For many business owners, the first sign of trouble in their company is a lack of sales. Lackluster closing rates and sales performance isn’t the root of the problem, but it may be a symptom of organizational dysfunction. Rather than looking solely at the bottom line, you may need to consider how your company is supporting the sales team and encouraging them to meet their goals.

Symptoms of Organizational Dysfunction: Lack of Sales

Throughout the year, this blog will be featuring a recurring series discussing the symptoms of organizational dysfunction. You can learn more about the idea of organizational dysfunction, its causes, and how to overcome it in this previous blog series. This new series will focus on the everyday challenges business owners face that could be a sign of bigger problems beneath the surface.

Lack of Sales Could be a Sign of Something Bigger

Sometimes the market is slow, but more often, a lack of sales reflects problems with your sales team’s structure, strategy, and support. Many executives struggle to motivate their sales teams, trying everything from incentives and bonuses to competitions. However, they may overlook the larger organizational problems that are making it hard for sales professionals to close the deal. The key to understanding what a lack of sales says about your company is to go beyond the bottom line. You need to examine the root of your sales problem before you can strategize a solution.

Why Aren’t Your Sellers Selling?

There are many reasons why a sales team might be missing benchmarks and goals. Some of them – like global pandemics and supply chain issues – are beyond your control. But other problems may be coming from inside your organization itself.

A lack of sales could be caused by:

  • Lack of trust in the product or the production team
  • Underdeveloped emotional intelligence interfering with closing sales
  • Unclear or uncommunicated sales goals
  • Unrecognized bottlenecks and blockages in the sales funnel
  • Lack of buy-in from sales team members on processes and goals
  • Communications challenges both internally and with clients

Listening to What a Lack of Sales is Telling You

Figuring out which causes are contributing to your lack of sales requires open communication between salespeople and supervisors, as well as an openness to doing things differently. If your employees are afraid of expressing their concerns you could never learn that the is as simple as one person needing to field 500 emails every day, or as complicated as a workplace culture of tough competition and gamesmanship.

As a business owner, you need to commit to openly discussing the problems facing your sales team. This includes being prepared to invest in the solutions that discussion reveals are needed. For example, if interviews with your sales team indicates that they feel like potential clients simply say no to their offers without negotiating, you need to be prepared to bring in a trainer to teach them different negotiation techniques. If your employees tell you they don’t know which sales options are available when talking to customers, you may need to invest in software to track inventory levels.

Your sales team likely knows what they need to succeed. However, they need to be able to trust that expressing those concerns and ideas will result in positive changes, and not endanger their position with the company. Depending on your workplace culture, you may need to hire an external business consultant to interview employees, compile and anonymize the results, and pass along suggestions of how to put an end to lack of sales.  

Get Help Motivating Your Sales Force

One of the most challenging causes for lack of sales is an unmotivated or unproductive sales force. If your people are doing the bare minimum, it may be a sign of significant occupational dysfunction. Historically, sales departments have relied on monetary incentives to push employees to do more – through commissions, or achievement bonuses – however, there are other intrinsic motivators that may be more effective. Working with a business consultant can help to identify what is holding your key sales personnel back, and what they need to motivate them to do more, try harder, and close more sales.


David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 25 years’ experience in resolving organizational dysfunction. Through business consulting and facilitation, David helps sales teams improve productivity and overcome lack of sales problems. Contact us to meet with David to move toward high organizational functioning today.