Failing to meet sales goals is never a time for congratulations or pats on the back, and individuals or departments typically are held accountable for such failures. But failing to achieve sales goals can be justified and understood in some cases -- especially when it's a result of circumstances outside the control of employees.


When sales goals are projected, typically the person in charge of the sales budget considers staff size and the achievable amount of business each sales representative can bring in. When the staff is smaller than expected, due to employee illness or family circumstances, employee resignations or employee terminations, it can negatively affect sales numbers. With fewer employees to distribute the workload, less time is available for sales calls and follow-up. This can lead to delays in response time to inquires and a loss of sales.

Industry Decline

Market fluctuations in your industry could also affect your sales numbers. If the market suddenly declines, or the country's overall economy shrinks, your sales team could fall short of goals that were set when times were rosier. Such circumstances are usually outside your control and unpredictable. For example, a crash in the housing market could cause individuals to spend less on home improvement projects, impacting sales in your industry. Rising gas costs can lead to less consumer spending. If your industry sells luxury or nonessential products, your sales could fall dramatically.

Other Investments

Unexpected opportunities in other areas of your business, such as acquisition of another location or investment in brand marketing tactics, could cause a temporary dip in sales. With only so much revenue to be distributed among departments and marketing campaigns, less money might be available for lead generation. Fewer leads can result in fewer sales than you expected when you crafted your budget.

Faulty Budgeting

Faulty budgeting is often responsible for sales shortfalls. When you prepared your budget and sales goals for the year, you might have expected a percentage rise in sales from previous years to continue, forgetting that the sales boom resulted from a stimulus package, a tax decrease or a real-estate boom. If that money pool shrinks, your sales are likely to decline as well. Faulty planning and projecting could make it impossible to meet sales goals that were unrealistic to begin with.