The New Rules for Q2 Sales Success

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Thu, Apr 14, 2016

The numbers are in....

I've been roaming the sales cubicles of lots of companies most of last week and this.  Probably 20 plus companies in 10 work days. Opening doors into the heads of heavy-hitter sales leaders along with young, hard working BDRs. Asking the tough questions of hard-charging, get-out-of-my-way 35 year olds and also to a few 55 year old trail-beaten veterans who still hang on to "the old days" of relationship selling.  

Pathways-1.pngBefore I go on here, no one has to tell me about how hard the job of selling is.  I know that and have had the privilege of both being a player, a manager and now a coach of "The Toughest Job" in any company.  I already know that, plus I also know that it can be the most rewarding job in terms of personal fulfillment way beyond the commission.  I also know, at this stage of my life, that adherence to Sales Basics, especially in an enhanced world of process, tools, technologies and metrics, is the secret to sales success and happiness. 

On a 20 company plus sampling, here's what I'm hearing over the past 10 days...


  1. The economy is not much of an issue...except for those companies in oil and gas
  2. I did not hear much about product issues- existing problems or waiting for "the newest"
  3. I heard "the normal issues" with competition-nothing unknown or unexpected
  4. Increasing the productivity of the front line sales warriors is "The #1 Issue" for CEOs & CROs
  5. Recruiting, hiring and onboarding remain "The #2 Issue" in the sales/quota performance ratio
  6. Marketing is still not giving salespeople what they need or when they need it in leads or in content

What I also heard were lots of excuses.

In fact the same excuses I used to give back in the day, and have heard for 30 years of managing salespeople from raw rookies to experienced, battle-hardened warriors.

  • "..but, it's going to come in in the next couple of weeks"
  • "...but, not to worry, it's still our order"
  • "...but, they had a last minute change in.. (fill in the blank)"
  • "...I'm just not getting enough leads"
  • "...I didn't know what my new territory was going to be until ..." (fill in the blank)
  • "...we've had a lot of changes since..." (fill in the blank)

excuses_2.jpgWhen a heavily experienced Regional VP gave me the excuse last week of "it's going to come in in the next couple of weeks", (but since we were in a public setting in the midst of 100 cubicles, and I could not put my hands around his neck), I responded "Will it come in by the board meeting in two weeks?", to which his counter response was "Yes, maybe by then?".  Last I looked, the word, "maybe", is right next to "hoping" in the untrained salesperson vocabulary.  Not very assuring!

I've been in the sales and marketing game for decades as a street guy, a headset phone reseller, a distributer of commodity products and as a regional sales manager, and as a CEO of multiple companies of complex tech and industrial products, and I've developed a highly technical term about sales management...

"Don't bull**** a bull*******"

I've both said just about everything that can be said about sales and sales excuses, and whatever I haven't said, I've heard from other sales managers that I highly respect in this wonderful profession of sales.  The bottom line is that the failure point in the vast majority of cases of missed orders and failure to get to quota most always happens as a result of either the lack of experienced coaching from the front line sales manager or as a result of the salesperson's inability to follow a process and a toolset that they had already been trained in and agreed to follow.

Let's take an example...

I talked to 100 plus salespeople over the last 10 days.  The #1 reason given for a failure to meet quota was that the process for one or two large orders was "slowed down", "just delayed" or "hung up in either legal or purchasing".   As I quickly sifted through questions and answers about those delays, in all but one case, the salesperson admitted/half-admitted that they could have done a lot better job both in their initial Discovery Step and in continuing to do "Mini Discovery Checkins" after the initial Discovery.  

A perfect example that I heard is that one very big order fell out simply because the key decision maker "went on vacation."  The reality of this is that vacations are typically planned long into the future, and the salesperson agreed that this delay could have been avoided if only she had asked that vacation question up front, which, it turns out was actually on her "Discovery Checklist" as part of her CRM dropdown menu.

