Did you know that 69% of B2B salespeople feel they don’t not have enough opportunities in their pipeline to meet sales quota?

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This data comes from a recent survey conducted by Selling Power and ValueSelling Associates that surveyed more than 300 B2B sales professionals about their quotas. We uncovered key elements that contribute to a salesperson’s ability to consistently achieve sales quota year after year.

Today I’m sharing with you the main reasons why salespeople are missing quota and how you can use this information to make sure you are not one of them.

Three Reasons Reps Don’t Make Quota

In researching quota attainment, our survey showed that three main factors that impact quota attainment are:

  1. Not having enough opportunities in the sales pipeline.
  2. Working with an inefficient sales process.
  3. The salesperson fails to communicate value to the prospect or customer.

Many sales leaders chalk up missed quotas to the fact that salespeople are not spending enough time prospecting, whereas salespeople are more likely to say their lack of quota attainment is because they don’t have enough leads flowing into the pipeline. Sales leaders also report that they have a defined sales process, and sales reps don’t follow it.

Salespeople who said they were likely to miss quota tend to receive moderate-to-low levels of sales training (both on product and skills), lack the support of a formal sales coaching program, and lack formal training on how to communicate value to customers. Clearly, salespeople who aren’t coached or trained properly tend to fall off the quota attainment track.

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Amount of training received as reported by sales reps who said they were likely to miss quota.

Let’s talk about ways you can overcome these common obstacles to make your monthly quota.

How to Overcome Your Obstacles and Attain Quota

While the formula for quota attainment will always be unique to each salesperson and sales team, here are three critical steps you can take to improve.

Keys to sales quota attainment

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1. Fill your sales pipeline.

It’s no surprise the results of our survey show sales leaders and salespeople agree that filling the sales pipeline is a challenge. To keep the sales pipeline full, organizations must focus on both lead generation and a disciplined approach to prospecting by the sales reps themselves.

Many of the sales leaders who took our survey believe reps neglect their prospecting efforts. To address this issue, there needs to be a consistent framework and you must have patience and discipline in the prospecting process, including scheduling non-negotiable time blocks on your calendar to prospect.

To be successful with prospecting, you need to be disciplined and hold yourself accountable. Persistence will pay off if you do your homework to uncover the needs, wants, desires, and problems of your prospects. When you link your message to the company’s top-line issues, you are more likely to get a response.

When prospecting, your cadence with multiple communication channels. For example, you could start with an email with value-added information, and then follow up two days later with a phone call, leaving a message if you get their voicemail. Wait two days and send a LinkedIn InMail asking to connect, and then call again three days later.

Most sales reps give up too soon. Our research on B2B Prospecting Challenges from the Front Lines found that 54% of initial meetings required more than five touch points to book an initial meeting. Persistence and creativity are key for successful prospecting.

2. Implement a simple sales process.

The importance of a clear sales process

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Percentage of sales reps who believe their company’s sales process is effective.

With a solid pipeline in place, salespeople need a simple sales process they can follow easily. The key word here is "simple" and this is much easier said than done. Many sales teams make the mistake of creating a process that has too many steps or inadvertently causes their reps to devote time to non-selling activities. As a sales rep, if you feel your sales process isn’t easy to follow, ask your sales leaders for additional coaching to understand how to implement the process with consistency and discipline.

Of course, the sales process implemented is really up to your company. However, you can control the consistency of your efforts. Consistency means you are in it for the long-term. Sales reps who demonstrate consistent behaviors focused in the right direction, outperform their peers.

A consistent sales rep will say, "There's always more that I can do to advance this opportunity," instead of saying "I’ve done enough." Discipline means doing the tasks that need to get done, even when you don’t feel like it. There are a lot of salespeople who say they hate to pick up the phone, they hate to cold call. Guess what? Successful people do it anyway, and they do it with discipline.

3. Consistently communicate value.

Buyers today are very clear that they are looking for reps who can provide value. Communicating value is a major contributing factor for sales professionals who are on track to attain quota. You need to know how to speak the language of business and add real value beyond a product’s features and benefits.

When sales teams empower salespeople to convey value, reps can gain more traction with their prospects. This typically results in higher levels of motivation to prospect more frequently and routinely, which leads to an uptick in overall sales results.

Communicating value requires some effort and a curiosity about your prospects and their businesses. You must be prepared with insightful questions that make people stop, take note, and engage. Also, invest the time to learn the basics of business and financial terminology.

When you gain an understanding about what's going on with your prospect companies and their industries, you’ll begin to gain business acumen. This will let you tie your objectives to the company’s business goals and explain the valuable impact of what you’re selling to executive buyers.

What’s really holding you back and causing you to miss quota? Our research on this topic shows us that pipeline, process, and communicating value are key. Sales leaders can help ensure quota attainment for their teams through consistency in prospecting efforts, simplicity in the sales process, and value in communications.

Our research also demonstrates that salespeople who do not receive the proper training or coaching tend to underperform and miss their quotas. If reps truly grasped how to sell value and received proper training on this skill, they’d likely be closer to achieving quota and goals. Are you receiving the sales training you require to meet or exceed quota?

To learn more about our research, download the ValueSelling Associates eBook: The Three Keys to Sales Quota Attainment along with the accompanying infographic.

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Originally published Aug 31, 2020 8:30:00 AM, updated August 31 2020