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Planning sales targets challenges

sales process planning

Most sales directors will have three questions in mind when planning sales targets and forecasts:

  1. How can I increase revenue?
  2. How can I increase profitability?
  3. How can I achieve the above with the headcount I have?

These statics make for uncomfortable reading:

  • Only 22% of B2B quota carrying sales people will hit their target-sales benchmarking.
  • 90% of CEO’s said their salespeople focused on low payoff activities or called on the wrong people – Think Training, Nightingale Conant and Trainique
  • 86% of CEO’s said their salespeople had negative thinking or self talk that was damaging their sales efforts – Think Training, Nightingale Conant and Trainique
  • 60% of committed business leads to no decision – Corporate Visions
  • 87% of the impact of the effect of sales training dissipates and dies after 3 months – Huthwaite Int

Obviously the above statistics will have a huge detrimental affect on sales force capability to increase revenue and profitability.

What is the problem and what are the answers?

The contention is there is a knowing v doing gap. By and large most sales people are well trained in sales skills, process and methodology. They should be well informed on product and service sets and competitive advantage. Therefore knowledge and skills are not the issue. So what is? – I will extend the contention to pose that there are 5 generic challenges that anybody in sales faces.

Prospecting Challenge: Not enough time is spent effectively prospecting

Conversation Challenge: The breadth and depth of customer conversation is not happening or at the right level. There is a propensity to open up the laptop ‘show up and throw up’ about how great we are.

Qualification Challenge: Deals are not qualified hard enough leading to unrealistic and inflated sales forecasts.

Adversity Challenge: Setbacks result in reverting to comfort zones and displacement activities.

Confidence Challenge: Don’t be fooled by macho, egotistical outward show, this can belie an inward self-doubt and lack of confidence that manifests itself in the other four generic challenges.

The answer is all about mindset, the development of mental toughness of sales teams in the following areas:

Focus: Treat sales as a process and focus on the key activities that will afford success the greatest chance of happening as a natural output of the work put in.

Resilience: Being able to lean into the inevitable setbacks and mistakes that will happen. Not over personalise them but learn, and apply the learning’s from them.

Motivation: Learn what really drives us outside money. (Purpose, Autonomy and Mastery) Develop a personal value set that drives ones own behaviour when the going gets tough.

Self Confidence: Recognise the difference between self confidence and self delusion! Competency based self confidence can be developed by self-awareness of what the component parts are:

  • Have faith in a best practice sales process
  • Own your own learning of the skills and knowledge need to execute the process.
  • Practice them!
  • Develop a growth mindset
  • Understand how ‘learned optimism’ can be an objective explanatory way to deal with the inevitable set backs (don’t take them to personally, don’t feel the setback is permanent, don’t let it pervade into other areas of your life).

Empathy: A much muted but under-utilised personal trait. Suspending judgement and prejudice – the ability to understand somebody – else perspective without necessarily agreeing with it.

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