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  • Writer's pictureNick Klingensmith

When Sales Reps fail: It’s not them, it’s YOU.

Updated: Feb 11, 2020

People, Process & Predictable Results

2019 is coming to a close and like most sales leaders, you’re reviewing the numbers and proposing changes for 2020. You’re trying hard not to react, but you can’t take your eyes off the numbers in red and prepare to cut the lowest performers. Why not? It’s an easy and obvious target and as a sales leader, it’s on you to deliver results. It’s also the quickest means of ignoring your real issues and ensuring you’ll be in the same spot a year later – or worse.

Are 80% of your reps consistently achieving their goal 80% of the time? If not, the question isn’t why your reps are coming up short. The question is: Why are YOU coming up short?


Perhaps you decide to make a change in leadership. Sometimes a change is necessary, but what is the new persons plans for righting the ship? Do they know your existing playbook? Are they going to write new plays, make the old ones better, or just run faster in the red zone and blame the players if it doesn’t work out?

Your people can only be as effective as your process allows them to be.


An effective sales process needs to be Accountable, Repeatable, Measurable and Scalable (ARMS). Many (many haters, that is) say that Tom Brady wouldn’t be as good if he were part of a different team and that another QB would do just as well on the Patriots. Maybe, maybe not.

But the Patriots Dynasty is not built upon one player. Each championship has a roster of many different faces. A good system can “plug and play” different talent and still expect consistent results. Here’s the bonus: a good system tends to attract top talent while a steady stream of failed superstars tends to scare them away.

What is your definition of a prospect? If you don’t have one, just stop right here. Your sales goals, process and activity are already out of alignment. How long can you safely drive your car like that? Simply driving faster won’t fix it.

Take your last best deal.

Ask the rep to detail the process. Now ask their sales manager. Do they tell the same story? If you asked the customer, would they also explain their journey in the same way?

Not every day can be a broken red zone play that results in a touchdown. It may be exciting to watch, but it’s not repeatable. Success should never be a surprise.


How do you measure the effectiveness of your sales process? Measuring only the outcomes is like driving without a gas gauge and crossing your fingers that you make it to your destination in time. An effective process provides for efficient results.

Metrics that are specific to your business help you realize success or recognize an area in need of improvement.

Low hanging fruit is often the most dangerous and yields the lowest results. This rings exponentially true when making tough decisions as a sales leader. If you want to make lasting and impactful changes to further your sales organization, avoid the low hanging fruit, roll up your sleeves and focus on the root cause.

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