Why reps miss their sales number

This post is for sales leaders – 

When Einstein said sales is a numbers game, he wasn’t wrong. He still isn’t, although the game has changed. 

Don’t get me wrong, smiling and dialing is still needed. In fact, in a world where it’s easier to set up an automated email campaign than talk to an actual human – it’s needed now, maybe more than ever. 

Consistent and predictable sales growth is no longer about the number of dials you make, the number of doors you knock on, or the number of proposals you send out.

Because our products and services are becoming more focused, so must our sales strategy. Modern sales is now about the number of qualified opportunities in your pipeline.

I missed my number because…

Sound familiar? The deal pushed, and you missed your number for the quarter. It happens. It’s happened to me. 

The issue isn’t that the decision-maker turned over, their budget got reallocated, or they won a surprise trip to Disneyland. The number got missed because it was the only real late-stage opportunity to get over the hump. 

True, pipeline coverage isn’t new. Depending on your industry, you might want to have 3-5x your quota of active pipeline…hopefully, you do.

But are they qualified opportunities? If they were – how good would you be feeling right now? Instead…how are you feeling right now?

Still, if pipeline coverage isn’t new, why were we hanging on that one deal?  

Why reps miss their sales number

I’ve carried a bag and know first-hand that developing qualified opportunities is hard. I get it. You have to know your ideal customer, what problems they have, and how you solve them. You must know the industry and demonstrate credibility and trust through helpful advice. 

But that’s not why reps miss their number these days. 

Our customer’s organizations are becoming increasingly complex – but guess what? So are ours. 

Reps miss their number because once a meaningful conversation begins, the salesperson shifts much of their energy to cradling that egg across the finish line and stops selling the next one. A one-person production line, if you will.  

We found our reps were only performing proactive selling-related activities less than 15% of the time during one assignment. They were too busy making the pitch deck, figuring out the demo, developing pricing, redlining contracts, logging data in CRM, staying on to oversee implementation, or onboarding.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard, “it’s harder to sell internally than it is to sell externally,”...I’d have enough nickels to buy bitcoin. 

It used to be reps who missed their number because of a lack of will or skill. Now there’s a third reason climbing the ranks: lack of support. 

Sales as a system

Companies that deliver predictable sales and top-line results think about sales as a system—a repeatable set of processes and teams working together for a common goal. 

If you want your reps to consistently hit their number, build a sales machine that glides qualified opportunities through the organization, not slows them down. 

Wondering what kind of machine you have? Just follow a deal through your organization and hang on. You’ll find out pretty quickly if your machine is a flywheel or pinball.

Reps shouldn’t have to play hero ball to get a deal done…but that’s a lot of what I’ve seen out there. 

Does a sales flywheel sound too good to be true? Like the mythical unicorn or free Chick-fil-A? I don’t think so. I’ve built them at two different companies and you can too.

Ask me if you want to find out more or check out this post on how to hit your sales number next year.

Published by brianhquinn

I write a weekly post to help you grow professionally, elevate your career and Become an "A" Player.