Sales Effectiveness
5 min reading

Difficult sales targets? 7 reasons and solutions

Louise Tempelgof
Published on
difficulties in achieving business objectives problems and solutions

For the past few days, a statistic has been shaking up the sales world. Have you seen it?

If you haven't read the latest report published by Salesforce, here's a quick (and terrifying) teaser: 87% of salespeople expect not to reach their quota in 2023.

That's a huge and, let's face it, frustrating statistic.


Well, first of all, because missing your targets isn't pleasant for anyone. 

Secondly, because low commissions are never fun either.

So we've put together a non-exhaustive list of the problems salespeople face, and the reasons why they might not achieve their goals. But above all, how to overcome them.

Ready to make the Q4 counters explode? Here we go. 🚀

1. Product-focused training

One of the most common mistakes is to focus solely on the product when onboarding new recruits and during ongoing training.

Even today, far too many deals go unnoticed by salespeople, who have a product-centric approach rather than a customer-centric one.

Obviously, we have to learn the company's processes, such as the sales process, how to submit quotations and all the rest.

#Sell the benefits of your prospects

To succeed, you need to know more about your customers, their problems and their challenges. The aim is to become a truly trusted partner for them.

The idea here is to develop messages that resonate with our potential customers. Above all, don't focus on yourself, your product, your company and your service. 

Make sure you speak their language, understanding the metrics and KPIS that really matter to them. Understand the business impact of the issues or challenges you address.

In short, we don't pitch a product because we don't care about the means. You pitch the result

It's all about the bottom line, so that prospects see the value of what you're selling right from the start.

The result: fewer refusals, higher response rates, more closed customers!

2. A lack of coaching

Still, according to the Salesforce State of Sales Report 2023, only 26% of B2B salespeople receive regular coaching, i.e. individual coaching at least once a week. 

And these 26% are mainly top performers.

Coincidence? No, it's just that hard work pays off.

So, solid onboarding and sales enablement processes/tools are necessary but not sufficient. 

#More regular and personalized coaching

At the same time, it's important to continue this regular reinforcement work to help your sales reps achieve their objectives.

Think of your sales people as athletes who achieve daily performance targets (quotas) and aim to exceed them. 

They have to train. And that means regular coaching. In this case, team and one-to-one coaching. If you'd like to find out more, take a look at this article, and use the template for a successful one-to-one. Not to be missed.

3. Poorly managed time allocation

Salespeople spend only 28% of their time selling: prospecting, organizing meetings with customers, preparing proposals, etc. 

72% of their working time is actually spent on other activities: updating the CRM, internal training, forecasting meetings...

So how can they achieve their goals under these conditions?

#Adopt an 80/20 time management system to set priorities.

The solution: we owe it to Pareto.

Pareto's law states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your activities.

How can they apply this law in their daily lives?

⏱️ Time inventory

For a whole week, they take note of how they use their time.

They can use a stopwatch, fill in a spreadsheet and categorize activities.

The aim is to create transparency and awareness of time management.

Spoiler alert: note-taking is the star of this inventory. 

As we all know, this is one of the biggest challenges facing sales managers: guiding teams to take notes as efficiently as possible during meetings, and thus simplifying the process of recording information in the CRM.

The Modjo extension was developed to meet this challenge. It's the equivalent of note-taking, but a hundred times better, because it saves your teams time, allowing them to devote more time to what really counts: your customers. A true personal assistant for every member of your team. To find out more, click here.

✂️ Separation of activities

They decide which activities have a direct impact on revenues, and which do not.

Create a table with two columns: income-generating activities and non-income-generating activities. 

📆 Time blocking

Now it's time to plan for the following week.

Set aside enough time for income-generating activities.

It's recommended to aim for 50% (~20 hours) per week, or more if they can.

🎨 Color code

The idea is to use different colors to mark income-generating and non-income-generating activities in their schedules.

This will give them a clearer picture of how their time is allocated, and enable them to budget effectively.

Finally, bear in mind that time management is a constant process. There will always be disruptive elements seeking to capture their attention. However, by following this approach based on Pareto's Law, you can help them maximize their efficiency and focus their time on activities that have the greatest impact on results.

