Are We Managing Excuses?

by Susan Novicki

Excuses can be an easy way for people to walk away from tremendous opportunities.  If something looks too difficult, or a challenge looks too daunting, it is easy to use an excuse for not taking on the task.  We all use excuses at some point in time and we hear excuses all the time from people we work with and from clients and potential prospects.  But the excuse is really a reason for not stepping up to get something done.

“99% of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”

George Washington Carver

Just last week I was working with a client and we were on the phone with a Regional Marketing Manager who told us he “didn’t have any money”.  Do you think we left it at that and said “well ok thank you for your time” or do we challenge his statement in a professional and direct way by asking questions and trying to understand what he is trying to accomplish? Forget about the money at this point – what are his responsibilities and initiatives and how is he trying to accomplish them?   And remember, it’s not just about increasing sales.  What else is he trying to do to engage his customers and create a call to action?  Many times we have not established enough credibility with the person we are talking to and instead we jump into a conversation trying to sell them something.  Something that we don’t even know is the answer to his objectives.  We are pushing products instead of asking thoughtful and provocative questions and listening to what the decision-maker is saying to understand their needs right now.  And the excuses flow, “the regional doesn’t have any money so I could not get them to move forward”.  Many times the money miraculously appears when we have drilled down and unearthed a true need.

Alternately, salespeople that I work with will often tell me that they “ran out of time to make calls this week” or they “had no time to work a lead” and have “had no time to landscape and find decision-makers”.  These comments are the biggest excuses of all – and many times this is because the person does not find a lead credible,  are afraid to make the call, don’t know how to initiate the call, or are not prepared to make the call.  When a salesperson has taken a lead, researched it, found decision-makers to call, and created a valid business reason for making the call, he or she is excited and confident in their ability to help the client.  Somehow the time is made to initiate the call.  Preparation creates confidence and confidence creates success.  Excuses fly out the window.

We can help people we manage by working with sellers to break down the lead – looking at why it is a prospect, what we can do to help them, who are we going to call as a key decision-maker, what we are going to say to establish credibility and initiate a conversation to get a homework assignment and close business and generate revenue.  Excuses are gone.

Help to manage excuses.  Alleviate the need for an excuse by working together to create success.

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