Why Most Sales Reps Are Missing Goals


Why are so many reps missing their sales goals? It’s a question that plagues sales leadership and causes them to lose sleep at night. After all, if your reps are missing their targets, it means your company is losing out on revenue.

So what’s behind this trend? A closer look at the data reveals a few key reasons as to why so many sales reps are falling short. 

First, sales goals are not rational. In fact, they are completely irrational, and because we are humans, we “run the numbers” and then create a hypothesis. We then try to claim they are rational numbers based on the information we have at the moment. The may seem rational, but in reality, its just blanked of rational desires wrapped around an imperfect and irrational hypothesis. 

Second, because of the irrational argument, goals are often set too high. Sales leaders are under pressure to hit lofty numbers, so they set unrealistic goals for their reps. As a result, reps get frustrated and give up when they can’t hit these unrealistic targets. For several years, valuations of start-ups and publicly traded companies have skyrocketed. This means so are the expectations and therefore the goals are set higher than what they should be

And no, throwing more bodies at the problem will not be the only solution.

Third, there’s often a disconnect between what the sales rep is selling without understanding the customer’s core pains. This is much deeper than understanding your prospects’ and customers’ needs. Stop focusing on “what you do” and find out what your customers’ headaches and migraines are.

As a result, customers aren’t getting relief for their migraine, they feel like all you are offering is Barney the Dinosaur band-aid for their boo-boo because you (and they) don’t even know what the migraine is.  And yet you ask, “Why do so many sales reps miss their sales targets?”

Finally, it’s pretty simple. Most leaders, in just about every position, not just sales leaders, simply suck at interviewing. Don’t pretend you are immune to this disease. Nobody teaches people how to interview, period. If you work at a company that does, well played, well played indeed. Interviwing is actually the tip-top of the sales funnel. If you aren’t working to improve this, then you are already behind in the game. 

Look, there could be any number of reasons sales reps don’t hit their targets – the economy, changes in the marketplace, unrealistic expectations from management – but the fact remains that sales reps are falling short, and it costs businesses millions of dollars every year. 

We believe it starts internally at what we are doing wrong, not simply taking data points and blaming everyone outside the decision-making circle. If your reps are missing sales goals and you need help to determine what’s next, contact us here or check out our sales management training and coaching program.

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