Let’s face it… selling ain’t easy. Sometimes it seems easier to lure a ravenous lion with a lettuce leaf than hit your monthly sales target. Even the best, most seasoned salespeople will feel pressurized from time to time and result in them not hitting target. It’s this pressure that spawns excuses – excuses that detract attention away from a salesperson’s performance (or lack of it).
I hate hearing excuses; it feels like people are trying to blame others rather than accepting their own failings. But what are the top 7 excuses you’ll hear from a salesperson? The answers are below.
1. “We’re not competitive on price”
This can be a valid excuse but it shouldn’t be a reason why you aren’t hitting targets. Being the cheapest does not always guarantee a sale. Price usually comes to the fore when a customer has to decide between a like for like product and there is no added value from a company.
Solve it: Sell value not price. Explain how your company is great for service or that your product is superior. Think about the automotive market and how BMW, Jaguar, Audi etc sell millions of cars each year. None of these are the cheapest, it’s because the customer perceives greater value.
2. “I don’t have time to complete sales reports or update the CRM”
Yes sales reports take a long time to create and yes the CRM system may seem like a burden, but these tools are there to help you sell more and hit your sales target. By not using them you risk underperforming. Did you know that only about 70% of inbound leads are actually contacted? The main cause for this is a lack of accountability in the CRM. Salespeople don’t log appointments, nor pick them up, leading to a snowball effect.
Solve it: The sales manager should enforce your CRM system’s housekeeping. Build a culture where it becomes a priority and if sales reports take too long to create, automate them. There are lots of software options out there that can create a sales report in minutes, not hours. Another reason that this excuse gets raised is because the salesperson lacks the skills to enter the information accurately into the CRM system. Therefore the sales manager needs to fix the competency gap and reiterate the benefits a CRM system can give them.
3. “Marketing isn’t passing me enough leads”
This one has definitely got an air of: “It’s their fault not mine.” By passing the blame you’ll not only be viewed in a negative light you may also find that all of your inbound leads stop altogether making it even harder to hit your sales target.
Solve it: Yes inbound leads will help the sales pipeline, there’s no denying that but you shouldn’t rely on them for your figures. Treat them as a bonus when you receive one. You may also benefit from aligning your sales and marketing teams so that a qualified lead from marketing is the same as a qualified lead for you.
4. “The economy is crap, that’s why my sales are crap!”
In any industry there are peak times when business just seems so easy to capture, and other times when you couldn’t sell a heater to an Eskimo. The key to a good salesperson is to continue to hit targets when times are tough.
Solve it: Value-discovery is vital to solving this excuse. Salespeople need to be able to help clients discover reasons to solve their problems or change their current situation. If a customer says, “It’s not in the current budget”, you need to find out what they are currently spending money on and show them that your product is more critical to their business so that they relocate their budget.
5. “My territory is weaker than everyone else’s”
So your colleague is a rep for the ‘big city’, they’ve got more clients and that’s where all the decision-making is done, right? Wrong. There is research that has been carried out suggesting that you can still find highly successful salespeople in smaller cities, regions or rural areas.
Solve it: The successful salespeople working outside of the big cities use their territory as an opportunity to shine above their competitors (and internal colleagues). Their focus is directed to proactive and passive sales and marketing strategies that give them the highest likelihood of achieving their sales target. They understand their territory and know where the wins are… It just takes more effort.
6. “It’s not me, it’s the product”
Wow you must be desperate to use this one. So everyone else has been able to sell the product but you haven’t. Did you try to sell a Ferrari and the instant you touched it, it turned into a Lada? No, I thought not.
Solve it: Unless you’re still selling fax machines or VHS tapes there shouldn’t be a problem. Believe in what you’re selling, understand how your high performing colleagues are selling it and really get to the root of the problem that the product solves so you can pitch it better to your prospects.
7. “My pipeline is stacked for next month”
Is it really or are you just delaying the inevitable for another month? Too many salespeople rely on the ‘big’ deals to come in rather than focus on a consistent flow. A lot of companies that I have worked for always try to attract these large deals but the reality is that 80% of their current customer base is small or medium sized businesses.
Solve it: Don’t concentrate solely on the big deals that have a 10% probability of closing and will take a year before they sign up. You need to mix up your strategy and pick the low hanging fruit and work on the ‘sweet spot’. These will help you hit your target; the big deals will just make you look like a superstar.
So there you have it. Now that you know what the 7 top excuses are for why salespeople miss their target and how to overcome them, there is no reason as to why you shouldn’t be hitting your target every month. To give you that extra bit of help, discover sales-i and how it can accelerate a manufacturers, wholesalers or distributors sales.