Things mediocre sales reps say:
"Turns out they don't have budget after all."
"I had a great call with a customer! Not sure about next steps, though."
"Can I discount even more?"
"Where do I find the collateral again?"
— Jason ✨BeKind✨ Lemkin ⚫️ (@jasonlk) August 3, 2020
Sales is hard. And not only is it hard, but you shouldn’t be closing every deal you are in. Why? Well, if you’re closing every deal you are in, you’re not being invited to the deals where your product has competition. Where it has gaps. You aren’t being invited to where you’ll want to be to grow, if you magically close every deal you are in.
And closing every deal you are in is also generally a sign you aren’t doing enough marketing.
Still, the best sales reps close so much more than mediocre ones. And what you hear a lot from the mediocre ones are … excuses. And these excuses generally are true, so it can be confusing to hear them. But it’s part of the job of sales to try to push past them, to position your app as a real solution to their problem, even if not a perfect solution. So I thought I’d put together a list of the common ones. Hear them a bit from a rep, that’s fair.
But hear these excuses too often from a rep, and you have the wrong rep:
- “The competition is better at [something]”. OK. But aren’t you also better at something, too?
- “They said maybe next quarter/year/etc.”. Fair enough. But the art of sales is creating urgency when perhaps there isn’t quite that much of it in reality.
- “No budget.” Ok. But if that’s the case … why did they reach out? Are you sure there really is no budget at all?
- “I haven’t heard anything”. Well … are you sure you’ve talked to all the stakeholders? Do you even know who all the stakeholders are? Have you added so much value during the sales process, that they’ll answer all your emails? Are you even sure they didn’t go with someone else already?
- “They aren’t taking my calls or emails.” See prior point. Have you focused on adding value … or just the transaction?
- “Too expensive for them.” Sometimes it is true. But more often, that really means you didn’t prove value.
- “The product just isn’t there.” Maybe true in many ways. But if you have 100 happy customers, of course you can get 1,000.
- “We don’t have this key feature.” Sometimes 100% true, especially in the enterprise. But there are always gaps. Is it coming later? Is it on the roadmap?
- “We don’t have this integration.” A tough one, indeed. But sales’ job is to figure out the top 1–2 you need and get the team to go build those ones.
- “The usage was low during the pilot.” That’s common. But couldn’t you have helped more, so the pilot went better?
- “The leads from marketing have gotten worse.” Probably true. But haven’t you also gotten better?
- “It’s our slow season.” Yes, there is some seasonality in SaaS. But the thing is, if you are growing at a decent clip, you won’t really see it. Growth will mask the seasonality.
- “Their CEOs are friends”. This indeed can be a tough one to get over. But most CEOs in the end will defer to their teams’ software and tools decisions — if the team really thinks you are the right choice.
- “They used the competition at their last company.” Yes, that does give the competition a leg up. But you did get into the deal.
- “He/she just prefers another vendor.” Also common. Well, did you ask for a bake-off? Did you ask at least for a free pilot of, say, 10 users to try both vendors and see which works better for them?
- “We’ll make it up next quarter for sure. The pipe is strong.”. Well.
All these excuses are “true”, or can be. They also are often excuses — especially if at least a few reps can close tons of deals anyway.
Sales guy here.. honestly the only one that is valid IMO is if product doesn’t work. If product provides material impact to the buyer/organization, everything else is an excuse.
— Alex Holt (@AlexBHolt) July 14, 2020
The art of sales is turning a few more of these No’s, or Later’s … into a Yes. And the best sales professionals are very good at it. And the best onboarding teams can often bridge gaps here.