The daily grind of building sales leads, nurturing, and closing them is a numbers game – the more people you speak to, the higher your chances of success. However, at times it can feel like there are more no’s than yes’s, which makes it easy for sales teams to get caught up in their own excuses rather than holding themselves accountable to their own actions. As a manager, one of the toughest jobs you have is to keep your sales team focused, motivated and accountable to their sales targets. Here are some common excuses we continue to hear, and how to shoot them down! Excuse 1: I don’t have the time A common complaint among sales teams is that they are time-deprived. They protest that they don’t have enough time to chase new prospects or that they don’t have enough time to work up new leads through cold calling – ASSES! Speak with your team and see what kind of schedule they keep. Partition certain times of the day for cold calling and lead generating, ensuring new leads continue to flow through the sales pipeline and daily targets are met. Hold team members accountable by getting them to report back at the end of each working shift on their results – what went well, what didn’t work and how it can be fixed. This is always easier said than done. Consider undertaking sales training and coaching and sales management training to redefine sales team members’ attitudes and habits, and to refine techniques. Excuse 2: It’s the customer’s fault How often do you hear “They don’t understand what I am saying”, “My leads won’t return my calls” or “It’s not my fault they don’t want to buy our products”. ASSES! The customer didn’t understand the pitch because it wasn’t delivered effectively. They ignored the calls because there was no compelling reason to return them. And they said no because, let’s face it, they weren’t convinced. When these kinds of excuses occur, have a look at how your sales team is approaching potential customers. Are they performing as well as they can? Do they understand the product? Sit in with them during a phone call or pitch and evaluate how the message is executed. They may need sales training to refine their approach and methods. As an exercise, ask them to define and sell the value proposition to you. If they can’t define and sell the proposition effectively to you, then how can the customer be expected to understand it and act upon it? Excuse 3: I don’t have the support I need You’ve worked hard to set up the business, create an aspiring working culture and hustled hard to work up sales leads and develop a network of contacts. In other words you’ve set it up – and all your sales team has to do is knock it down. When things aren’t working, it is easy for sales people to blame tanking sales figures on the company not supporting their efforts. As the leader, the buck stops with you. Take a long, hard look at your business. Is it true that there’s not enough support provided? If not, ask them what they need and work with them to make changes. If yes, then it’s time to consider other issues affecting performance. It cuts both ways with this one! Consequences and solutions The consequences of these excuses can be damaging for any business: sales decline, good people leave, customers feel neglected and long-term business relationships wither. So, if your sales team is bringing in lacklustre results and giving excuses for what went wrong rather than what needs to improve, then it’s time for a review. KONA Group helps organisations cut through the key issues and coach solutions with customised sales training and coaching solutions. For more information, please email [email protected] or call 1300 611 288. Or, if you have some additional excuses that you have heard, please share them with us!