Key Reasons Why Sales People Fail

Having a quality sales force in place is essential to the success of most businesses. As with most employees across all positions, there are always some who just aren’t capable of performing in the position they are attempting to fill. And in some cases, even people who are a good job fit can fail depending on various circumstances. But why do sales people fail? Some of the most important reasons are:

  • Poor job alignment. The person is just not cut out to sell. As much as we want employees to succeed in certain positions, many employees are just not suited to the position in which they’ve been placed.
  • Poor organizational alignment. In this case, the individual doesn’t mesh well with the larger culture inside the business. Do their personality and core values mesh well with other employees and the culture that exists inside the company? In some case, the answer is no and could be a major roadblock to succeeding.
  • Poor management. Since sales managers are responsible for hiring, training and overseeing sales people, it’s logical that they would have a significant influence on a sales rep’s career. Unfortunately, more often than not, sales managers do a mediocre to poor job of hiring people who are cut out to sell. The amount and type of due diligence required to hire or place good sale people sometimes just isn’t there during the hiring process.
  • Laziness. Selling requires hard work and long hours. Some people simply aren’t willing to put in the time necessary to travel, complete paper work, plan, follow up on problems and issues promptly and develop strong internal and external relationships. Sales reps working just the minimum number of hours required for the job are less likely to succeed than those who put in extra time to do the things mentioned above. Many struggling sales reps put in too few hours. Certainly, there are exceptions to this, but experience tells us that sales people who put in the time necessary to be thorough and effective just tend to sell more. Simply put, selling is hard work and requires putting in the time to do it right.
  • A short-term mentality. Sales reps who view sales as a way to put a lot of money in their pockets in a hurry tend to have short-lived careers in any given organization. Why? Because they view the customer as a cash machine that they can tap quickly and at whatever cost is necessary. This type of approach leads to weak or no relationships with customers. A long-term, relationship-oriented approach is far better. The rep’s income over the short-term might not be as significant, but over the long-haul tends to be much better.
  • Lack of follow-up and service orientation. Sales people who leave customers hanging when there is a problem or a question lose credibility with their customer base. Good sales reps are highly customer-oriented and service-oriented. They bend over backwards to take care of their customers even if it means working longer hours and fighting battles as needed to get things done. The best sales people understand the critical importance of strong customer relationships.
  • Focusing on customers they are most comfortable with. Sales reps sometimes are fearful of working new or lesser relationships to the extent they need to be worked. They often gravitate toward customers they have a strong relationship with. However, some of those customers might not buy much. They might just like to chat making the sales person feel good about the possibility of buying something.
  • Having no plan. Sales reps need a plan each and every day. This plan should be priority-driven and should guide the rep as much as possible.
  • Lack of organization skills. A good sales rep is organized and deals with details. There is a school of thought that good reps are not detail-oriented. That can be true in some cases, but if the rep is not detail-oriented, he/she has to work harder to deal with the important details. Time management is critical as well. There are only so many hours in a workday and how those get used matter. Some companies are using time management apps to help their sales forces be as productive as possible.
  • Inability to multi-task. Sales reps are required to deal with several issues at the same time. Some people can’t handle the pressure of this type of work or just aren’t well equipped to process multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Poor training. Sales reps need excellent product training and sales training. A rep needs to understand how your business operates and how to sell your products or services. Too many businesses provide too little training to sales people when they start and as they move along their career paths. Whether it’s training on old or new concepts or important skills, this step can’t be skipped.
  • Bad support from the company. In some companies, the reps may do a good job, but the company fails them in some way. Perhaps internal processes are slow and inefficient. Or customer service/customer success people don’t support them well. Shipments are slow and inaccurate. The list goes on and on. Even a good sales rep can fail if the company fails them. It’s important for a sales person to know the company’s deficiencies so that he/she will not over-promise and under-deliver which, by the way, they should never do anyway.

These are some of the key reasons why sales reps fail. How do your reps stack up against this list? How well does your company support your reps?

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