4. No response to their cold-calls

Times are tough. It's hard to book meetings, it's hard to get answers. 

Their prospect pipeline may be thin, and so are the commissions they generate. 

This can lead to a feeling of hopelessness, causing salespeople to cling on as best they can to current business. Unfortunately, this desperate attitude is also felt by prospects, which can jeopardize their chances of success. 

So how do you keep from hitting the wall (or being alone on the swing like Pablo)?

#Consistency (not our Account Executive... though...)

The solution to this challenge lies in setting up a solid prospecting system. 

We leave you in the hands of our Full Cycle Account Executive, Constance, for just a minute. An expert in prospecting, she offers you her invaluable advice on our LinkedIn page every week. Don't hesitate to subscribe!

The year 2023 also sees the emergence of technological tools such as GPT chat and other artificial intelligence solutions. Take advantage of these technologies to improve your prospecting efficiency.

5. Drowning in objections

"I'm not the right person to talk to."
"We don't have the budget, call back in 6 months."
"Send me an e-mail."

These are very common objections that we've all heard from our prospects, whether on the phone or by e-mail. Faced with this kind of response, human nature often tends to simply stop, to avoid conflict.

However, in sales, it's essential to overcome this natural tendency and convert objections into opportunities, isn't it?

#Turnobjections into opportunities.

You have to think of the conversation with the prospect as an onion.

Yes, yes, an onion that we would pilgrim. 

The prospect objects. Let's see how to respond.

"No worries if you're not interested, can you help me understand? Is it because you already have a provider in place or because you're not the best person to talk about it?"

Here's what I do: I take this objection, make two assumptions and give the prospect the choice of telling me what they are.

If the prospect replies "we already have a supplier", the idea is to find out whether he's 100% satisfied, and to highlight any potential drawbacks to the existing solution.

"It's going very well, we're very happy because..., however it happens that...".

In this way, you peel more and more of the onion. Layer by layer. Question by question.

At some point, you find the little imperfections. We find these loaves of bread that may reveal larger problems.

In this way, starting from an objection, rather than an interest, we move into a discovery mode.

6. Difficulty creating the urgency for prospects to make decisions

This is an important point, typically during the discovery phase, when it can be difficult to access the decision-maker, the prospect starts to make a rejection after the demo.

Sales cycles can be very long. Some potential customers even say they won't make a decision this year.

 "We have other projects that are a priority". 

All these elements indicate that the prospect perceives the salesperson and his product as an asset rather than a necessity.

So there's a chance, of course, that we can try again in six months' time, but we don't have that much time, do we?

We have quotas to fill.

#Focus on the cost of inaction.

In other words, quantify the gap between the prospect's current state and its future state. 

The idea is to take stock: 

  • status quo: bread, challenges, technical problems, wasted time, bad data...
  • future state: technical solutions, smoother processes, automation, productivity, quality...

And if we do it right, we can put a figure on that gap. The gap is in fact the cost of taking action, the opportunity cost of the prospect who doesn't make a decision on the problem that's been established.

The aim is to show the customer how much it's costing him every week, every month, every year, because he's not making a decision.

And in times of recession, it's the only way to close deals.

They won't be your prices or discounts.

It's the driving force, the cost of doing business, and the only way to get the CFO to sign deals.

7. Unidentified value

Prospects don't see the value of the product/service.

They compare apples with apples and choose the cheapest, you see?

The problem is huge, because it's a race to the bottom.

You're simply competing on price, and your potential customers see you as a commodity.

#Sell value.

Salespeople must therefore demonstrate the technical value of their product with a demo. It's the only way to stand out from the competition. 

Present a solid business case and ROI to obtain the CFO's approval.

And themain characterin all this is the salesman. And above all, his business acumen. His ability to understand prospects' challenges, propose tailor-made solutions, and build a vision of a better future for them. 

Here, it's not your solution they're buying. It's your salesman.

It's time to put these tips into practice for a successful end to the year. 🚀

Louise Tempelgof
Sales Content Expert
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