What Happens When Sales Expectations Aren’t Met?

There was a tremendous amount of hype surrounding the Red Sox-Yankees opening day game.  Two ace pitchers were to take the mound when Josh Beckett, pitching for the Sox, would face CC Sabathia, hurling for the Yankees.  Two of the best pitchers going head to head against two of the best offenses in baseball.  What a pitching duel this could be!

Well the opportunity to watch a pitching duel never materialized as both teams hit better than they pitched. The game itself was fun, but the pitching matchup failed to meet expectations.

Yesterday must have been an incredibly slow news day.  The 11 PM News had a brush fire in Boston (a brush fire?), Josh Beckett’s contract extension, Tiger Woods’ first day back to the PGA, The President throwing out the first ball at the Washington Nationals’ Opening Day Game, and two women who, while walking in their neighborhood, were struck by pellets fired by bicycle riding teenagers.  I kid you not.  For the Beckett, Woods and Obama stories to be included as part of the news instead of the sports shows just how slow a news day it was.  Yesterday’s news really failed to meet expectations.

Yesterday, one of your salespeople learned that their opportunity with that nice large account is not going to develop.  While they were simply out kicking tires, your salesperson got excited about the potential.  In the end, the prospect decided to stay with their incumbent vendor.  This opportunity failed to meet expectations.

What’s the difference between a baseball game or the news failing to meet expectations versus one of your salespeople’s opportunities failing to meet expectations?

The game and the news are quickly forgotten and don’t impact your life unless you bet on the outcome of the game or happen to be the leading story on the news.  When your salespeople focus too much of their time and resources on a large opportunity and it doesn’t materialize, you can lose 6-12 months of productivity from them.  Not only that, your forecasts fall short, your budget goes to hell, and you could have a frustrated, demotivated salesperson on your hands.  The worst part is if you have a long sales cycle, say 8-12 months, and the salesperson devoted most of his time and energy to this opportunity for 8-12 months, it will take an additional 8-12 months before the pipeline will produce new, meaningful revenue.

Has this ever happened to you?