Hiding Behind Sales Excuses


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It was in 1989 when I was asked actually become the director of the sales team. I remember the opportunity as if it was yesterday. I was excited because I had a new team of people was accountable to me. As I began to get settled into the new role of sales manager I was excited about discussing objectives, accounts and possibilities for new transactions. And then the hits began.

I say this because on a daily basis sales managers run into many obstacles. Of the numerous things that sales directors hear on a daily basis are sales excuses. Now like many of you after 30 years I have pretty much heard almost everything. So when talking about this the other day during a recent sales coaching session I was reminded of the numerous excuses that we all hear from sales representatives.

So I sat down with pen to paper and rationalized what I believe of the top seven uses from selling professionals.

  1. Not my account – When things are going well they go very well for sales professionals. However, when there are terminations or when there are problems within the account it is interesting to see many representatives running for the hills. It is completely understood that not every customer will ever be satisfied. Yet sales professionals are responsible for the account no matter what. Their salary and commissions represent their commutative approach to account management.
  2. Territory trauma – It is not uncommon for sales managers to manually adjust sales territories on an annual basis. There are many reasons why this is done but suffice to say it boils down to either bring in new sales professionals or shifting accounts for better productivity. It is always interesting during the shift to hear the banter from sales representatives about “their account.” Accounts are owned by the company not the individual representative. Is understood that consumers invest in strong relationships however if the account lacks productivity than change is required.
  3. Quotas are so high my nose is bleeding – I have written many times about the disconnect between senior officers and the realistic possibilities of sales quotas. Unfortunately there are some organization that provide the target and say go get it. It is at this point you simply must deal with the hand that you are dealt.
  4. Proposals and the request for information – Sometimes it is amusing to listen to sales representatives enamored by a request for information. I do not dismiss that some industries work in this manner. However, an RFI should never be responded to unless you have met with the decision-maker and had a value based discussion. An RFI is simply a waste of time without a proper relationship and no sales representative should ever have a response to an RFI in their pipeline report.
  5. Livin’ on a prayer – I know many sales managers that want to rip their hair out when selling professionals state that they are waiting for the client to return a call. Sales managers must instruct their professionals that they are orchestra leaders. The band does not play and the music does not sound unless the conductor does something. Never wait on a client and always be in control of every relationship and conversation.
  6. These leads suck – One of my favorite clients constantly hears this excuse from their 34 person sales department. The selling professionals constantly state that marketing is not doing a good job providing sales leads. There are two issues here 1) sometimes but not always there exist inefficiencies between sales and marketing and 2) the reliance of selling professionals for sales leads. Selling professionals are just as responsible for lead generation as they are for account management. No one should be waiting for leads as selling professionals must be not only farmers but hunters.
  7. Negotiation nuts – Everything in life is a negotiation. The issue here is that some professionals sometimes bend over very quickly when the client states the prices too high. While I do not dismiss the value of negotiation I do believe that building a strong customer centered relationship is best for your bargaining position. When the relationship is based upon value there is less need to negotiate.

We all hear excuses on a daily basis and I am very interested in hearing from you of those that did not make this list. Please provide yours in the comment area below. And if you are interested in learning more about excuses and rumor in the sales process please read my book Split Second Selling.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Drew Stevens
Drew J. Stevens Ph.D. (Dr. Drew) is the author of Split Second Selling and the soon to be released Ultimate Business Bible and six other business books on sales, customer loyalty, self mastery and business development solutions. Drew helps organizations to dramatically accelerate revenue and outstrip the competition. He conducts over 4 international keynotes, seminars and workshops per year.


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