Is there anything more frustrating in this world than trying to achieve the impossible?
Sometimes, businesses are guilty of setting high, unattainable targets and then wonder why their sales people can't hit them.
This leads to demotivated staff and unsatisfied bosses - in short, unhappiness all round.
That's why my advice to smaller businesses is to know your market, play to your strengths, and set realistic goals.
Have a clear and well planned sales strategy, well communicated to all staff.
Let me give you an example. Sam was a sales guy working for a client. He had a valuable sales pipeline, but his problem was he never hit his target.
When asked about this, he explained the tremendous potential each deal offered, but the reality was Sam was unlikely to win them.
His strength of personality and persuasiveness got him into large deals, but he was selling a medium range solution and the software functionality, support structure and reference sites just weren't suited to this environment.
He was trying to compete but the solution was not competitive.
My advice to the business was to focus on the deals where they really could win - and be competitive - not sales where they were making up the numbers.
After much debate they took this advice and withdrew from the larger deals. When they refocused their efforts they started winning more 'traditional' deals.
The Directors were happy - the sales were coming in. Sadly, Sam wasn't. He perceived the loss of potential big commission payments and left, joining a company with a large corporate focus where he was actually very successful.
This scenario wasn't Sam's fault - his skills and experience were in the corporate sector.
This was partly a company recruitment mistake - they were seduced by the corporate potential and the growing pipeline, only to be frustrated by the lack of results.
But more than this, the company also lacked that all important clear sales strategy. The Directors hadn't made it clear to Sam the profile of the type of businesses to whom he should have been selling.