10 years ago
January 6, 2015

How To Rescue Your Sales Team From Failure‏

There are as many reasons for sales team failure as there are sales teams. A sales team that fails is suffering from a number of impacts.

Rhys Metler

rescue your sales team from failureThere are as many reasons for sales team failure as there are sales teams. Lack of new business, poor morale, and inadequate management support are common causes of sales team failure, but industry or economic factors can also play a part. More often than not, a sales team that fails is suffering from a number of these impacts. As supports to a transition strategy, these three responses to prevent sales team breakdowns will work in most situations, even if the underlying issues leading to failure have already escalated into serious problems. 

Create Business Processes – And Follow Them

Process management for a sales team is just as essential as process management for other business areas. Without clearly defined processes, a sales team of eight individuals might take eight different approaches to business, which more often than not undermines sales. Creating process documentation outlining recommended practices for prospecting, follow-up, customer acquisition, and customer retention is a must to support a cohesive sales team. Business processes should also address common issues, such as: 

  • What processes should your sales team be following to reach other departments?
  • Who are the contacts to give customers for escalated support?
  • How can a sales person access highly variable information, such as delivery timelines?

Such processes will help the sales team actively cultivate new business while supporting existing customers efficiently and effectively, raising sales numbers across the board. Additionally, creating processes for your sales team to follow lessens pressure on other operational areas, helping to prevent sales team failure through interdepartmental conflict. 

Regularly Separate Non-Performers

Poor performers are a fact of sales; no matter how good you are at finding the best sales people, a certain number of hires simply will not work out in your business environment. One of the more serious mistakes a sales manager can make is to tolerate poor performance in hopes that with coaching and additional training, a consistently non-performing sales rep will improve.

While there are scenarios where coaching and training are called for, if these do not improve performance within a set period of time, the best option is usually to separate. Poor performance from any direction brings down an entire sales team’s performance, and if unaddressed can escalate into morale and other problems. Separate when necessary to avoid the failure of the entire team.

Put an Emphasis on New Hire Training

So you hired a sales eagle with a track record of results. You can simply show them their desk and how to access your process documents then let the sales roll in, right? Unfortunately, sales people rarely succeed without the full support of their sales manager and the sales team. Even top sales reps with years of experience will perform better and cultivate results more quickly with comprehensive new hire training. Regardless of experience, all new hires for your sales team should undergo the same sales training. On-board these reps with a training program that addresses: 

  • What your business does, what its history is, and who your competitors are
  • How your sales team conducts regular activities like lead distribution, prospecting, and sales presentations
  • How your sales team’s ordering, CRM, and other data management systems work

A training program sets the tone for success right from the first day, and ensures that all sales reps are following the same program. This helps your organization send out a cohesive message, and in addition to expanding sales, can also reduce new hire attrition, a common cause of sales team failure.

As a sales manager, you can save your sales team from failure and avoid the costly measure of starting over. Identifying the common problems that inhibit a sales team’s performance and investing in your team’s success are the first steps to averting breakdowns. Examine the areas where your sales team might improve and be proactive about rescuing your team from failure.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.