Profitability Killers: 5 Signs Your Sales Team Needs To Refocus

Russ Chadinha

When your sales reps pursue the wrong opportunities, it triggers serious repercussions for the sales organization and the company as a whole, from high rep turnover to limited profitability, lack of growth and customer flight.

If you ask a sales rep, the right opportunities to pursue are big, easy and fast: opportunities with high value, high probability of success and a short time to close.

Unfortunately, these kinds of great opportunities aren’t the rule at most sales organizations. Unless sales and marketing are aligned around a common understanding, many of the leads coming from the marketing department aren’t sufficiently qualified. Lack of data, unqualified leads and poorly planned strategic initiatives around customer acquisition and retention make it difficult for reps to stay on target.

Without the right leads and data-driven tools to guide reps through the sales process, reps are going to struggle to hit the sales plan. You’ll experience higher than usual churn in the sales organization, as frustrated reps leave for other opportunities.

Here are five signs that your sales organization needs help pursuing the right opportunities:

1) “Whale hunting” only: When a massive opportunity (catching a “whale”) excites reps, they often spend lots of time and energy on that one deal. Should the deal fall through, they’re left with nothing in the pipeline. If you’re seeing a lot of this whale hunting behavior in the sales organization, it’s a clear indicator that you’re not pursuing all of the right opportunities.

2) Focusing on the top 20 percent only: The “80/20 rule” suggests that 80 percent of your revenue comes from 20 percent of your customers. Reps like this approach because keeping a select few customers happy is a relatively easy way to make their numbers. This focus could stagnate over time, however. When you’re not interacting with the other 80 percent of your customers, you’re not building that pipeline and building future opportunities.

3) Uneven sales rep performance: Wide variability in sales performance may indicate that some reps are not pursuing the right opportunities.

4) Uneven market share performance: When you’re seeing uneven market share across your segments, such as lower performance in a particular vertical, SMB or partner coverage, that’s a red flag that you’re working on the wrong opportunities.

5) Concerns voiced by sales reps: Sales reps tend to be competitive, logical people, and they’re likely to speak up if they think they’re working on the wrong deals. If reps are doing their job and telling you they’re working on the wrong opportunities, they’re probably right.

The overarching solution to this problem is to improve visibility into the sales process. If you’re not tracking and managing the process, you’re not in control. To focus on the best deals, reps need data-driven insight into the sales process along with qualified leads. Otherwise, they’re relying on gut instinct to choose opportunities to pursue.

That’s why it’s important to arm your reps with data-driven insights, helping them identity product opportunities with customers, flag underperforming products and apply their efforts evenly across customers who should be buying a specific group of products.

When you combine pricing guidance with a configure, price, quote (CPQ) solution, it helps your sales team get the best results when pursuing new opportunities. It also helps to uncover pricing opportunities within your existing base by identifying those customers that are currently paying less than their peers. These insights show reps how to drive conversations at the right price points when working with existing customers.

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