We have known for years that the percentage of salespeople who hit quota is pathetically low. Regardless of what statistics you check, all entities that track and report on it show the quota achievement around or below 50%.

In 2018, CSO Insights reported that 54% of all sales reps met their quota. And for the same year, Forbes stated that 57% missed their quota.

Regardless of which information you believe, the fact remains that quota attainment is low. If given a letter grade, it would equate to an “F.”

What’s causing it to happen?

Are leaders setting quotas too high? Or are salespeople below average overall? Honestly, does it matter? The fact remains that leaders and owners expect salespeople to generate about double what they actually produce.

Since the numbers are troubling, I decided to break it down further in hopes of uncovering why it’s happening and to discover some easily implementable suggestions to help.

We have data on about 600,000 sellers. Here is what I found out:

  • 50% are not able to effectively reach decision-makers
  • 55% do not follow a repeatable sales process
  • 58% need to be liked more than they need to close business
  • 59% do not sell based on value
  • 60% are not comfortable discussing money
  • 69% do not effectively qualify
  • 85% are not consultative sellers
  • 87% are not proficient at negotiating

These figures are somewhat depressing, but at least now we know why so many salespeople are ineffective and don’t meet their sales quotas.

So, how can this be fixed?

There are a couple of simple solutions that could help most of the underachievers. But before I tell you what the fixes are, let me quote a few more eye-popping statistics.

Recently, we mined some data regarding the performance of salespeople having goals and plans to achieve them. I am not talking about sales goals doled out by their bosses. I am talking about personal goals. Goals of what the salespeople want to accomplish, how they want to live, and what they want to have.

Here is what I found. Compared to other salespeople, those with personal goals and plans to achieve them are…

How to use all this info

Facts and figures are one thing. What can be done about them? Here is the five-step plan of attack as a starting place:

  1. Make it a practice to have all your salespeople set personal goals. And, make it a requirement that they have a written plan on how they intend to reach those goals. If you want our recently released Sales Action Planning Playbook, follow the link below.
  1. Once the goals are established, tie them to what the salesperson does every day. It doesn’t matter if they want to buy a boat or donate to charity. Help them determine what they need to generate in new business to help them fund their goals.
  1. Keep in mind that not all goals are financial. However, all goals have some tie to increased financial well-being. Help them see the connection to their daily work and what they want to accomplish.
  1. Imagine if they want to quit working to become a poet. Well, they likely need to generate a certain level of income now to help them be able to do that in the future. Don’t worry what their true goals might be. Help them achieve them through effectiveness in their role.
  1. Hold salespeople accountable to the activities that are necessary to generate enough new opportunities to predict their sales and life goals. Focus on the important KPIs. Which are the items that will produce enough first meetings?
  1. Don’t count random activities. Focus on the ones that matter. And better yet, have them tell you what they are going to do to secure an appropriate number of first meetings to predict success.
  1. Create and implement a repeatable predictive sales process. Ensure everyone is following a plan of attack for each and every call.
  1. Much of what causes salespeople not to achieve quota is that they waste too much time with the wrong prospects. They aren’t qualifying well enough because they aren’t following a process with which to qualify…or disqualify. We have data that suggests a salesperson can increase sales by up to 15% just by following a repeatable sales process.
  1. Discuss and reinforce your company’s true value proposition. This is not a marketing tagline. Rather, it is really the benefits that your customers gain from working with your company.

We know from the statistics above that salespeople are not good at selling value, so let’s help them. Don’t make them think it up on their own. Because we know that if you don’t tell them why customers choose you, they will make it up. And it will be lame and sound like every other competitor out there. This five-step plan will help you fix many of the issues related to sales underachievement. Our recently published Sales Action Planning Playbook is available here and is designed to make it easy for salespeople to establish goals, calculate their increased required income to achieve those goals. and then create an action plan to which they can easily be held accountable.