Dealbreakers: The 7 biggest threats to sales team effectiveness

The effectiveness of your sales team has a direct impact on the overall success of your organization.

Unfortunately, sales effectiveness seems to be heading in the wrong direction. According to a 2016 CSO Insights study on sales performance optimization, the percentage of salespeople making quota stood at 57.1% in 2015, down from 63% in 2012. Moreover, just 30% of businesses reported sales teams where 75% or more of their salespeople were meeting quota.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the top seven elements that damage sales team effectiveness, as well as sales enablement strategies so that you can take action and improve your win rates.

1. No Formal Coaching

One of the biggest obstacles to sales team effectiveness is a lack of formal coaching. CSO Insights’ 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study found that only 27% of businesses have a formal sales coaching process. [Tweet this!]

This is problematic, because coaching is where new information is reinforced so that it is put into action. Indeed, that same study found that a dynamic coaching process can improve win rates by up to 28%.

2. No Sales Management Training

Similarly, the presence of sales management training was also identified by CSO Insights as a factor in sales team effectiveness. Sales managers have a profound impact on productivity, execution, and sales development, and an investment in management training has been found to boost revenue attainment by more than 18%. [Tweet this!]

Despite this, frontline sales managers remain neglected, and organizations that don’t provide manager training are twice as common as those that fail to train ordinary salespeople.

3. Unskilled Salespeople

While much can be achieved through the implementation of high-level training and coaching programs, it is important to acknowledge that not everyone can be taught to sell. In fact, according to research from Caliper Corporation, 55% of salespeople have no ability to sell and are often lacking in empathy and/or resilience.

Related: “Empathy is a superpower in marketing and sales”: A Q&A with Brian Carroll of Markempa

For this reason, you need to develop a hiring strategy which helps to quickly and accurately identify whether or not a candidate has the necessary mindset and traits for the job, regardless of previous experience.

4. An Uncomfortable Workplace

A poorly designed workplace can severely hinder productivity, morale, and motivation, and this includes everything from the overall layout of the sales floor, to the chairs you have sales staff sitting on.

In particular, when it comes to sales, a certain level of sound privacy is essential for maximizing effectiveness. Uncomfortable working spaces, a lack of natural light, and excessive noise have also all been associated with increased staff turnover, meaning investment in training and coaching could potentially be wasted.


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5. Lack of Customer Journey Alignment

In their 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, CSO Insights also established the importance of sales alignment, with customer journey alignment boosting win rates by up to 15%. This is further backed up by the Sales Benchmark Index, which reports that such alignment increases the lifetime value of a customer by 26%.

Nevertheless, approximately 44% of organizations do not actively align their sales processes to their customers’ journey, hurting their own sales performance as a consequence.

6. Poor Staff Relationships

Another element that can significantly hinder sales team effectiveness is a poor relationship between sales reps and their line managers. This can negatively impact motivation, reduce productivity, and make sales reps less likely to respond positively to any sales coaching they are offered.

Additionally, poor workplace relationships are a major cause of stress, illness, absenteeism, and staff turnover. [Tweet this!]

7. Unhelpful Sales Content

Finally, the quality of the content your business puts out can have a major impact on social selling effectiveness. Indeed, CSO Insights’ Sales Enablement Optimization Study found that while quality content can improve win rates by as much as 6%, content with quality gaps can decrease win rates by up to 9%.

The expression “content is king” exists for a reason and it is paramount that you take the time to create and share high-quality, genuinely useful, and unique content with your target audience.


Research shows that well over a third of all salespeople are currently under-performing, and while some lack the necessary skills, others have their effectiveness limited by poor business practices. In particular, companies need to pay attention to training, coaching, and customer journey alignment.

Author Bio:

Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specializes in providing exceptional sales training and helps organizations develop business strategies to increase sales effectiveness. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership training.


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