Times are messy for sales leadership. 2020 has shaken up your market, the way you need to manage your team, and most of all, customer expectations. A drop in revenue could have been a sudden shock or a slow month-by-month decline in your spreadsheets. It's human nature that you want to act fast when you see numbers dropping. Insecure CROs will put more pressure on the sales team to hit their targets or will drastically move budgets around, however, all of them have blindspots they aren’t aware of.
So to answer our question in the title: is your sales team the real reason why sales are dropping? Probably not.
Decreasing revenue isn't a stand-alone process, it's the outcome of many other things that aren’t aligned to the market. It's now up to you to pinpoint the exact cause. But how do you get started? The first step is to listen.
1. Internally: get feedback from your sales team
75% of sales reps will leave their employer because of concerns about the company's ability to meet market needs. This is big. When you see a decline in revenue and an increase in team turnover, then something more is going on. Are you sure that you are offering a solution to the market? If so, are you sure that you've positioned your solution to the market in a way that's clear for your target audience? Find out by getting feedback from your sales team. Don't focus the conversation on their own performance, but ask their feedback on the general direction of the business.
This could be quite an uncomfortable conversation, but an easy way to start the conversation is to ask how effective the current sales training is. Only 17% of companies report that their training is effective. Often this means that your proposition doesn’t match what is going on out there in the market. If your sales team signals the same problem, dig deeper and try to find where the discrepancy between the theoretical sales training and the real-life conversations with prospects.
2. Externally: get feedback from your existing customers
Ask for open, candid customer feedback wherever you can. Open feedback will provide the reason behind the declining numbers in your spreadsheet. Yes, even if you survey your existing customers. Their dissatisfaction has insights into why people aren't coming back or why other people are buying from a competitor instead of you. 95% of customers tell others if they had a bad experience, but ideally, you want them to tell you, not their neighbor.
If your revenue has been on the decline, it might not be such a pleasant experience to read through negative feedback, but at least you know what to fix. But don’t forget, if you reach out and enable customers to voice their opinion, it will also reveal what you are doing well. After being with a company for a while, you might have taken certain things for granted, like the great usability of your online platform or the friendly customer service agent. Customer feedback helps you look at your product with fresh eyes and this could fuel a whole new sales strategy.
3. Get to work
There is gold to be found in the feedback of your existing customers. Taking action on it prevents them from moving to a competitor for their next purchase. Likewise, listen to your sales team. If you don't, you're not only losing out on the market, but you're slowly losing your sales team too. Not effectively finding the root-cause of why sales performance is decreasing is detrimental to your business on multiple levels.
Feedback has tremendous value, whether it’s feedback from your team or your customers. You would be surprised how internal struggles and customer annoyances align. So don’t blame your team but ask for feedback, find the root-cause, and turn the ship around!