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Top NINE Excuses For Not Making Quota

Below are ten "reasons" that sales reps give when they don't make their numbers. However, only one of them is a real reason, the other nine are just excuses. Can you spot the valid reason hidden amidst the excuses?


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An excuse is something that comes up, after the fact, to explain away a failure. A reason is a valid cause that needs to be addressed before anything changes. With that in mind, let's go over the excuses:
  • #1 = EXCUSE: "My territory doesn't contain enough potential customers." Why it's an excuse: Did you call on everyone? Did you network? Did you dig deep? While it's true that some territories are better than others, 99 times out of 100, the customers are there if you look for them.
  • #2 = EXCUSE: "Prospects want the feature our offering doesn't have." Why it's an excuse: If your product lacks a feature, you need to sell around that feature. And why did you get into a feature war anyway? You should be selling the benefits, not the features.
  • #3 = EXCUSE: "We're not offering new customers big enough discounts." Why it's an excuse: Unless the pricing of your product is completely out of whack, you need to create the perception of value so that customers are happy to pay what you're asking.
  • #4 = EXCUSE: "The competition has twice as many reps in the field." Why it's an excuse: Only one rep can get the business and that rep should have been you. Competitors that have multiple reps often end up selling against themselves anyway.
  • #6 = EXCUSE: "Marketing has been handing us terrible leads." Why it's an excuse: If you can't get good leads from marketing, then you need to find your own leads. Get on the phone and start networking. If you don't have a network, start cold-calling.
  • #7= EXCUSE: "The economy is so bad, nobody is buying anything." Why it's an excuse: Unless economic activity has ground to a complete halt, there is still business to be had out there. You may need to get creative, but it's possible to prosper.
  • #8 = EXCUSE: "Everybody was away from their desks for the holidays." Why it's an excuse: Why did you wait until the last minute to close the deal? You should have accelerated opportunities to avoid end-of-quarter holidays.
  • #9 = EXCUSE: "There is currently a glut of product in the market." Why it's an excuse: This is actually the same as the "bad territory" excuse. It means that you're not digging hard enough to find the business that's out there.
  • #10 = EXCUSE: "The big account that didn't close ate up my time." Why it's an excuse: That big account looked likely to have a big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but you shouldn't have neglected your other accounts.
Which leads us to the only real REASON in the list. In fact, that REASON is the primary reason that lies behind the failures that the excuses above attempted to explain away:
  • #5 = REASON: "I don't know how to prospect, develop or close." Why it's a reason: A lack of sales skills is the root reason behind all the excuses offered above. You need sales skills in order to move any real sales opportunity forward, which is why ongoing sales training and coaching must be a key element of every sales organization.
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