Sales POP - Purveyors of Propserity
If 46% of Sales Reps Don’t Reach Quota, What Are the 54% Doing Right?
Blog / For Sales Pros / Mar 30, 2015 / Posted by Peter Gracey / 6232

If 46% of Sales Reps Don’t Reach Quota, What Are the 54% Doing Right?

Editor’s Note: Our guest contribution today is by Peter Gracey, CEO of QuotaFactory, AG Salesworks’ sister company. We are excited about QuotaFactory’s focus on sales accelerationtechniques.


Can a film be seen without any understanding of its context? Yes — but that context will significantly change your impression of the story.

For example, knowing that George Lucas borrowed film styles and entire scenes from Akira Kurosawa’s great samurai films for Star Wars gives us insights into the director’s penchant for drama, the film franchise’s visual and stylistic influences, and the historical implications of Hollywood’s authority at the time. Stripped of this context, Star Wars is still a great story, but we learn a lot more with that background knowledge.

The fact of the matter is, sales operates in the same way. Can you sell without context? Sure. Will your sales cycle accelerate with an understanding of what really spurs your ideal customers, prospects and leads to buy? You bet.

Sales context departs from the traditional BANT qualification and instead focuses on the customer’s story. Did you know that only 54% of sales reps are reaching quota currently according to SiriusDecisions? Sales context can help. Sales context is the background information you need to close the deal. It’s the business pains, trigger news, current process problems or advantages, and compelling events that will propel your ideal customer to the next step. Collecting Sales Context is a proven method to increase conversions to forecast by 60%.

However, how can you train your sales development team to teleprofile for this information? What are some indicators that a prospect is ready to say more about their situation?

Let’s look at some strategies you can implement now to help your sales teams uncover Sales Context in their prospecting conversations.

Find each contact’s story for current business pains

The approach to uncovering Sales Context is inherently human-centered, designed to take place well before discussing your solution. When your sales reps are teleprofiling for Sales Context, it’s not about selling; it’s about understanding. Encourage them to focus not on their own solution or even its benefits, but instead on the contact’s current situation, unveiling their story bit by bit.

Let’s pretend you’re selling marketing automation software. Start your conversation with the CMO, Marketing Director, or even Marketing Coordinator about how much they love their current process. When they’re talking about the features they enjoy using, they’re easing into a conversation with you; starting on a positive rather than a negative light will frame your discussion accordingly. When you see an opportunity, ask them, “OK, now what do you wish could change?” Touch on what they can’t do now, what they want to do, and what they dream about doing. Find out what marketing task they spend the most of their time on — automating emails? creating lists? — and ask if streamlining that task would make their life easier.

Your sales rep may also encounter someone who is happy with their current process, though these contacts are few and far between. Someone may say they don’t have a challenge or a business pain, but phrasing the question without these buzzwords may help them open up. Even if they are completely happy, this is still Sales Context, and your reps can gain necessary sales intelligence — what do you like about it? why do you like it? — from a conversation with that contact.

Research through the right channels for trigger news

The process of uncovering Sales Context includes a lot of research through different channels. This research can uncover valuable information such as a new company IPO, a new promotion for the contact you’re calling, or a company location change that can be leveraged in your sales rep’s calls.

Training your reps to be resourceful includes finding the right sites to research and crafting the right messages to send. The two sites where your reps will find the most information are LinkedIn and the company’s website. On LinkedIn, encourage your reps to follow the company’s profile page and if you see something that is relevant and noteworthy then send your contact at that company a short message highlighting the content. That would be a great way to facilitate a business conversation. On the company website, you can often find a News page with recent PR events or a company blog that you can mention in your interactions.

There are also a few other strategies for finding information about the company you’re teleprofiling for Sales Context. If you’re focusing on venture-backed start-ups, you can navigate over to Crunchbase to see annual revenue, location, and other interesting facts. If you’re looking to see if a certain company has talked about a certain topic in the past, you can Google topic and Google will only give you results from that company’s webpage with that keyword.  Here’s an example using QuotaFactory.

Remember: You’re not selling yet!

This may be the most important tip of all. Too many sales development teams are trained to sell now and obtain Sales Context later — or worse, never. However, when you’re uncovering Sales Context, you should barely talk about your own solution. Have a short “What We Do” statement prepared, but beyond that, focus only on the prospect and his or her environment.

Instead of yammering on about your product or service, listen. To help guide the conversation, have a list of open-ended probing questions in front of you, but only refer to it when the conversation seems to be waning. If you notice that you’re talking the majority of the call, STOP, and instead start asking meaningful questions that will help you determine if a prospect is a good fit for your product or service. The trick is working these qualification questions into the conversation without sounding like you’re taking a survey. Your sales development team can train on this particular skill in role plays and by analyzing their own recorded calls.

With Sales Context, your sales development reps will be more equipped to work faster through their accounts and ultimately reach quota. Currently, 54% of sales reps don’t reach quota. Let’s change that!

Also, please join us at our blog Sales Wars, inspired by — you guessed it — George Lucas and Akira Kurosawa!

Featured illustration: inari123

About Author

Peter Gracey is the CEO of QuotaFactory. His responsible are the day-to-day operations of QuotaFactory, company growth, success, and helping clients reach their sales quota. He is also a professor at UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management, and advocating for fair treatment of salespeople.

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