“If only I had a qualified lead!”
“I get too many leads!”
“I don’t get enough leads!”
“Salespeople never close out the leads!”
“No one likes the CRM system, so no one uses it!”
From my perspective, having interviewed hundreds of managers on SLMA Radio, and managed 20+ sales and marketing teams (interim management) through the years, it’s the excuses that drag down organizations. Excuses from both employees and managers can fill a book, and most are bogus.
I take my leadership lessons wherever I can find them. I recently read an article in USA Today: Ohio State runs over Oregon 42-20 to capture national title. While I’m not a sports fan, I am a leadership fan. And Urban Meyer, coach of the Buckeyes, whose team won over Oregon last weekend, has a lot to teach about building a team and having zero tolerance for excuses.
Meyer was recently quoted: “I think we all learn lessons through our coaching career, and if you start making excuses, players respond with excuses. If I hear it from a coach, it's a bad day. If I hear it from a player, we have to get it fixed. Excuses cause problems. You hear 'next man up' all the time, but how many actually do it?”
We hear similar excuses in sales and marketing all the time:
“If only the list were better…”
“If the product was better…”
“If the CRM system was easier to use…”
The “if” word is the excuse word. When you hear it, you know what follows is an excuse, and the person speaking is most likely avoiding personal responsibility.
Cardale Jones (Ohio State’s quarterback) said, "It's the way he (Meyer) motivates guys; the way he gets the best out of guys. He was a zero tolerance type of guy and built that culture from the ground up, and we knew we had something special."
Ok, so you’re convinced that excuses are not good and zero tolerance, when applied with motivation, can inspire a team. So how do you do it?
This is where I’d start:
- No more excuses from salespeople: all sales leads will be followed up until the prospect buys or dies.
- No more excuses from marketers: lead generation programs will be measured for ROI.
- Lead generation programs will be called Revenue Generation programs.
- Every marketing activity that costs the company in the name of creating revenue will be measured.
- Zero tolerance for non-performers. If they consistently prove they can’t sell, find someone who can.
- Tools and training for marketers are as important as tools and training for salespeople.
- Data isn’t where it’s at; it’s what the data tells you and the actions you take based on the data that make a difference. Data is useless if it doesn’t lead to action. Listen to the SLMA Radio Alight Analytics interview from July 1, 2014. How to stop wasting marketing dollars on non-revenue tactics.
- Sales and marketing teams need leaders who can build a team and hold individuals and the team personally accountable.
I recently read 20 Industry Sales Predictions for 2015 from Velocify. I liked what these four industry leaders (out of the 20) had to say, that echoed some of these thoughts:
#2 Data-driven, socially educated and empowered sales teams: Koka Sexton, Social Selling Visionary
#3 The year of learning agility: Jill Konrath, Author and Keynoter
#13 Using pure analytics and data to drive sales training and coaching: Peter Ostrow, Aberdeen Group
#19 Empowering your sales reps: Nancy Nardin, Smart Selling Tools
As marketing and sales leaders, we need to learn that it all comes down to training and motivating our team members and getting the most from them.
Zach Smith, Ohio State’s wide receiver coach, said this about Urban Meyer:
The way he does it is, he gets to know them (the players); he understands how to push each individual button, but he knows how to do it as a group too. It's kind of old school, but he works on developing the total person. What does it take for you to be great? That's different for each of them, and he doesn't treat them all the same. He understands how to look at them individually and mold them from there. He's a master at it.
Can you be a master at leadership? Stop making excuses. Have zero tolerance for performance. Empower your people.
Today's blog was submitted by James Obermayer, Executive Director and CEO of the Sales Lead Management Association and President of Sales Leakage Consulting. James is a regular guest blogger with ViewPoint.