.

Here is a simple concept.

The 2 : 2 : 2 Strategy

Everyday, dedicate one hour to sending:

  • two outbound emails to cold prospects
  • two nurture emails to someone you’ve met previously
  • two friendlies providing or asking for an update

Each outbound should be thoughtful, personal and targeted. Making the numbers small makes it easier to execute (you’d be surprised how little you do each day).

The power of a simple strategy such as 2–2–2 is the consistency. It is consistent because it is small and manageable.

Prospecting works best when it is done every day. It doesn’t need to take long and it is often the most avoided task.

One way to combat avoidance of prospecting is to design your weeks effectively.

2. You don’t design your weeks effectively

To implement a strategy such as 2–2–2 you need to be proactive and build it into your schedule.

Being mindful of your time in advance allows you to dedicate time to the activities that will really move the needle in your sales such as:

  • prospecting
  • writing RFPs
  • networking
  • meetings

With a time for each of these, you can map your weekly and monthly schedules to keep you dedicated. Failing to do so will allow other important events such as working and developing deals to overtake your schedule.

This is another reason why simple, specific strategies work best. It is difficult to avoid or set aside a task that takes less than 30 minutes of your time.

Another key to designing your week in advance is to know which tasks you tend to avoid and to put them first thing so they are done and out of the way, leaving more time and energy to focus on other aspects.

The best salespeople have complete control of their time and their calendar.

They avoid being reactionary. This concept appears so obvious. But again most people are not thoughtful enough to balance their time effectively.

3. You don’t leverage referrals

91% of customers state that they’d give referrals, but only 11% of sales people actually ask for them. This is a huge waste of potential marketing that accounts, in part, for why you aren’t hitting your sales quota.

More troublesome is the way the referrals are being requested. Read the following two requests, which would be easier for a consumer to answer?

Please can I ask you for a referral to someone you might know?

Could you please forward the attached referral to these five people in your Linkedin network? (Include a message they can easily copy and send — zero hassle).

The first question requires a lot of thought and action on the prospect’s part.

In contrast, the second question is direct, only requires a yes or no response, and has all of the work done in advance.

As with all things, the key to leveraging referrals is to keep the strategy simple.

4. You don’t have a personal brand strategy

The top salespeople understand the value in personal brand development. The best do this in a very subtle and humble way. They know that their role is to offer something no other salesperson can bring. In a sense, they are a consultant or a brand in themselves.

Your personality, the way you deal with people and your relationship development. You, like everyone, know something that everyone else doesn’t know. Use that!

Go out there with a clear understanding of your niche and promote it. Developing your personal brand by leveraging the social platforms your buyers are in is important.

You need to:

  • build a content distribution plan
  • choose the best channel / platform
  • post regularly to your audience
  • offer practical ideas
  • position yourself as helpful

5. You don’t nurture prospects

Nurturing prospects is often seen as a marketing task. That is no longer the case. The sales funnel has essentially flipped.

If you’re not thinking like a marketer, you’re going to fail to hit your sales quota. It has been proven that initial contact and follow ups require consistent nurturing (in excess of eight to twelve touchpoints).

Yet sales often give up after two to three emails. Yesware released a study recently that showed “70% of unanswered sales email chains stopped after the first attempt. Only 19% went on to email a second time.”

This lack of foresight and process leaves a lot of potential untapped.

You need to think more strategically like a marketer and focus on:

  1. Nurturing people
  2. Creating value and telling stories
  3. Having a routine, automated process to help

Create different buckets or segments for nurturing different types of consumers. This can be built into your 2–2–2 and even done on a dedicated day once a month.

Each bucket should be linked to a behavioural response from the level of your current relationship.

6. You don’t partner to build engagement plans

The days of close plans are outdated. They don’t deliver the best psychological premise.

Instead, create engagement plans. They are really great ways to create more connection and service for your prospects after meeting. An engagement plan is really about building mutual activities from you and the buyer — with clear timelines focused on outcomes.

Other added benefits include:

  • Qualifying deals out more quickly when they’re not a good fit
  • Front-loading value for both parties
  • More clarity on close dates and forecasting

An Engagement Plan is not a tool to be used at the end of the deal to make sure you get it in for the end of the quarter. It belongs at the beginning, when it can most help.

For more on engagement plans this is a great article above and think about how you can action.

7. You don’t attempt new things

Sales execs, especially those with a long history and career, are notoriously bad at trying new things. They often leave it to others, such as marketers to be innovative.

By avoiding innovative thinking you are failing to engage with prospects in new ways. You need to adapt with new buying engagement, understand the sales funnel and what tactics work (or test new ones). Relationships are naturally crucial. But if you think a little more like a marketer at times in your approach to other activities. You will increase your likelihood to hit sales quota.

To increase sales you have to attempt new things such as:

  • learn about new tactics in the market every day
  • discover what makes you different and leverage it
  • develop a strong feedback process so you can evaluate yourself
  • embrace marketing as part of your role in sales
  • test and learn with new sales tools (for example, UseOrca, Cloze…)

The biggest mistake you’ll make is not having a process.

The long and short of it is that all seven of these aspects are part of a well-developed process. Create simple, actionable and consistent habits to hit your sales quota.

Consistency day-to-day is the most important step to progress. Small actions across multiple aspects of different sales activities is crucial.

Remember, don’t be linear in your approach. You need to think horizontally across multiple areas. If you have that mindset and take action around these 7 points you’ll be far more likely to close consistent revenue.


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