Why Leaders in Sales Fail – And What to Do About It

October 21, 2019

Many organizations lack the investment in adequate training that leaders in sales need to be successful. An outsourced VP of Sales can create the turnaround that gets sales back on their feet.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 11/5/18 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehension.

Salespeople are burning out faster than ever.

According to Forbes, it’s because they don’t have coaches and mentors to facilitate long-term success. 

Additionally, many salespeople don’t have adequate tools and resources to fulfill their job responsibilities. 

Their current leaders in sales once experienced the same pain years before the new hires ever did, so the cycle just continues. 

Why sales failures repeat

When things are going smoothly and the sales department is meeting its numbers, the organization’s leaders forget about the department and take advantage of the success it creates for the company. 

It’s only when things go wrong and there’s a sales failure – the numbers are less than expected, for example – that the organizational leaders remember that the sales department exists. 

With a glaring look and pointing finger, they blame the leader in sales for the company’s lack of performance. 

Sales departments are often overlooked as a primary business discipline and are only thought about when things go wrong. 

Why are sales – something vital to the existence of any firm – a secondary thought for so many organizations?

The problem all leaders in sales face

Perhaps it starts with the education many of us first receive at business school. 

Our days are filled with less stress, not as much sleep, and more fun – never focused on sales classes. 

All the other main functions of business are taught – from marketing to business data analytics and even tourism management – but not sales! 

If salespeople never have any formal training implemented from the beginning, where do professionals go to learn more about best sales practices? 

Simple: their sales leaders

With fresh eyes and a will to learn, many novice salespeople gain their leadership skills and practices from their own bosses. 

This isn’t the problem. 

The issue is the lack of training and development given to the initial leaders in sales from the organization. 

Little thought is given to that person’s ability to perform and execute the duties of the job. 

It’s likely the organization is simply relieved to fill the role. Yet it’s not the organization’s fault because no one understands sales enough to create a meaningful training program in the first place. 

No one has ever understood sales the way we understand the law of gravity or how to analyze a simple balance sheet in accounting.

The sales success solution

With all the new resources coming into play, like CRM software and endless data analytics, sales is gaining importance in the eyes of organizations, which means companies need a reliable sales leader. 

The solution if you don’t currently have one? Use a fractional or outsourced VP of sales. 

Sales has not been one of the departments that organizations are applying the outsourcing model to, although its implementation has been successful elsewhere in companies. 

It can be challenging to embrace the idea that a highly-qualified sales leader working part-time can accomplish more than an inexperienced one. 

The bottom line

As leading sales professionals, we’re repeatedly taught how to execute sales functions, increase growth and focus on the numbers. 

But, we’re never quite set up for success, even with all that insightful sales experience. You need more than your advanced experience and sharp intuition to be successful. 

Bring in a seasoned leader in sales to do an organizational assessment and allow them to act as a VP of Sales until you’re at a place where you can hire your own.