I meet a lot of sales people, and while they all for the most part sell something different to their customers, some also spend time and effort selling something to me and their managers: Excuses! This is not new, I have written about it as have others.
What I continue to find frustrating is the degree to which sales leaders allow it, and as a result unwittingly encourage it, and to the degree to which sales reps continue not only to make them while they fail to deliver, and flaunt it at the same time. Needless to say, left unaddressed, the upshot ends up being reduced productivity, revenues, success. Ultimately, it breeds a culture of rationalization that undermines commitment and success.
I delivered a brief presentation to a group of industrial sales people in January, they are in an industry that is optimistic about 2011 and the next few years; their national sales manager wanted to give them a bit of a lift and asked me to speak to the importance of Proactive Prospecting. Being that we only had an hour or so, I wanted to stay on topic, when one of the reps asked me how to handle voice mail. I told him I have a specific approach, and I would be happy to share it with him off line, and he can also go to this blog, put “voice mail” into the search box at the top right, and he would have access to very specific step by step instructions.
Two months later, I was talking to the same rep in preparing for an event. He never did phone me to pick up on the voice mail question, and then went on to tell me that it was still a challenge, and further that “I did not bother to go to your site to do the search.” When I asked him why not, he said that wasn’t a fair question. Now this rep has not made their goal for the last eight year, he usually came in at 70%-80% of plan. The last two years he had a global excuse, the economy; no denying the economy has been weak, but that’s a fact, not an action plan. To me it just seemed like a lack of commitment; a lack of commitment to the company, but mostly to one’s own success.
I have no issues with reps who are committed, as witnessed by their actions, not just words, and come up short, as long as they have the discipline commitment and supporting actions that will help them change and improve. But when you have someone who is not willing to lift a finger to change their reality, especially after they made a deal of it, were provided a solution, and then failed to take action.
While some may argue that commitment is an intangible and cannot be trained effected by a third party, I don’t believe that to be a fact. Just look at athletes, or an extreme example for sales, but nonetheless relevant, the army. Discipline that needs to be followed, or there will be real consequences.
In the context of sales, you can easily sit down with your manager or mentor, and work a plan of action based on your role, targets, strengths and weaknesses. Yet many sales people don’t, I have written in the past about the fact that many don’t even bother working backwards from their goals to understand what it will take to get there in concrete terms.
There are specific actions one can take to understand what specific actions need to be taken, in what proportion, and with whom, in order to achieve success. This will help you understand the source(s) of your success, challenges and opportunities in realising it, and from that develop an action plan that will be executed based on the inputs and goals. There are all kinds of tools and templates available, some free, some software that has to be bought, or you can contact me for some of the things we use. But it does require that you make the commitment, time, energy and action to act. But I can assure you that it will take a lot less time, energy and effort than continuing to come up with excuses that do not change the results; and at the same time still leave one unable to enjoy their craft and resulting success.
What’s in Your Pipeline?
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