I once heard a sales motivational speaker talk about excuses salespeople make for not selling. He had a routine that went something like this.
You can never sell on Monday, people are just getting back to work, and they don’t want to be bothered with talking to a salesperson. They will get aggravated if you try to reach them on Monday.
Don’t ever try to sell on Tuesday, that’s the day most companies have their operations meetings (really?), and they don’t want to see you on Tuesday as everybody is in meetings.
Wednesday is not a bad day to sell but be careful since every other salesperson knows this and is also trying to see potential customers on Wednesday. The lobbies are too full.
Thursday is not a bad day but go early especially during certain times of the year as buyers will leave early on Thursday to start the weekend.
And certainly, Friday is a terrible day to try to talk business as everyone is in “weekend mode.” So don’t even bother to see people on Friday.
Of course, the audience laughed at the absurdity of this. And then I noticed the laughing got a little hollow and then stopped altogether as people in the audience realized that they had often used these same “rules for inactivity”.
We can always find reasons not to do something. And working with sales people for the past twenty years I have heard just about every reason why they cannot go out and sell.
Here are a few of my personal favorites:
“I don’t sell on Friday, that’s the day I do my paperwork.”
What paperwork? Your expense report? That weekly status report that you’re supposed to be working on every day of the week?
“I can’t get out and sell because I have to stay in the factory to make sure that my products are built correctly. If I leave they will not do it right.”
And here is one popular with salespeople right after they join a company. “The web site is terrible. I am going to have to help work on the web site before I start calling on customers.” Or you can substitute literature, hand outs, social media, trade booths, business cards or whatever other marketing materials that the salesperson does not deem adequate enough for him or her to get out and sell right now.
So, we get it. You don’t really want to go out and sell, do you? Oh, you like having the title of salesperson, you like that cachet that it gives you. But then actually the “doing” part of sales?… well not so much.
The funny thing is that the really successful salespeople don’t care a whit about this stuff. They never ever utter excuses like this. They just get out and sell. They find a way.
In fact, the really great salespeople will use their weaker competitors’ excuses as steps of the ladder to their own success. A great salesperson will look at the fact that others do not want to call on customers Mondays and Fridays as a way to succeed by actually calling on customer on these specific days knowing that their competitors will be safely ensconced in their home factories watching to make sure that their product is built correctly and driving their operations people crazy with their interference.
I’ll say it again, salespeople are supposed to sell. They are supposed to get in touch with people they don’t know and convince them to buy something they don’t want…yet. The salesperson’s job is to make sure that they will be convincing enough, do their job well enough to get to know those people better and get them to change their minds and buy what they did not think they wanted.
And that ladies and gentlemen is what salespeople are supposed to do!
They are not supposed to stand around wringing their hands because they cannot visit customers because of Covid. They are supposed to find a way to work around that.
They are not supposed to sit around, drinking their fourth cup of coffee of the morning, talking to other salespeople and complaining that those “darn millennials do not want to see them and so they are not able to sell to them.”
Just to aggravate the heck out of these folks I will bring up the story of H. Ross Perot whose first job was in sales for IBM and who was so good and innovative at what he did that he made and then surpassed his annual quota by the end of the first month (that was an annual quota folks, he did his required twelve months of sales in one month.)
But I am not sure why I bother because as soon as I finish telling my story, the excuses will come flying at me like rotten tomatoes being slung at a bad actor.
Things are different now.
He didn’t have millennials to deal with.
He had a great product to sell.
IBM sold itself!
And I of course don’t buy it. I just point out that old Ross would have found a way. Because great salespeople always find a way. It’s only common sense.