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Outsmarting Excuses from the Sales Team

No one likes to take the blame when things go wrong. So when it becomes clear that we aren’t going to measure up to expectations, we start looking for excuses.

Sometimes, those excuses are obviously not valid: “My dog ate my homework.” “My alarm didn’t go off.”

Other times, the excuses might have some basis in reality: “I got stuck in traffic.” “I got sick and can’t come into work.”

When you work in pricing, it’s pretty common to hear excuses from the sales team. And by “pretty common,” we mean that this is absolutely going to happen.

So how are you going to deal with excuses?

You could just wait to hear what lame reason the sales team offers up for missing their forecast. And then you could point out the inconsistencies in their logic and watch them flounder while they try to explain what happened.

But if you wait for an excuse to materialize, it’s already to late. The team has already missed their numbers, and you can’t do much about it.

Instead, it’s much better to get ahead of the problem. We recommend a three-step process that we’ve found to be very effective through our research:

  1. Anticipate: Identify the possibilities in advance, away from the heat of the battle, as objectively as you can. If you are planning to roll out a new prices or pricing structure, consider how the sales team might react. They might express concerns about the complexity of the new structure or the potential impact on their relationships with clients. By anticipating these objections, you can prepare to address them effectively–or even modify your structure to preempt their concerns.
  2. Eliminate: Identify the themes that could be legitimate and figure out how to take them off the table. In the case of a new pricing structure, you might be able to simplify it furtheror provide training to help sales reps understand and communicate it to clients. By addressing these concerns, you make it more difficult for the sales team to justify any resistance.
  3. Mitigate: For issues that can’t be entirely eliminated, find ways to minimize their impact. If the sales team is worried about the effect of the new pricing model on client relationships, you can provide them with data showing how similar changes have been successful in the past or offer support in communicating the changes to clients. By mitigating these concerns, you can ease the transition and ensure that the sales team is on board with the new pricing approach.

We cover this process in much greater detail in the webinar on Neutralizing the Sales Team’s Excuses. It also uncovers many of the most common explanations you are likely to hear, and it offers several mitigation strategies for dealing with all kinds of scenarios.

Remember, the goal here isn’t just to point out how bad the sales team’s excuses are. Your goal is take those excuses out of play altogether so that improved pricing outcomes are a natural result of the systems and processes you’ve put in place. Give it a try and we’re pretty sure you’ll see better collaboration and results.

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