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Why is Your Sales Team Underperforming? Diagnose Before You Prescribe

Oct 19th, 2017


Imagine you’re at the doctor for a checkup. They take your temperature and immediately assign you a clean bill of health. But they never listened to your breathing, heart rate, or took your blood pressure or weight. Well, this would never happen because doctors take a holistic approach to accurately assess the overall health of their patients.

Too often, we see sales teams jump to quick conclusions when they identify a dip in sales performance. For example, if your sales team is closing fewer deals than usual, many organizations will say “we need more leads in the funnel!” Sales enablement leaders need to work with sales leadership and dive into the data before coming up with a remedy to correct the problem.

Here are 5 critical steps sales enablement leaders should take to ensure they are viewing their sales performance problems holistically and prescribing the right solution.

Step 1: Review benchmarks

The first step in diagnosing a problem within your sales team is to review key performance indicators (KPIs). Reviewing these three KPIs will give you an idea of how to prescribe a diagnosis.

  • Percentage of reps hitting quota – Quota is a difficult benchmark to set. If 100% of your sales reps are meeting quota every month, it probably means you aren’t setting quota high enough. If a very small percentage of reps are meeting quota, you are likely setting it too low. Therefore, this metric can’t be looked at in a vacuum – compare them against the following KPIs to get a fuller picture.   Keep in mind that you need about 12-18 months to gain accurate quota benchmarking to use in decision making.
  • Win rate – Win rate is a key indicator of rep performance and allows you to easily identify changes in the individual and teamwide performance of your reps. Analyze win rates month-over-month or year-over-year to identify trends in performance.
  • Length of sales cycle – If historical data shows that the length of your sales cycle has increased significantly, you should view this as a red flag. It’s critical that you drill down into why this change has occurred, as it could be a result of specific challenges that your reps are facing. One way to figure out this issue is to examine your sales cycle by stage (we’ll talk more about this in step 2).

Step 2: Analyze your sales cycle by stage

Get ready to roll up your sleeves, because this step requires some digging into your CRM with the help of your sales operations team. Analyzing your sales cycle by stage will allow you to spot trends that may be slowing down or derailing your deals from closing.

Start by comparing velocity by stage, or how long it takes an opportunity to go from stage 1 to stage 2. How does it compare from rep to rep (keeping tenure in mind), across territories and industries, as well as over time? For example, if it used to take 7 days to go from stage 1 to stage 2 and now it takes 15 days, that could indicate there’s a hitch in your process.

Also look at the conversion rate by stage. Is there a large percentage of opportunities that aren’t making it past stage 2? What is happening at that stage that is causing deals to stall?

Step 3: Shadow reps on calls with prospects

One of the most revealing exercises to diagnose a problem within your team is to listen in on their calls with prospects, or use screen recording to see what they are presenting on their screens. Observation is key to figuring out where the problems lie. Some key points of consideration during these calls are:

  • What are the quality of leads reps are speaking with?
  • Are reps comfortable covering common topics with prospects? For example, articulating the product benefits, handling objections, discussing competitive differentiators, price or changes in the market?
  • Is there a lead transfer issue? Are prospects being asked the same questions throughout the hand-off process?
  • Are prospects given a clear next step in the process before the rep ends the call?
  • Most importantly, are reps identifying and understanding the prospect’s business challenges so they can align the conversation appropriately?

Step 4: Assess reps’ skillsets

Once you’ve been on calls with several reps, you probably have a feel for their overall skillsets and competencies. But sales readiness technology allows you to take it one step further by analyzing past video coaching challenges.

With each set of coaching challenges, you can look for trends in competency gaps across your whole team. For example, if sales managers are consistently giving poor marks to reps in one area, you can review those coaching challenges to see exactly where reps are falling short. From there, you can assign just-in-time training or additional coaching challenges so reps can iron out the necessary skills.  

Step 5: Establish a win/loss program to identify other factors at play

A win/loss program is critical for organizations to identify why reps won or lost a deal. Win/loss programs involve interviewing prospects or customers after the sales process to get unfiltered feedback. If a rep won a deal, which product features or aspects of the sales process convinced them to choose you over the competition? If a rep lost a deal, what did the competition offer the prospect that you couldn’t? Was the deal lost because the rep didn’t 1) sell into the ideal target, 2) differentiate enough from competitors or 3) reach the decision maker or cultivate a champion?

This process will allow you to understand individual competency gaps in reps, hone your sales readiness strategy, develop a list of buyer pain points, and identify external factors like competitive differentiators or changes in the market. You can also repurpose your findings from the win/loss program as peer learning content for other reps.

Sales readiness technology gives sales enablement leaders the confidence they need to ensure reps are field-ready. Download this free Sales Readiness Technology Buyer’s Guide to help guide your buying decision.