8 reasons salespeople miss their targets and what to do about it

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Sales is a tough business. Your team will continuously receive rejections, have their calls ignored or simply call through low periods when many leaders are not interested in buying. While effort definitely has something to do with whether a salesperson will hit their target, sometimes other factors contribute to even the best salespeople missing their sales targets.

1. Your team chases bad leads

Bad leads might include old contacts, prospects that do not align with your target persona, or people who have not engaged with your brand. Chasing these leads takes valuable time away from salespeople that they could spend on more productive activities such as researching qualified leads, nurturing current customers and developing relationships with new prospects. Moreover, chasing bad leads can lead to a decrease in morale due to frustration when attempting to contact a string of uninterested prospects.

To combat this problem, ensure your sales team has access to reliable data to help them better identify which contacts are likely to be interested in your product or service. You might also implement a lead scoring system that helps salespeople prioritise their outreach and focus on leads that are more likely to convert.

2. Marketing does not provide leads

A sales team can seldom survive on inbound leads from Marketing alone, but the leads that Marketing provides are incredibly valuable. Without solid leads from Marketing, the sales team has the difficult job of closing business based on cold-calling efforts alone.

For Marketing to effectively support Sales, they need to deliver contacts within the target demographic of the given product or service.

3. Marketing does not qualify leads

The leads that Marketing provides to Sales will be of little value if they are not qualified first. A lack of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) can contribute to salespeople failing to hit their target. Without MQLs, they may not know what kind of customer they are dealing with and whether or not their products or services can meet that customer’s needs. This can lead to wasted time and resources as the sales team pursues leads unlikely to result in closed deals.

4. Not enough opportunities

Salespeople can find it difficult to meet their targets without access to the right sales opportunities. Too often, sales teams must chase low-value deals or struggle with inefficient processes that take too long to generate leads. Without enough high-quality leads and prospects at their disposal, salespeople may feel demotivated and overwhelmed. This can lead to missed targets, poor performance, and low morale.

To combat this issue, sales leaders must ensure that their team has access to fresh lists of leads and prospects. They can achieve this by working with Marketing on aligning campaigns that generate high-quality leads, a streamlined sales process that quickly identifies qualified opportunities and an optimised strategy to prioritise the best-fit customers.

5. Historical data is disrupting decision-making

Data stored in CRM systems can be valuable for businesses, allowing them to draw on historical trends and patterns to guide their decisions. However, this data will not always account for changes in the market and economic conditions that could affect current targets. As such, salespeople need to remain aware of the latest developments and should not rely solely on historical data when adjusting and refining their goals.

6. The sales cycle has become too long

Sales cycles can be incredibly long and complex, presenting unique challenges for salespeople. Long sales cycles are often a major source of frustration as they take so much time to close, making it difficult for salespeople to hit their targets in the allotted timeframe. Even if the customer is interested in your product or service, convincing them to commit might take longer than expected.

Further complications can arise because customers can change their minds during the sales cycle, meaning it is difficult to gauge how long a sale will take. It is also important to stay organised and have a well-defined process for managing the sales cycle, from initial contact to close. This allows salespeople to monitor progress and adjust their strategy as needed, helping them navigate long and complex sales cycles more effectively.

7. Not enough coaching

Coaching is essential for any successful sales team. It provides sales reps with the skills and knowledge they need to gain insight into customer needs and preferences. They can discuss potential obstacles that may block sales, develop strategies to overcome these, and build effective networks of contacts. Without effective coaching, salespeople often lack the necessary tools and tactics to achieve their targets. Without proper guidance and training, sales reps can feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped for success. By providing clear instructions, offering timely advice, giving constructive criticism, and celebrating successes along the way, a good coach can help their sales team become more productive and successful.

8. Motivation has taken a hit

When salespeople lack motivation, it can seriously impact their ability to hit their targets. Many salespeople find it hard to stay focused when dealing with a line of rejections that make it difficult to hit targets. To combat this, the sales leadership can provide clear and achievable goals, recognise wins and offer support to salespeople when they flag issues to ensure they feel supported.

Setting SMART goals will help to motivate salespeople and keep them on track. Having a system that rewards success and acknowledges progress can also help give salespeople an extra boost. By doing this, your team can stay focused on achieving their goals and remain motivated throughout their sales cycle. 


Missing sales targets can be a frustrating experience for salespeople and their managers alike. Falling short of targets can lead to missed revenue opportunities, decreased morale, and potential job insecurity. However, it’s important to remember that missed targets can happen for various reasons, and identifying the underlying causes is key to improving sales performance and meeting future targets. By understanding the reasons behind missed sales targets, sales managers can take targeted actions to improve sales performance. By doing so, sales teams can increase their chances of meeting targets and driving business growth.

Resonate can support your sales team in hitting their targets

At Resonate, we specialise in enabling the success of B2B sales organisations. We guide you throughout the sales process. We help develop the sales strategy and an associated plan that converts the strategy to execution so your organisation can get predictable revenue over the coming quarters and years.

We also provide ongoing advisory and consulting services to ensure your strategy and plan become a reality. We focus on helping the sales organisation achieve its quota and meet targets predictably and consistently.

For more, please visit our sales solutions page.

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RK is the CEO & Co-Founder of Resonate.

RK is Resonate’s chief strategist, thought leader, and IT industry veteran. Our clients depend on RK to advise on their business strategy, channel strategy, and sales strategy. 

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