7 years ago
February 21, 2017

7 Causes for Plateauing in Sales

These causes behind plateauing in sales can help sales managers find the root issues and put a stop to it.

Claire McConnachie Recruiter
Claire McConnachie

Plateauing in sales is known as “plateauing syndrome,” which is when sales from individual sales reps reach a stalemate or even begin to decline, often with no immediately apparent cause. Plateauing in sales is undesirable because it not only fails to move the organization forward but it also stalls sales reps’ careers and can have a demotivational effect on the rest of the sales team. These causes behind plateauing in sales can help sales managers find the root issues and put a stop to it.

1. Over-Analysis

Most sales managers are familiar with the concept of analysis paralysis, where too many alternatives lead to no action being taken. For sales reps, analysis paralysis can lead to plateauing in sales when too many opportunities lead to confusion and poor time management. In this scenario sales reps can become stressed as they attempt to catch up to the curve, and despite their efforts sales remain flat. Sales managers can remedy this cause for plateauing in sales by coaching affected sales reps in time management and decision making practices.

2. Reduced Challenges

Sales reps thrive on challenge, but it is possible for a sales rep to learn his or her job so well that the typical sale for which he or she is responsible is no longer challenging. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest causes for plateauing in sales for sales managers to remedy. Adding responsibilities and encouraging larger sales within the sales rep’s territory can soon get this plateaued sales rep back in action.

3. Conflicts Between Perception and Direction

Causes for plateauing in sales can build on one another, so if plateauing is not addressed timely the problem can escalate. If a sales rep is plateauing in sales due to another cause and does not realize it, a conflict between the sales rep’s perception and direction can arise. The major risk with this type of plateauing in sales is that eventually, the sales rep may begin to slide backwards. However, this sales rep can usually adopt easily if given the right direction.

4. Skills Could Benefit from an Update

As industries and marketplaces change, so must the skills and abilities that sales reps bring to the table. If a sales rep is not keeping up with the pace of change with continuing education, plateauing in sales can be the result. Additional coaching and training from the sales manager or dedicated trainer can help sales reps plateauing due to a skills gap start reaching new milestones.

5. Accomplishment Has Been Lost

Plateauing in sales sometimes follows changes to compensation or incentive plans, when sales reps who were earning a predictable amount loose the feeling of predictability and accomplishment that known targets created. Frequently all that sales reps who are plateauing in sales from this cause need is further coaching on how the changed compensation and incentives work and will ultimately benefit the sales rep.

6. Personal Goal Setting Has Become Secondary

Sales reps are their own best motivators, and the best sales people motivate themselves by regularly setting personal goals. A sales person who is not doing this may face plateauing in sales since there are no milestones to achieve once quota has been met. Forestall plateauing in sales due to lack of personal goals by encouraging all sales reps to set personal goals and share these with you and the rest of the sales team for added motivation.

7. Paths to Advancement Are Not Clear

If forward progress is not incentivized, sales reps may reach a sales pace that is comfortable for them and decide to stay there, purposefully creating plateauing in sales. If other causes for plateauing in sales do not seem to be involved, schedule a one on one with the plateauing sales rep to find out whether career motivation is behind the plateau, and what can be done to help the sales rep move forward.

Claire McConnachie Recruiter

Claire McConnachie

Claire has 4+ years of experience in sales and recruitment. As a Director of Client Services, her main objective is to connect great people to great companies by building strong relationships with both top clients and candidates in the sales industry. She specializes in sales roles of all seniority levels for both enterprise and start-up clients North American wide. When Claire isn't networking with top talent, she enjoys being outdoors, traveling and spending time with friends & family.