When it comes to sales, I've just about seen it all. I spent a 13-year career in B2B technology sales and account management before making the leap to starting my company. In those roles, I worked with startups all the way up to Fortune 500 accounts helping them with their technology.
While I had my moments of glory, not all of it was great. Much of what I witnessed in my run in B2B sales was a lot of high pressure and stress put on the sales team, which lead to high turnover rates.
If your company is committing the following blunders, chances are it is driving your top talented sales professionals to test for greener grass at the competition.
1) Marketing Department Not Pulling its Weight
Sales reps depend on their marketing department to generate leads for them. All too often, there were significant disconnects between the sales and marketing teams at the organizations I worked for.
2) Schedule Too Many Meetings
One of the companies I used to work for scheduled so many meetings and conference calls that it was almost impossible to stay productive. While some meetings are necessary to maintain the flow of information, holding excessive meetings keeps your sales people from having enough time to perform sales activities.
You want your salespeople to spend their time in meetings with potential customers, not sitting in redundant internal meetings.
3) Burden Them Down With Customer Service
Does your company bog your sales professionals down with customer service? If sales people are constantly being burdened with customer service, it takes them away from the activities that produce sales.
To avoid this make sure that your support people are doing the customer service and your sales people are selling. Some companies give way too much customer service to sales people. Not only do they typically do a poor job it stifles their productivity.
4) Produce an Unreliable Product
There is nothing worse as a sales professional than to sell a product that ends up causing problems for the customer. Yes, this can come back to the sales rep if they sold a product that was not a good fit.
However, when the solution was the right fit and the product under performs, it ruins the credibility of the sales rep. Their productivity takes a hit as they are looking for ways to fix the problem rather than selling.
5) Internal Processes Are Broken
If your internal processes are broken to the point where your sales reps spend a lot of time spinning their wheels, then you need to figure ways to improve them. By losing time tripping over your own feet, your company will be losing deals to your competitors that have figured out ways of being more nimble.
Losing a deal to a competitor because of internal issues drives salespeople crazy. It is hard enough to beat the competition but when you are battling against your company to get stuff done, closing a deal can feel like an insurmountable task.
6) Threaten Them With Their Job Constantly
Sales people realize what they are signing up for when they get into it. They realize that if they under perform they will be shown the door. However, constantly reminding them of this, and threatening their job every time a goal is missed ends up doing much more harm than good.
Sales is stressful! Don't add to the stress by constantly threatening. If this is the only way your company knows how to motivate salespeople, then it is time to reconsider your managerial strategy.
Ask any sales professional and they will tell you that when they are constantly threatened with their job, they will retreat into a protective shell and ultimately seek another job.
7) Set Unrealistic Goals
If very few reps are hitting quota, it could be that the goals are unrealistic. This drives sales people crazy as they know that to earn the income they desire they need to hit or exceed quota.
Sometimes sales people wonder how in the world did they come up with that number? Try explaining the rationale behind the sales goals. Rather than just arbitrarily picking a number that is unrealistic and unattainable.
8) Too Much Time Spent on Reporting
I once worked for a company that required sales reps to record their activity in both a CRM system and via a manual paper process. I often wondered why the company invested in a fancy CRM system if they are going to still have a paper process in place. There was certainly not a need for both! Invest in a solid CRM system and train your sales reps to use it effectively.
Too much unnecessary manual reporting is a productivity killer.
At the end of the day, sales professionals want to work for a company that treats them fairly and gives them the best opportunity to make a lot of money.