Sales Excellence June 08, 2015

Sales management: 7 excuses you shouldn’t just accept

How to turn excuses into opportunities

Sales management: 7 excuses you shouldn’t just accept

 Krauthammer newsletter
“Time is tight,” “the market is tough,” “budgets are being cut.” Do these excuses sound familiar? What’s the best way to respond to them? By simply turning up the pressure, or by offering strategic help? Find out how to turn excuses into opportunities.


Today, being a sales rep is tough. And the tougher the environment, the more often sales reps resort to making excuses for not meeting their targets. As a sales manager, how do you normally respond? Do you turn up the pressure? Push them to fill their diaries? Urge them to make more cold calls? Or just accept the excuses? Reactions like these usually don’t lead to better results.

A more effective approach is to turn those common excuses into sales-driving opportunities. Here are some strategic responses to the excuses you hear when you ask: “Why didn’t you make your sales target last month?”

1. Time is tight

Sales rep:          “I didn’t have enough time. I’ve been too busy with admin.”

Sales manager:  “How many meetings did you actually set up?

Sales rep:           “Not many because I’ve been looking after my existing contracts, which doesn’t leave time for new

Sales manager:  “I need you to be out there hunting new business and setting up meetings not just taking care of
                         existing accounts!”

The better response
Help your sales reps gain more control over their time and results. Supporting them to better manage their time by creating proactive monthly plans together should enable them to complete admin tasks, service existing clients AND most importantly, engage new prospects. Instead of emphasising the number of meetings, point out that the quality of these interactions is more important.

2. Others are cheaper and better

Sales rep:          “Our prices are too high so it’s difficult to close deals.”

Sales manager:  “How much more expensive are we?”

Sales rep:          “A lot. Others also offer better products.”

Sales manager: “Then, you’ll have to be more creative.”

The better response
Work together and find out which companies are leading in your industry. What advantages do their solutions offer? And where are they weaker? Motivate sales reps to capitalise on your unique selling points and demonstrate how your products or services can benefit customers.

3. No interest

Sales rep:          “Everybody I called already has contracts in place.”

Sales manager: “Then you just have to make more cold calls.”

The better response
Instead of pushing your reps to spend more time on the phone, encourage them to do more research to find the right prospects. Understanding customers’ ambitions and strategies, and how you can contribute to their success, will lead to more productive calls. It will also help uncover reasons to meet.

4. No budget

Sales rep:          “Everyone’s budgets are being cut.”

Sales manager:  “But they do have a budget. You need to try harder.”

The better response
Work together with your rep to develop strategies focused on doing more with less. Find out how you can help customers save costs and still make an impact.

5. A tough market

Sales rep:          “The market is flat right now.”

Sales manager:  “Have you been persistent enough?”

The better response
Help change your sales reps’ perceptions. Although selling may be tough, the market still exists. Highlight the value of staying in contact with key decision makers and focusing on how you are different than your competitors.

6. It takes time

Sales rep:          “I’m just waiting for the final signature on a big deal I’ve been working on. It shouldn’t take
                         much longer.”

Sales manager:  “Don’t waste time. Put more pressure on them.”

The better response
Deals don’t always come through as quickly as planned. Show that you understand this, but remind sales reps not to overlook smaller, yet good opportunities that could help your company meet its targets.

7. Limited connections

Sales rep:          “I’m struggling to get into the market; I just don’t seem to have the right connections."

Sales manager:  “Then improve your network. Make more calls and set up more meetings.”

The better response
Review your sales representatives’ sales cycle and pipeline. Where and how can they make improvements? Help them to build their network in innovative ways, such as by using social media to get faster results.

Generate business not excuses

As a sales manager, don’t accept the excuses. Instead respond to them with useful, proactive solutions that help to create a sales culture of positivity. Doing this will not only strengthen your sales force, but also impact your targets, generate business and contribute to your company’s overall success.

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