This blog is not about making excuses, and it certainly isn’t suggesting that you should accept excuses. There isn’t a fine line between an excuse and a reason. They are two totally different things.
Excuse-makers find reasons that things aren’t working the way that they want them to work. If I fail to get a contract, I might blame my competition rather than the fact that I did not do enough to differentiate myself from that competition. If I lose a long-term customer because my company shipped a product or vital part incorrectly, I might blame the company, rather than my inability to correctly manage expectations and fix problems when they occur.
But if I have no control over something, and that’s the reason that I am not able to do my job, that is not an excuse. If it is raining outside, I cannot get a suntan in my backyard that day. Some circumstances simply make it impossible to succeed, no matter how much effort is put in.
If I have to spend 20% of my week attending sales meetings, following up on my own orders, entering data that will never be used into a CRM, managing my accounts, and being copied on every email conversation, I might not have time to do what is really important to the business: growing sales. And as a salesperson, there would not be much that I could do about it.
As managers, we want to make sure that we know what everyone is doing, so we invent infrastructure that lets us inform, track, and meet with our salespeople as much as possible. But if we are taking their focus off of getting new business, we are taking away their clarity.
Your role is to declutter the minds of your salespeople. Make their lives simple. Hitting a golf ball is about getting the club to meet the ball. Catching a football is about focusing on the little X at the end of the football. And just like in sports, our goal is to simplify the process for our people in order to allow them to succeed.
Give your team only what they need, nothing more. Ask them for the minimum, not everything that you would like to know. Focus their territory on clients or on geography that take away clutter. Streamline their roles and responsibilities so that they are focused on getting new business, rather than making them take care of everything. Give them a sales process that is easy to follow.
When you eliminate the reasons for the excuses, there isn’t much left to think about except growing sales. So if you are good at complex but terrible at simple, find yourself an expert in decluttering the minds and responsibilities of a sales team. The benefits will be clear.