As most VPs of Sales and Chief Revenue Officers (CROs) know, the mortality rate for employment of those charged with meeting an organization’s top line revenue is quite high. Believe it or not, the job security of a VP of Sales or CRO is often determined by whether they made the number for the last quarter.
So, what can you do to avoid becoming just another sales casualty and wind up on the chopping block? Obviously, there are some obstacles that are beyond your control, including when the product doesn’t work; when there’s no market for the product; or when the product isn’t competitive enough from what’s already out there. These issues are outside your control but can still lead to job loss. There are, however, several fatal mistakes that you CAN control, and I have outlined five of the most common below.
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1. Signing up for an unachievable revenue target.
This is the classic situation sales VPs and CROs find themselves in because the goal line keeps moving during the revenue budgeting process and negotiation. During sales budgeting, you might get pressured into signing off on an ever-increasing and, quite frankly, unachievable revenue target thanks to an unclear understanding of the market by the board, a wish to look better to higher-ups, a lack of knowledge about how quickly engineering can turn around a product, or any number of factors.
Once that target has been agreed to, however, it’s up to you to deliver it, and you’re going to get pressure and requests for funds to deliver from marketing and engineering. Marketing will always need more lead generation programs to generate marketing qualified leads and engineering needs resources to deliver on the product deliverables/time frames that had previously been promised. The bottom line is that once you sign up for an overaggressive number, you’re the one that is held accountable for not achieving or exceeding the unachievable.
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2. Poor hiring of sales talent and inability to develop them.
Unfortunately, many in sales leadership roles find themselves without a strong sales team when they join a company or they don’t know how to properly motivate their sales teams. This often results in hiring new sales reps under tight time constraints and assuming they’ll be fine instead of properly vetting candidates to find the right people, which can lead to poor hiring decisions (and then having to go through the whole process all over again) or not filling open positions in a timely manner.
If you don’t take the time at the start to hire and motivate your sales team, you’ll miss revenue targets and have unpredictable forecasts, high turnover, and inability to scale, which can lead to you becoming sales roadkill.
3. Not communicating with customers the way they want to communicate.
In a report on the future science of B2B sales growth, McKinsey & Company noted that one way to win in B2B sales is to engage customers the way they want to be engaged, be it through digital tools, email, live chat, or video conferencing, instead of just choosing one way and sticking with it because it’s worked in the past.
It’s time to stop pummeling customers with a barrage of marketing automation drip and sales nurturing email spam campaigns and contact them the way they want to be contacted. If you’re selling something other than a pure commodity, the ability to build a trusted relationship with that customer is often what determines whether your company wins or loses the business. This requires a conversation, not just a series of email monologues.
Yes, email is a useful selling tool, but it should not replace a real conversation between buyer and seller. In order to understand your buyers’ needs and articulate the unique value proposition being offered, you need to train their sales team to get to know the customer and establish a relationship with them. Basically, sit down and talk.
4. Ineffectively defining, targeting, and reaching the best prospects.
Certainly, there are great tools for managing sales data, including customer relationship management (CRM) systems like Salesforce, Zoho, and Microsoft Dynamics. CRMs deliver value through a central repository of data, but they aren’t enough when it comes to increasing your sales team’s productivity.
in order to help your sales team be more effective and meet or exceed the revenue numbers you signed off on, they need a set of tools that can leverage the data within the CRM to determine the prospects that are most likely to convert and the best way to reach them. Additionally, in order for sales to be successful in having more conversations with the right people, they also need to know when and how to optimally reach each specific prospect.
5. Not investing in the right sales engagement stack technology.
Your sales team needs the right technology or platform to allow them to leverage the data that resides in the CRM to increase the amount of customer engagements they achieve each day. When they succeed, you succeed by achieving their own metrics and not being fired. Ideally, your salespeople need a multi-channel customer engagement platform that supports communicating with customers the way they prefer to communicate—through email, voice, social media, text, or direct mail.
Today’s sales leadership will always be in a high-pressure and high-risk position due to revenue being the lifeline of an organization. But the odds of survival, being successful, and not winding up on the side of the road with a vulture standing next to you, can be dramatically improved if you remain aware of the above pitfalls.
Reach out to us here at ConnectLeader today to see how the right outbound sales software can help your business reach its goals and keep you employed. Simply click here or give us a call at 800-955-5040.