We've just come off of the largest shopping season of the year. Consumers engaged in Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all sorts of last-minute deals. With the onset of a New Year, there's a new buying season and a different target audience: sales managers.
As revenue goals are set for 2015, sales managers are tempted to buy into excuses from their sales team as to why higher goals can't be achieved. Excuses vary from lack of time, leads and price. Let's take a closer look at excuses and ways to eliminate them.
Excuse No. 1: Time. Salespeople often complain that they just don't have time to prospect for new business. They are too busy putting out fires or taking care of existing client requests. Some of these excuses may valid so it might be time to rethink your sales structure.
Remedy: Many sales organizations have moved from the "do-it-all" sales model to more specialized selling roles. Take a look at establishing a demand generation team, an account executive team and account management. This type of structure requires rethinking compensation plans, however, leverages each salesperson's time and talents.
However, your sales structure may not be the root cause for the “I don't have time" excuse. Poor time management skills are a huge problem in sales organizations. Dig into the time excuse and you will n find that time isn't the problem — lack of managing time is.
During one-on-one coaching sessions, ask each person on your sales team to bring up his or her calendar. Check for specific times blocked for proactive prospecting. Chances are pretty good there isn't specific time set aside. Hope is the only strategy for lead generation or upselling.
Put on your training and coaching hat and teach your sales team a basic time management principle: calendar blocking. Share with them Parkinson's Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
Excuse No. 2 : Qualified leads. Here's where sales managers and marketing managers start the yearly groundhog conversation. “We aren't getting enough qualified leads." “We are providing great leads---your sales team just doesn't know how to sell and close." Anyone heard this conversation before? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Remedy: Use the emotional intelligence skill of reality testing and apply to both the sales and marketing department. Encourage the marketing director to listen to outbound sales inbound calls. Have members of the marketing team accompany your salespeople on appointments. Apply basic common sense. How can marketing know what prospects are saying if they don't hear it first hand?
Share this reality with your sales team. The best salespeople don't' wait for another department to make them successful. Act like a start-up company that doesn't have money to hire a marketing director. Teach your team to take 100 percent responsibility for their sales success which requires persistence, creativity and more persistence.
Apply reality testing to your sales leadership skills. Are your sales meetings boring pipeline meetings? Is your team fired up or just waking up after participating in one of your sales meetings? Do what you get paid to do and invest time during each meeting developing your sales teams mental psyche and selling skills.
Excuse No. 3: Price. “If we were positioned better in the market, I could sell a lot more." The sales managers agrees and works to get more competitive pricing on products and services. The new pricing structure is presented and close ratios remain the same. Hm.m.m..maybe customers aren't buying just on price.
Remedy: Get out of denial and recognize the instant gratification monster is running your sales department. Everyone is busy but not productive. Work with your sales team and conduct a win-loss analysis from last year. What are common themes or characteristics in prospects that value and pay for your expertise and service? Once those are identified, pursue only prospects that buy on value not price. Get off the insanity gerbil wheel and hop on the profit wheel.
In 2015, make a resolution to stop buying excuses. Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine, received great advice on eliminating excuses from his mentor Jim Rohn. “The day you graduate from childhood to adulthood is the day you take 100% responsibility for your life." Teach your team accountability and responsibility. Manage and lead for results, not excuses.
Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, emotional intelligence and hiring/selection. She is the author of ‘Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success’ and ‘Growing Great Sales Teams.’ Reach Colleen at 303-708-1128 or visit www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com.Permission is granted to reprint this article in print or electronically as long as the paragraph above is included and contact information is provided to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.