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If your sales team is underperforming, sales enablement may be the solution. A sales enablement platform streamlines the sales process. However, sales enablement isn’t a catch-all solution. It can’t fix fundamental problems with your team members or management.
It’s important to look at the many internal factors that could be causing your sales team to underperform. You need to identify whether the problem lies with your processes or with even deeper issues. In this article, we look at some of the main problems that cause sales teams to underperform. We also ask whether a sales enablement platform can resolve these problems.
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The Top Reasons Why a Sales Team Underperforms
There are a number of reasons why sales teams underperform. Some of these are easier to fix than others. The reason might be critical flaws with your business’s offering. Or maybe it’s a lack of incentive for salespeople or something else. The severity of the reasons will determine how you should address them and if sales enablement can play a part.
Why Sales Organizations Fail
The success of any sales organization is dependent on several factors. Issues with just one of these can cause sales teams to fail. Therefore, it’s critical that you have a solid foundation for your sales team to build on.
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, “Why Sales Organizations Fail,” Steve W. Martin outlines the four sales stages where failure can happen.
The important lesson here is that you need to make sure your organization as a whole is functioning properly. Further, you need to ensure that your processes are set up for success. What’s more, you must do this before you evaluate your sales team’s underperformance.
Why Sales Teams Underperform
There are a number of reasons sales teams underperform. Some are directly related to the failure of the organization as a whole. Still others come down to management, team leads, and individual salespeople themselves.
1. Sales reps are not given the credit they deserve.
Some organizations view sales reps as being at the bottom of the food chain. In reality, however, your sales team plays a vital role. That is, they create business and keep the sales pipeline alive. Without sales, the company will fail.
Unfortunately, sales teams are often forgotten when praise is given in the boardroom. Their contributions aren’t even acknowledged at times. Moreover, some business owners believe that sales team members are expendable.
On the contrary, however, there are significant costs—in terms of time, money, and company morale—that accompany the hiring and training of new people.
2. There is no clear mission.
Selling more of X and even more of Z does not qualify as a mission. This is not a rallying cry that readies your sales team members to tackle the market.
Salespeople are human and they need purpose. That is, they need to have something bigger than themselves that they believe in. This helps them make that vital connection with their prospects. Having a clear vision gives your sales team pride in your business. If you don’t have a coherent mission statement that is unique to your business alone, your sales will be severely affected.
3. There is no standard definition of the term “qualified lead.”
There have been epic battles between marketing and sales teams as to what constitutes a qualified lead. Such disparities within your business aren’t beneficial to the business. When one team—or multiple teams—bring in seemingly qualified leads, the result is wasted time and resources. What ensues are unnecessary debate and conflict between colleagues and numerous lost leads. Salespeople, having failed to meet their targets, are the ones that pay the price. And it’s a vicious cycle, as no one addresses the real issues behind underperformance.
4. Poor compensation plans and weak incentives lead to low morale.
Lack of compensation for successfully closed deals can lead to lower morale and decreased productivity. What’s more, it can significantly affect employee turnover.
As a business, you should be offering your sales team a fair commission bonus for closed sales. Such rewards motivate a salesperson to perform. Plus, they also make them feel that they are contributing something important to the organization.
And, after all, they are. It’s only fair that you recognize and reward their contributions.
However, don’t underestimate the effect of other incentives. Consider different ways you can motivate your sales team that aren’t just monetary in nature.
5. Weak people fill management and leadership roles.
As Jeff Pruitt, Chairman and CEO of Tallwave, puts it: “If your team isn’t selling, the first place to look is in the mirror. Do you have processes in place that put the customer first? Have you implemented a feedback system that gives performance reviews on a regular basis? Could you rattle off the key components to your follow-up strategy? If your sales team is disorganized, confused, and flying by the seat of their collective pants, it’s probably because there wasn’t a solid process in place to begin with.”
A sales team can only work with what they’re given. They must rely on the processes you have in place. If these aren’t working, it is not their responsibility to change them. Of course, salespeople who can recognize that processes don’t work, and who are proactive and intuitive enough to suggest new ways of working, should be rewarded. However, management must be able to acknowledge that change needs to take place.
How Sales Enablement Can Help
Of course, the problems we’ve outlined above are not things that any tool can magically fix. These are fundamental issues with processes and set ways of working.
Sales enablement apps and tools streamline the sales process. They can increase sales. They can help you train new salespeople. And they can improve communication between teams and departments. However, they cannot define a qualified lead for your individual business or write your company mission statement for you.
On the other hand, if you have structured your organization well and are actively supporting your team to make more sales, but you aren’t getting results, sales enablement can help.
Below are some examples of how your team will benefit:
1. Quicker responses to leads’ requests
This may be a familiar situation: Your salesperson is away from his desk meeting a potential client and hoping to close the deal. Everything seems to be going smoothly and they’re about to shake hands. At the last moment, the prospect remembers something and requests more information. If your salesperson doesn’t have this information on hand and they have to start the infamous back and forth, it could delay, if not completely derail, the deal.
Sales enablement platforms allow you to store documents in the cloud for quick and easy retrieval when you need them. You can also save sales materials, such as an expected timeline or pricing information. This will allow you to save time and close deals faster. This way, you can give your potential client the information they ask for immediately. This will leave no excuses for not closing the deal.
2. Presenting information that is conducive to sales
Collateral is crucial for appealing to your prospects. This does not necessarily mean beautiful graphics and impressive numbers. Although these things can help, they may not be what actually works. With printed collateral, or even materials on laptops, this is difficult, if not impossible, to measure.
On the other hand, sales enablement apps give you insight into which materials have the biggest effect on closing deals. This will help you to know what will deliver results.
3. Adapting to last-minute changes
Let’s say your salesperson is waiting to meet a potential client. They notice an email sent, just minutes earlier, stating that a person from their prospect’s legal department will be joining the meeting. What’s more, this person has some questions.
Your salesperson enters panic mode. They can’t access the information quickly and easily, and they certainly can’t edit their presentation.
A sales enablement tool, such as a mobile presentation app, allows your sales team to retrieve such information and add it to their sales presentations. What could have been a deal breaker can easily turn into the one crucial thing that closes the deal. Not only could it clinch the sale, but your employee will also score points for being prepared for any eventuality. This is crucial for client satisfaction.
Wrapping Things Up
If your sales team is underperforming, you should first evaluate your company processes. Are they robust enough to support sales? If your processes are sound, sales enablement could be the advantage you’re missing.
About the Author
Charlotte Powell is head of Design and Marketing at iPresent Ltd. She says, “Driven by beautiful design and a great user experience, iPresent allows me to use my range of creative skills in an open environment. Here everyone is passionate about their field, creating an epic Sales Enablement Platform and making sure our customers are happy.”