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There is nothing easy about leading a sales force or a sales team. Time passes fast, and you can look up to find you are behind on your commitments. There are several factors that can cause sales organizations, sales forces, sales teams, or individuals to fail to achieve their sales goals. No one sets out to miss their targets, but it isn't uncommon for B2B sales managers to come up short at the end of the year.

I once heard a senior leader of a large company suggest that the company missed the target they promised Wall Street because the sales force failed to hit their goals. Several employees told me how unhappy they were to be thrown under the bus. No good sales leader would lay that miss on their sales force. One of the qualities of a good sales leader is owning the team’s losses. The reason sales leaders miss their targets can be found in this sales growth strategy:

Do the right thing, the right way, at the right time, all the time. The sales strategy I recommend provides four factors that, when observed, explain why a sales team failed to achieve its goals.

Do the Right Thing

The first and the most likely reason a sales leader misses their targets is that their sales team doesn’t do the right thing. It is up to the sales leader to ensure their team completes the necessary sales activity. Otherwise, they will find themselves behind at the end of a period.

Leaders who don’t require senior sales reps to prospect are starting on the back foot. You may face conflict as you address this issue with your sales team, but this friction is short term and it is better than missing your targets. When senior salespeople are allowed to opt out of the activities of the sales role, others will model that behavior. Soon, you have salespeople who are more like customer service reps. When no one is engaging in target pursuit, the pipeline runs dry.

A related reason sales leaders fail to hit their targets is because they require their sales team to register every new opportunity in their CRM. This gives everyone a false sense of confidence. I follow a simple rule to improve the integrity in your pipeline.

Longtime readers of this blog will know that sales has two major motions. The first is creating new opportunities, and the second is capturing enough of them to reach their goals. No deal is ever closed without first being opened. To be sure you’ve covered both requires a strategic prospecting process.

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Do It The Right Way

The second factor that will cause a sales leader to miss their targets is that the sales force does their work in the wrong way. Here are two common examples of how doing things the wrong way leads to poor results.

First, sometimes a sales force tries to sell their leader on the idea that prospecting must be done using email because no one answers the phone. This sales force has everything backward. The telephone is one of the best B2B prospecting tools because it is the only method that provides for synchronous communication with your contact. If you are a leader or manager, count the number of emails from salespeople that flood into your inbox, then, count the number of them you respond to on any day. You want a “phone first” sales organization.

Another example of doing things the wrong way is a sales force that wants to pursue RFPs instead of cold calling. There is nothing wrong with responding to RFPs, but success with this approach requires a disruptive strategy that identifies the salesperson as an expert and authority who can challenge the RFP itself. This strategy causes the prospective buyer to recognize they've got something wrong, and that the RFP won’t deliver the results they need.

Even when a sales force is willing to do the right thing, they must do it in the right way. Effective sales leaders do not allow their teams to get in the way of their own success. The salesperson allowed to sell in whatever way they choose will lose deals they might have won, had they used a better sales approach. As a sales leader, you have the right and the obligation to determine how your sales force sells.

The Right Time

Recently, a sales force missed their sales goals. They did the right work in the right way, but they didn't have a long enough runway to hit their sales targets. The clock stopped before the sales force could improve their final score. Let's call this the unforgiving nature of the sales cycle. The B2B sales manager's jobs include making certain their sales force is doing enough of the right work in the right way at the right time.

If you have a 90-day sales cycle, salespeople must begin their pursuit of prospective clients in time to close the deal. If they are allowed to wait until there are four weeks left in the period, they will not close the deal in time and will miss the window. Trying to rush decision-makers provides a poor buying experience and will cause prospects to look for other salespeople who can work in the way they need. This is a waste of an opportunity.

In a 90-day sales cycle, the time to create new opportunities is 90 days before the end of a period. To achieve a result, you must do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time. But even this isn't enough to ensure that you hit your targets. This brings us to the fourth factor in helping salespeople ensure their commitments.

All the Time

Success in sales requires consistency. Reaching your goals means doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, all the time. As in any endeavor, sales success takes discipline. The more consistently your team operates, the more you will hit your targets.

To improve your results, you need to look at each of these four factors and make certain your team is following this very simple sales growth strategy. If your team needs help maintaining their sales discipline, go here.

Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 29, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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