6 Unacceptable Excuses of an Underperforming Sales Team

by: Luke Kreitner July 9, 2018

Another missed quota. Not only is it embarrassing for your sales team, it’s affecting how management views your leadership style and abilities. Is it you? Is it your team? Before you push for team-wide turnover, here are six unacceptable and totally fix-able reasons why underperforming sales could be haunting you:

underperforming sales

  1. Your underperforming sales team isn't properly trained to meet sales goals.

    There are always consequences to poor sales training, and one of those consequences is why you’re reading this piece. Without a paddle to guide them through the pipeline, customer engagement or product knowledge, your team could be turning off customers from your product. Your sales reps may suffer from a variety of sales training ills: not being well-versed on products, operating on incorrect information or just plain forgetfulness. Whichever it is, it’s hurting your revenue goals and decreasing customer satisfaction.

  2. Your sales strategies don’t include following up frequently enough.

    Sales as an industry is nothing without constant follow up – but you know that. The problem arises when sales reps are aware that follow ups are essential to their jobs, but fail to make a call, write an email or meet prospects in-person. While following up seems as natural as breathing for salespeople, more than half don’t. Consider this staggering statistic: it takes an average of 18 calls to connect with a prospect. Pair this with the stats that 90% of salespeople give up before the fifth contact, but 80% of sales close after the fifth contact, and you’re cooking with a recipe for underperforming sales.

  3. Reps miss sales goals because aren’t they aren't held accountable.

    A sales rep promises gold by the end of the quarter, but comes up empty-handed. While it’s natural to blame the sales rep for this, you must also examine how you hold your team accountable – that is, if you do. A sales team that lacks accountability misses quotas simply because no one has the means, structure or memory to follow up with prospects or check in with their salespeople’s progress.

  4. Salespeople can’t increase sales because they aren’t accessing the data required to prospect better.

    Does your sales team struggle to find the right prospect? If so, they may be unware of who the ideal target customer is for your company’s products or services. Many an underperforming sales staff foregoes this essential knowledge, and simply sell to anyone that looks like a potential buyer. Selling to everyone means that your team may be missing out on selling to the right audience, stretching themselves thin in the process.

    Perhaps the data is hard or unintuitive for them to access, or maybe they’re not getting the data they need at all. No matter the reason, the results is an underperforming sales team.

  5. Your team has low morale or lacks sales motivation.

    Company culture, misalignment with marketing and lack of feedback from management can derail your sales team’s morale and sales motivation. But morale and motivation are two different animals. Build morale back up with training, coaching, accountability, and incentive programs for high performing sellers.

    Motivating an underperforming sales team sometimes means that you have to make some cuts. Any reps that still have “low morale” after you overhaul team culture are unmotivated. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to change that. When salespeople lack motivation yet still come into to your office every day, you risk demoralizing your higher achievers. After all, if laggards can stay on the team, why should high performers go the extra mile?

  6. You aren’t cycling out your bottom 20% sales reps. They are the group who may be dragging down your sales goals.

    Training – ineffective. Incentive program ideas – ineffective. Coaching – ineffective. If you’ve invested all that you could as a manager and a few sales reps continue to underperform, note that these individuals are your bottom 20%. According to Jack Welsh, former CEO of GE, you must replace your bottom 20% with a fresh batch of coachable sales reps.

Sometimes training can be changed for the better. Sometimes complicated sales processes make it easy to drop the ball on consistent follow-ups. Poor sales performance happens, but as a sales leader, you can’t let it stand between your team and their revenue goals.


About Luke Kreitner

Luke Kreitner is the VP of Sales at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that specializes in helping B2B businesses accelerate growth, increase sales, motivate channel partners and retain B2B customers.