By Tibor Shanto – firstname.lastname@example.org
Most people, and contrary to rumors, sales people are people, when faced with completing a task, especially a difficult task or one they don’t like, will do one of two things. I call this the Two EX’s of Success. They will either EXecute, or make EXcuses as to why they did not execute.
Now I know there are some reading this saying that’s not entirely so, there could be reasons, extenuating circumstances, etc., sure there could be, but that doesn’t change the fact that they didn’t make the effort to execute.
Some tell me they weren’t quite ready, they needed to make some adjustments, get ready, needed to have things just so or in place, the cosmos aligned, or whatever. None of that matters, they didn’t execute. Maybe I can help you relate differently, you know when your flight is delayed, and you face getting to an important meeting late, doesn’t matter what the airline says, it doesn’t change the fact that it was late.
No matter how badly one executes, it is better than the best excuse. We can fix things done badly, but you can’t help those that don’t do it, we can’t even begin to evaluate what may need to be addressed.
I can understand the various reason for performance anxiety, poor performance is not a source of pride. Or is it. After all don’t we have respect for those who try and fail, then try again, until they make progress, and then start it all again to take things to the next level. The bonus in sales is you make money as a result and get to keep your job. The downside is that even make you make excuses you all too often get to keep your job. This often leads to a culture of excuses.
Let me be clear, I don’t blame the reps, it is usually the managers’ or management’s fault. If you have kids you know that you need to set the expectations and rules. When I meet with front line managers and their seniors, and ask what their expectations are of reps, you get clear big picture stuff like results, but little clarity around the activities that lead to those results. A lack of consistency on reviewing, training and reviewing the activity and the quality of execution.
Further, when those same managers are challenged about the results, their failure to execute their mandate, what do they do, offer up excuses, excuses excepted by senior managers. I can tell my kids not to feed the dog off the table, but if I do it, what’s the take away? Discipline is a hard thing to balance, and I am not advocating an intolerant culture, but excuses, no matter how creative, or how hard market conditions may be, will not lead to improvement or success, execution will.
One way to change excuses to execution is to utilize a clear process, a roadmap if you will with activities, objectives, and desired outcomes. This allows you to take the subjectivity out of discussions, allowing reps to lower defences, and accept that they can do things badly, as long as they do things, rather than being frozen by fear of failing. Central to success is a proper review regime, again the accountability for this is the manager’s not the reps, and rather than feeling pestered, it will show them you care and willing to help. Add a solid long term coaching plan, and you have a platform for ongoing success and improvement.
May sound odd, but let’s encourage them to do things badly, rather than accepting brilliant excuses, that probably required more creativity and effort than the completing the task in question.
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