Excuses from Sales RepsFrom time to time all sales managers will have at least one rep who is under-performing and not demonstrating the right attitude. Considering the amount of time and money it takes to find and develop each rep, it serves to be patient with a slumping rep especially when they are demonstrating the right behaviors, but successful sales leaders are vigilant in attacking excuses, since a culture of excuses is kryptonite for sales performance (see also The Language Used by Leading Sales Teams).

Over the years I have certainly heard every excuse in the book from sales reps that are missing targets. Often I have been able to reset the rep’s attitude and get things back on track with a brief chat or two. But when my reps have consistently given me excuses about why they are unable to perform, been unable or unwilling to commit to the work that will lead to success or have an attitude that sucks, I have known it is time to part ways.

Unacceptable Excuses

Below is a list of unacceptable excuses from sales reps that I’ve never tolerated as they surely compromise any efforts to create a culture of success:

  1. “I am waiting for…. ” – Time kills deals and sales reps who are always waiting for things to happen don’t close a whole lot of business.
  2. “I didn’t pursue that sale because I wouldn’t get comped on it” – No doubt there is a strong relationship between commissionable goals and activities, but reps spend their time thinking about how to help customers lead to customers who buy a lot.
  3. “Our prices are too high” – Customers don’t buy on price, they buy when they trust the rep and feel they can depend on the supplier, but they are happy to imply that the competition is offering a better price. The best reps don’t accept this and win business by selling on value.
  4. “Our product/service is not good enough”  – There is no such thing as a perfect product or service. In fact, most products and services that are purchased are absolutely imperfect so assuming that the base customer needs are met, it is up to the sales person to build the relationships and trust with the customer and position the offering in a way that wins the business.
  5. “That’s not my job” – Great sales reps do whatever it takes to win the business and if that means doing someone else’s job, they’ll do it.
  6. “The quota is unachievable” – it is always easier to refute this excuse when other reps are hitting target, but the best reps consistently prove that where there is a will, there is a way.

A culture of success is critically important to high sales performance. Don’t let these types of excuses stand in the way of creating the right culture on your sales team.

To your success!


Photo Credit: KROCKY MESHKIN via Compfight cc


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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