Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

6 Reasons Your Sales Team Is Underperforming

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Businesses rely on their sales teams to bring in new customers, survive and grow. Yet, even with the most talented professionals in place, leaders often find that at least one team member isn't bringing in results. While every salesperson will have slow months, when a team's sales figures are low month after month, it's time to do some investigating.


If your business is dealing with disappointing sales figures, there are a few things you can do to improve team performance. By looking at these six common mistakes, you may be able to identify things you can do to motivate your employees and get better results.

1. They lack people skills.

It may seem absurd that someone would seek out a career in sales with no people skills, let alone be hired into a job doing it, but it happens every day. Even sales professionals with training and experience sometimes simply lack the charisma necessary to win customers. Sometimes pairing these team members with those with natural ability can help, but it's important to quickly identify team members who may be offending potential clients rather than attracting them. One bad employee can do serious damage to your company's reputation.

Related: 3 Steps to Aligning Sales Teams and Maximizing Results

2. They're technologically challenged.

Sales ability doesn't necessarily go hand-in-hand with tech skills. Unfortunately, today's teams are asked to use fairly sophisticated software to cultivate and identify leads, as well as manage customers. It's important that businesses invest in training for major platforms such as Salesforce and Zoho CRM. Even new employees who have used these tools before may need training specific to your own business's expectations, since they can differ from one organization to the next. If the products you're selling involve technology, employees should receive thorough training on that as well.

Related: 3 Tips to Make Sure Your Tech Investments for Your Sales Team Aren't a Waste of Money

3. Lack of follow-up.

The one-call close is more myth than reality. In fact, studies show the average successful sales person visits a prospect 4.4 times and has a close rate of 17 percent. As you set goals and standards for your teams, keep this in mind. When you require that your team members visit a certain number of new prospects each month, you may be discouraging them from spending time doing the follow-up visits that lead to actual deals.

4. Taking the wrong approach.

One of the biggest mistakes sales professionals make is in focusing on what they're selling rather than what their client will gain from buying that product. Experts say the best salespeople are problem solvers. They approach each sale by determining a prospect's pain points and stating specifically how their product will solve those problems. When a sales professional makes a pitch 100 percent about the customer's needs, that customer is far more likely to respond. Businesses can make this easier for everyone on their sales team by finding general pain points that their products resolve, rather then letting each salesperson customize every pitch to fit an individual client's problems.

5. Poor product performance.

Your sales team may not be directly involved in creating and distributing your products, but the process can still have a direct impact on your sales. Over time, salespeople can easily grow frustrated with the calls they're getting from customers they brought in. If the product they sold is defective or the customer service team does a poor job of handling complaints, your sales team's morale will drop, especially if they're getting chargebacks for cancellations and refunds. Invest in product development, as well as your customer service efforts, and you'll likely find that your team performance improves, since they're selling a product they believe in.

Related: Here Is the Equation for Increasing Your Sales Team's Success

6. Insufficient leads.

Some businesses assume that good salespeople source their own leads. While this is true, tools are now available that will help them by pulling in high-quality leads from a variety of sources. These tools don't just bring in a list of names and addresses, but they also verify each of those leads and provide those that fit a certain profile. Businesses should also be sure they're capturing leads through their websites and quickly expediting those to sales team members so that they can take action.

Big sales numbers come from a combination of talented sales professionals and supportive businesses. When leaders invest in making it easier for team members to do their jobs, more leads turn into paying customers and a business gains the cash flow it needs to grow.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks