The Top 5 Reasons New Sales Reps Fail [Roundup]

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks
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top-5-reasons-sales-reps-fail.jpgWelcome to your sales weekly roundup for April 14-21. This week we’re checking out the top 5 reasons new sales reps fail, why your SDR team is pissing off buyers (and what you can do about it), and how to stop relying on cold calling. Enjoy!

The Top 5 Reasons New Sales Reps Fail

David Priemer, VP of Sales, Influitive, writes for Quotable on the main reasons he’s seen new sales rep performance falter early in their careers.

They don’t know how to add value. When aiming to add value, focus on relevant and contextualized insights rather than perfecting your product pitch. If you don’t know how to find insights or create relevant messaging, you won’t last very long.

They lack conviction. No matter how strong your pipeline is, if you don’t believe in what you’re selling, it’s going to be tough to sell to others. Priemer suggests this trick: imagine you’re calling someone to tell them they’ve just won $10 million dollars. Now try emulating that enthusiasm when trying to uncover your buyer’s pain points.

They don’t meet their customers in person. The biggest regret Priemer hears from sales reps is that they wished they’d met their customers sooner. Meeting your buyers, interacting with them and hearing their problems makes them real, rather than just an entry in your CRM, therefore enabling you to build deeper and more valuable relationships with them.

They don’t know what “good” looks like. By the time you realize a sales rep isn’t hitting their numbers, it’s too late, explains Priemer. Ability to hit revenue is a lagging indicator, rather than something reps can control, like social activity. Try reverse-engineering business goals into sales activity KPIs so reps can more accurately forecast revenue targets and understand what the ideal amount of activity looks like.

They don’t get coaching. Great coaching can improve a sales rep’s performance by up to 20%. Despite this massive impact, few companies hold managers accountable. According to Priemer, the best coaching involves “listening and driving accountability through data-driven conversations.”

Your SDR Team Is Pissing Off Buyers

Inside Sales manager Sam Feldotto makes the case for better SDR compensation, and respect. Why? Because SDRs are the face of your business, and ultimately a reflection of your own management ability. Here are the three key ways Feldotto suggests sales managers can mold their reps into successful SDRs:

Training. “Since the average ramp up period for an SDR is just over 3 months, why not use the first few weeks to build a solid foundation?” says Feldotto. He suggests a few sales resources including The SDR Chronicles with Morgan Ingram, the SalesFolk blog, and the Enterprise Sales Podcast. Heck, BUY a book for them if they’re interested in it! The point here is continual learning outside of product knowledge. That way, they’re continually improving the skills—targeting, prospecting and personalizing— that are crucial to their role.

Mentoring. As a sales manager, due your diligence with one-on-one’s, role-play and review objections they might have received recently in the market. Let your SDRs fail, learn from their mistakes and move on. Your SDRs look up to you; they need your guidance. Make the time for them and everyone will reap the benefits.

Rewards. There is so much more to incentivisation than money. Congratulatory calls from the CEO, half-days on Fridays, and clear career progression are just a few. Feldotto also urges readers to consider paying SDRs a little more. Why pay the closer an obscene amount, and disregard the salesperson who initially brought the deal in? If nothing else, Feldotto’s contribution to the SDR discussion, monetary and otherwise, is solid food for thought.

How Millennials Can Usher in the Era of Smarter Sales Engagement

Judy Tian from LinkedIn writes about the power of social selling in a modern and digitally-driven sales environment. This is how sales professionals can leave cold calling behind:

Build a professional brand. If you want your social profile to work for you, you’ve got to start crafting buyer-centric social profiles. After all, these profiles are the first thing buyers see when they Google your name. This includes a value-driven headline, appropriate profile photo and a succinct summary.

Focus on relationships. Cold calling success rates are lower than ever. The key here is to generate warm leads by asking those in your network to facilitate introductions and referrals. Compared to any other kind of lead, customer & employee referrals have the highest lead-to-deal conversion rate, at 3.63%.  

Find the right people. Any sales efforts that cling to a single-threaded approach are sure to fall flat eventually. That’s because the days of relying on one individual to move a deal to close are over. With the average buying committee at 6.8, salespeople are better off to work with org charts, mapping the right decision makers and building consensus one-by-one.

Engage with insights. No one wants a hard sell these days, Tian points out. Buyers need to be cajoled with value and insights. Find relevant info in publicly available documents such as 10-Ks, industry trend reports, company press releases and the like. Then contextualize your outreach to the goals of each decision maker. If modern sales pros action these tactics, they’re well on their way to becoming world-class social sellers.  


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