Want a report like this each week? Subscribe for free.
This report analyzes 2,249 responses to understand which sales leadership mistakes sales & marketing people believe are the most painful. We broke down answers by function, seniority, and company size.
- Lack of training and enablement is the consensus priority, but Sales is more divided compared to Marketing and other functions.
- As companies scale, perceptions change. Sales people at bigger companies do NOT want more process and they are more sensitive to overly aggressive quotas.
- Surprisingly, Sales leaders are at least as sensitive to too-high quotas as frontline reps.
- See the top comments behind the numbers.
- Use our slides and CSV export to drawn your own conclusion.
Assume that you have a clear and compelling strategy, you're hiring the right sales reps, and you're building the right culture. With those anchors, you then have to decide which operational problems get your attention.
Do you get rethink quotas and territories? Do you invest in enablement and training? Do you build new processes to help scale? Do you try to remove unnecessary process that slows people down? Using Charlie Munger's "Inversion" framework, you might ask: Which would be the most painful if I got it wrong?
In this edition of Peer Signal, 2,249 business people shared their opinions.
We framed this poll to understand which mistakes cause the most pain for a sales team. Here's how we asked:
Here are the total results, before we did any scrubbing or slicing by job function.
This is impossible to trust alone. So let’s get into the details...
Take Away 1: Sales is more divided compared to other functions, especially Marketing.
Lack of training and enablement is the consensus priority, but some clear differences arise between what sales say they need vs. what others think sales needs.
The Sales responses themselves are pretty divided. There is likely a big emotional component, depending on which mistake people have experienced first-hand. When you compare this to Marketers' perceptions, there is a clear difference of opinion.
Take Away 2: Sales people at bigger companies do NOT want more process and they are more sensitive to too-high quotas.
As companies scale, perceptions change. Looking just at Sales responses, you can see a clear evolution in sensitivity from the early to late stage.
If you are in a big company, your reps are much more likely to ask for less process and lower quotas. This makes sense as bigger companies have invested in training, enablement, and process to reach their current scale. On the flip side, Sales reps at the smallest companies are often concerned about a lack of process.
Take Away 3: Sales leaders are at least as sensitive to overly aggressive quotas as frontline reps
Some interesting nuances appear when we compared senior sales leaders with frontline reps.
You might think that "setting quotas too high" would be a bigger concern for the frontlines, but senior leaders appear to be at least as sensitive to this topic. Perhaps being accountable for a roll-up quota across a team makes you even more aware of the problem with setting the bar too high?
Want a report like this each week? Subscribe for free.
Behind the Numbers
There was a lively discussion on this topic from people in sales, marketing, and other executive roles.
Jill Rowley long-term SaaS sales leader, talked about the growing importance of enablement/training, but only after you have the right profile:
"The old school approach to growing revenue is to hire expensive sales reps who take 6-9 months to ramp and make quota less than 50% of time. Instead, companies hiring the right reps who can facilitate best-in-class buying experiences, quickly onboard and able them with the right content, tools, and training to deliver customer value, are outperforming their peers. More doesn't equal better!! In enterprise selling, reps need business acumen, customer acumen, and sales acumen. If you hire to the wrong profile, quotas, process (too much or too little), training and enablement are for not."
D. Wayne Poole, CEO and long-term SaaS CRO, made the case for enablement/training as a foundation for the other options:
"Training/enablement takes the most resources (time & experienced personnel), therefore it is often under-resourced resulting in under delivery. Yet - it is the most important. Competence leads to confidence which leads to added conviction. Also - process itself requires training/enablement. An additional benefit is that formal training helps to weed out a few "mis-hires" early, prior to making mistakes on customers."
Ben Elijah, a Sales Enablement Leader, called out the important different between training and enablement.
"Training and enablement are very different things. Training is a tickbox L&D exercise. The absence of training is used as an excuse for failure by the entitled and the lazy who fell into sales without purpose or a plan. And let's be real, unless your sales training is god-tier, it's DOA.
Enablement should be about building processes that yield predictable, repeatable, and scalable results. Sure, training is part of that story but an increasingly small (decreasingly big?) part."
Amahl Williams, Director at SYKES Digital Services, raised another related mistake:
"Hiring a VP of Sales before hiring a VP of Marketing."
Lew Bodman, Strategic Partner Manager at Nintex, added another high priority:
"Not on this list but a head scratcher for me is hiring additional AE headcount when lead demand doesn't support the current AE headcount."
Haylee Taylor, Account Executive at ClozeLoop, Talked about specific process gaps that cause the most pain:
"Failing to run experiments quickly to either: 1. pivot fast or 2. throw more gas on the fire"
Ryann Greve, an experience marketing leader, added another top priority:
"In my experience, if Leadership does not have Marketing at the table to partner with Sales, they are dead in the water. Without Marketing, you are lacking insight-driven content, the necessary focus on desirable prospects and consistent messaging and experience. Sales is left on their own yet expected to produce, which is totally unfair and will prove unsuccessful. Sales and Marketing can be a powerhouse partnership when Leadership takes an insights- and data-driven approach to growth."