Why Most Sales Teams Fail

Nigel Green
3 min readOct 28, 2020


How to Avoid These Common Mistakes

57% of most sales teams don’t hit their sales targets according to Forbes. One of every two teams will fail. This is the leading reason why the average tenure of a sales leader (Chief Sales Officer, VP of Sales, Director or Manager) is less than three years. Executive teams, boards of directors and private equity investors expect immediate results, and success starts with effective sales planning.

Most sales leaders would argue that they have a solid sales plan. The truth is they don’t. Chances are, neither do you. You have sales goals, but not a sales plan. Sales goals are a good starting point, but if you want more confidence around your team’s ability to achieve your sales goals, you need to fix these two mistakes in your sales plan.

Where Will The Business Come From?

The first problem with your sales plan is that it doesn’t assign your sales goals to specific accounts.

You’ve taken your monthly or quarterly sales goals and assigned them to your reps which is a good idea. And I bet you’ve assigned sales goals to your different offerings. But, if you don’t assign your sales expectations to specific accounts, then you don’t have a complete sales plan. You need to go back to your sales manager or sales reps and require that they assign their sales goals to specific accounts.

You will quickly learn if you have enough accounts to support the sales goals. You need to do this for every rep. If you don’t have confidence in how the team assigned the goals to specific accounts, then you need more or better accounts.

What If Everything Doesn’t Go As You Expected?

The second problem with your sales plan is that you didn’t account for disruption.

You expect the sales to just hum along, without any disruption, until the year ends. That’s not how it works. When 2020 started, you enjoyed two great months. The economy was good. It was the start of a new year. Selling was easy. March comes, COVID hits. Your sales plan is derailed. You’ve spent the last six to eight months picking up the pieces.

By now you’ve recovered. You’ve made the necessary pivots and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But here’s the point: At some highly-inconvenient time, adversity will come again. It probably won’t be a pandemic, but be prepared. For example, what happens if you lose a top-performing rep? What do you do if you lose a big account?

Your sales plan must account for unforseen adversity. You have to account for something going wrong during the selling year, and you must talk with your executive team about different contingencies. If you fix these two common mistakes, then you will have an actual sales plan. Now go assign your sales goals to your accounts and find the risks in your business that can derail the entire year.

Nigel Green is a sought-after sales advisor and the leading authority on improving sales team performance. Sales Planning Simplified is a kit that helps sales leaders hit their sales targets year after year.



Nigel Green

Nigel Green helps investors, executives, and sales leaders of quickly-growing companies eliminate chance and create predictable sales growth.