Quota Improvement Corrections That You Could Make Today

Discovery_Embed-1.pngEvery Sales Professional already has a Discovery Step either informally or formally.  
  • First, make Discovery a formal process today, not tomorrow.  It's time to play in the big leagues, which is all about discipline, formality, game plans and constant training exactly the same way every Red Sox player has prepared themselves for this winning season.  
  • Second, be transparent about your process and let your prospect know that you are going through a checklist.  I will guarantee you that the prospect will appreciate that (1) you're efficient and not wasting his or her time, and (2) you will remember what they told you about their needs and internal processes, and you will not embarrass yourself later in the process. You can even make a joke about the process and the checklist itself, but don't screw up by not asking both BANT and GPCT questions.
  • Third, in 100% of the work lives of your prospects, they already live in a world of process, so don't worry about appearing "less than", which is the constant, immature, lazy excuse I always hear when it comes to the reason some salespeople don't use formal checklists or conduct thorough Discovery.

When you analyze the data, do the math, and then take a look at the results from 100 feet off the deck, the reasons for not getting to quota are in some priority ordering of the following four reason...and #1 does not apply in this case.  After you've thought about this as it relates to your own sales or your own management of your sales team, a recommendation would be that you should objectively scour your own pipeline data for the past two quarters, analyze what your trends are showing and put an immediate personal corrective action plan into place that responds to those failure points in your current sales process.  Even if you're at 100% of your Q1 quota, you can always be better!

  1. Issues (Largely Out of Your Control)
    • A decision not to buy from anyone
    • Outside major economic or regulatory problems
  2. Sales Process & Tools-(Totally in Your Control)
    • Stalled decision making
    • Inadequate "Discovery" of both the considered and the unconsidered needs
    • Inability to convey Customer Value / Inability to deliver an effective Value Proposition 
    • Inability to follow a sales process and use pre-defined sales and marketing tools
    • Inadequate manager coaching on the court while you were actually playing the game.
  3. F2F Time- (Totally in Your Control)
    • Most of us are very efficient in doing conference sales calls and using online presentation and sales productivity tools like my two favorites:  Brainshark and GTM..  Having said that, my experience last week showed that 25% of the misses/delays/losses would "most probably" not have occurred if there had been at least one F2F meeting.  In one example, a $75K deal was delayed ("don't worry, it's still our order") because there was never a F2F with a prospect in NJ from a sales rep housed in a company headquartered in downtown Boston.  The assessment was that the prospect had said that there was no need for a F2F, which to me translated as "I'm not ready to buy from you."  Bottom line: It was a forecasted order to close by the end of March, and it didn't close.  At the very least, if there had been a F2F, the rep would be much better armed today to know what he should now be doing...other than waiting.

      In Q2, the most critical quarter of the year in terms of pipeline depth and authenticity, you should be planning to be on the road at least once every week.  Too much?  Ok, then 9 visits in 12 weeks!  That could be one visit or five, but let's try to make F2F meetings work as one of our productivity improvements in this quarter and then measure the results  
  4. Math Issues- (Totally in Your Control)
    • Inability to identify and create the required number of new accounts to meet quota
    • Insufficient number of MQLs or SQLs to make the Opportunity Funnel work


business_plans-1.pngAlso, since you've now completed Q1, you just may want to put aside a day during the next two weeks to refine and update your 2016 Business Plan, or at least your 2016 Sales and Marketing Plans.  To get you started, click here and receive a downloaded copy of our Writing the Winning Business Plan, 2016 edition.

Another opportunity for kicking off the quarter in the right spirit is to do the same type of "relook" at the basics of your 2016 Marketing Plan after reviewing our ebook on "How to Write a Marketing Plan". This consists of mostly solid basics and tactical structure stuff...which just might be the perfect thing to do right now before you dive too deeply into Q2. 

...and, of course, if you just want to talk through some of where you are right now and use us as a confidential sounding board...or do a short Whiteboarding Session with any of us, just email me, and we will work out a convenient schedule.

Good Selling!


  Jack Derby 


 Head Coach  

 Derby Management...for 25 years
 -Sales & Marketing Productivity Experts
 -Business & Strategy Planning Specialists
 -Senior Management Coaches for CEOs & VPs

 Box 171322, Boston, MA 02117
 Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222 

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Tags: sales, sales coach, sales tools, sales plans, sales process