“Time is tight.” “The market is tough.” “Budgets are being cut.”
Being a sales rep these days isn't easy. 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? 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.”
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 business.”
Sales manager: “We need you to be out there hunting new business and not just taking care of existing accounts!”
The better response Help your sales reps gain more control over their time and results. Encourage them to better manage their time by creating proactive monthly plans together, which should enable them to service existing clients, complete admin tasks 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
Sales rep: “Our prices are too high so it’s difficult to close deals.”
Sales manager: “Then, you’ll have to be more creative.”
The better response “You’re too expensive” is the number one sales objection. When you hear it, you know that you haven’t properly communicated your value proposition. So how can you help your rep to deal with this common objection? Discuss with him the current situation of one of their prospects and see together the ROI of your solution, how it could help that prospect reach their goals.
In general: help your rep to cultivate a new mindset where prospects move away from thinking in terms of “expensive” or “cheap” and focus instead on the long-term value your product or service could bring for their business.
3. No interest
Sales rep: “Everybody I call doesn't seem interested in attending to me.”
Sales manager: “Then you have to make more calls.”
The better response Instead of pushing your reps to spend more time dialing, encourage them to do more research on their prospects. Browse through the prospects' LinkedIn profile and the company website to get a better idea of their latest releases, products, mission statements for better context to craft a more personalised sales approach to obtain the appointment.
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. Consider investing in the LinkedIn Sales Navigator to increase their prospecting chances.
8. Lack of credibility
Sales rep: “People see me as just one of the many sales reps that contact them.”
Sales manager: “You have to convince them to trust you.”
The better response Sit down with your sales rep to craft a social selling plan on LinkedIn together. This helps to build their reputation, establish credibility, and eventually grow their network. Encourage them to fill out their LinkedIn profiles completely, take part in conversations within your target market, and engage with prospects by commenting, liking, and sharing their content.
9. Different market opportunities
Sales rep: “There aren’t as many opportunities in the market now, unlike the German market.”
Sales manager: “Find out what your German sales reps are doing differently from you.”
The better response Instead of sending your sales rep on a private chat with his colleague(s), include a short session in your sales meetings to quickly remind your team of the current operations and goals. During these sessions, encourage your team members to share any existing concerns and challenges, as well as bounce ideas and advice off each other.
10. No responses
Sales rep: “My contacts aren’t responding to my emails.”
Sales manager: “You have to be persistent and keep trying until you reach them.”
The better response Not all prospects like to be contacted the same way. Some may prefer email, while others have their inboxes so full that LinkedIn may be the best way to reach them. Work with your sales reps to discover areas of improvements in their prospecting methods. Encourage him/her to branch out and establish multiple points of contact.
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.