Sales is a numbers game. Except when it's a people game. This constant dual-brain thinking can cause imbalances on your sales team that lead to down cycles. How should the team know what to prioritize? Maybe the numbers are good, but the prospects aren't biting. Or perhaps the relationships with customers are being drilled deep, but the net isn't being cast wide.

Whatever the issue, if your sales team isn't selling, you've got problems. Making the assumption that they understand the proper way to qualify a lead, here are five possible reasons that your salespeople aren't coming through in a bigger way.

1. They're disorganized

Organization doesn't necessarily mean the cleanliness of a salesperson's work station (though that might tell you a thing or two as well). Disorganization means a lack of focus on what makes for a qualified lead, and a lackadaisical process in place to follow up with potential customers. Cold calling and emailing are fantastic skills to have, but if all they're doing is turning up quantity and filling some kind of quota, they're not being put to good use.

Following through with leads requires some degree of research to go with a dogged pursuit. It's critical to establish trust with new contacts, and that's hard to do if a salesperson is blindly rifling through a list of 50 names without developing a strategy. If you have team members who are cold call superstars but can't close the right customers, get them to take a step back and re-focus their approach.

2. They have the wrong attitude

It takes a special breed to be prolific at sales. Temperament is key, but passion is probably more important. Passion for the industry in which you're selling, passion for the product, and passion for the person at the other end of the sale - all of these need to be present in order to be effective.

Sometimes, though, that passion manifests itself as hubris for which salespeople, if we're being honest, have an outside reputation. Success breeds ego, but past victories are no indication of future wins, especially if a salesperson is quick to rest on their laurels.

The opposite problem is just as devastating for business - salespeople who doubt their own abilities (maybe after a dry spell) or don't believe/are burnt out on the product they're selling. Find the attitude problems in your business and fix them, stat.

3. They're not good storytellers

For a job that requires outstanding communication skills, a surprising number of salespeople fumble when it comes to giving compelling reasons to trust them and the product. This is not a function of poor imagination or shoddy script writing; it's more the failure of salespeople to see beyond the product itself and speak to the pain points of their prospects.

Oftentimes the best sales storytellers don't even do the telling - they do the prompting. By asking open-ended questions over the phone or email, quality salespeople get their leads to open up about their own lives and divulge information that builds trust with the rep and leads to more pointed tactical executions down the road for connecting with customers on follow-up calls.

4. They're too busy catfighting with the marketing team

Ah, the most cliché rivalry in the business: the sales team vs. the marketing squad. Each with its own ideas of how to effectively communicate with customers, each very protective of its territory, and both failing to understand that they have much more in common than they believe.

When sales are low, sales points the finger at marketing for failing to entice enough qualified leads. Likewise, marketing bemoans the sales team's lack of follow through. In many cases, neither knows any of their so-called rivals by name. It's a problem, and it's easy to correct.

Call a company kumbaya and put marketers and sales reps on the same team, working toward the same goal: solving problems for the customer. Like any warring factions, simply gaining the perspective from the other side is invaluable in making both teams better and more efficient.

5. They're not being led properly

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.

Make sure you're setting your reps up for success with the right tools, and make sure they know how to use them to get the best data and best lists. If it means re-training, do that sooner than later. Re-evaluate your sales manager - does he or she have the right mindset to lead a group?

It's important to check for these issues even when you're having a successful sales run. You should always be chasing perfection and operating accordingly. Put the focus back on the customer, only hire reps with passion for people and your product, and guarantee team success with the process you put in place. In closing, that's how you close.

Published on: Aug 24, 2016