Let’s not deny that sales is a challenging job. Going out, finding new prospects and then working to turn them into customers is no easy task. There are plenty of challenges and obstacles which is why we pay and incentivize sales people so highly. The problem comes when sales people try to use or find excuses for lack of success or lack of performance.
As an often ego driven profession it can be very difficult for sales people to admit fault or defeat. The risk is that unless you can put your hands up, take accountability and learn you’ll struggle to progress. By making an excuse you are just trying to justify failure and if failure becomes justifiable, why work harder to achieve success?
The other challenge comes from what is the difference between a REASON and an EXCUSE? There will absolutely be reasons for failure. There are some situations or circumstances that you absolutely can’t control. The question is, can you plan for them?
Do you have a plan B, C and D to hit target?
A favourite quote of mine is…
This is, in my mind, one of the most powerful quotes a sales person can live by. To be successful in sales you can’t live by finding excuses but you live by constantly finding ways to succeed. You should be finding ways to get hold of the prospect, find ways to present your solution, find ways to close the sales, find ways to get referrals etc.
The best sales people are the ones who overcome challenges, who jump hurdles and who FIND A WAY. The ones who don’t, who don’t hit target, who don’t hit their KPI’s, more often than no they are the ones looking for excuses.
If you’re struggling in sales please do read through these excuses and if you find yourself using them then question whether you could be better off finding a way to overcome them instead of accepting them as reasons and not excuses.
To help kick start this, here are the top 10 common sales excuses that need to STOP!
1) The leads are terrible!
If you are fortunate enough to have leads generated for you then they will often bear the brunt of sales people complaining that they’re not good enough. If you’ve worked in a sales role where you have to generate your own leads you’ll soon realise how valuable ANY lead is!
2) They’re not ready to buy.
This is a common one, often they’re not ready to buy or they’ll make a decision next month. The excuses go on and on but in reality it’s often down to you not creating an urgency, building/creating enough value or finding out their true motivation to buy. If they truly aren’t ready to buy then you should have built a larger pipeline to make sure you still hit target and don’t have to apply unnecessary pressure to that prospect.
3) They can’t afford it.
Our value of money differs a lot and if this is something that is blocking your sale you need to question whether you qualified the lead properly or whether you have created enough value to outweigh the cost. If they don’t have the money then why are they in the pipeline, or if they do have the money then why don’t they feel it’s worth it?
4) They’re happy with their current provider.
I’m sure they are, but this is very rarely set in stone. It just shows that you’ve failed to show them a better option. I’m happy with my iPhone, and after using one for nearly 6 years now I’d say I was pretty happy with my current provider. In no way does this mean I would never chose an alternative, it’s down to the salesperson to show me a better solution.
5) The economy is weak!
Sometimes the economy is up, sometimes it is down. Now there are some industries that do get severely affected by the economy I’m not going to deny that, however the world never stops. If it is having that much of an impact you need to question how the company survives and why you would want to stay there if you can’t sell. The other question you need to ask is are any other sales people hitting numbers? If there are people in your company or competition who are still bringing in sales then it’s probably you and not the economy. Find the people who can sell and learn what they do.
6) They’re not in the office to make the decision
It’s quite well known now that where they used to only be one decision maker within a business now there are often several. If your main contact is on holiday, sick or out in meetings there will most likely be other people involved within that decision making process that you can leverage. If not then you should either plan ahead knowing they are going to be out of the business or have contingency and a much stronger pipeline to back it up. The key is to build relationships with several decision makers or several key contacts within the company to help you move the sale along should one of them become unavailable.
7) No one is getting back to me!
They’re not answering my calls, returning my voicemail, replying to my emails etc. Don’t get me wrong it is frustrating when you’ve had some super exciting sales conversations and the buyer seems really keen and then when it comes to decision time they disappear off the radar. In reality it’s usually because you haven’t capitalised on the conversations you had with them to progress them further or close them sooner, or you haven’t created enough urgency or value for them to answer.
8) No one knows who we are!
If it’s not the leads or the prospect then it’s marketing’s fault! There either isn’t enough marketing, no one knows who you are, people don’t trust you, the marketing isn’t clear or isn’t effective. Again these are variables that you can’t control and shouldn’t waste time worrying about as you can overcome all of those areas. Ultimately it’s your job to sell yourself, your product, and brand. It’s your job, that’s why you took the job there, because you saw an opportunity. It’s sometimes easier to sell something that doesn’t have a legacy compared to something that might carry a bad reputation.
9) Our competition is better!
There is no doubt your competition will be better than at you some things, and you will be better than them at others. It will all boil down to the sales person and their ability to build a relationship, identify problems and present clear solutions. People will pay more for better solutions, they’ll chose smaller providers if they can build trust. Personally I would never fear taking on better competitor as I know I personally could make the difference.
10) I’ve been busy doing other things.
Paperwork, emails, helping others etc are easy excuses to try and justify your lack of sales activity or result. Yes you will have paperwork to do, CRM’s to update and there’s no doubt plenty of people will ask for you help or you’ll have fires to put out. It will always be YOUR job to prioritise, say no when appropriate and make sure you do activities that affect your job which is to sell! You could chose to help someone in the office, or you could make 10 more calls. You could chose to spend peak time doing paperwork, or you could do sales tasks in peak sales time and find quiet time to do paperwork.