In sales, people inside your company are going to need things from you. While you must be a team player, it’s equally important that you spend your time on the very few tasks that allow you to create and win new business. The requests and constant communication are like death by a thousand cuts regarding your productivity. You are going to need to say no to small things if you want to do big things.
Here is a list of handy excuses.
Email: I am sorry I haven’t seen your email yet. I just finished my prospecting block, and to make sure I am effective, I shut down all distractions, just like I would if I were in a client meeting. If there is ever an emergency, you can interrupt me. Otherwise, I don’t open my email until I complete my time block.
Creating success in sales requires a deep commitment to a small number of activities. The more consistent your actions, and the more effective you are, and the better your results. Consistently blocking your time ensures you do the work, and removing all distractions improves your effectiveness. Treat your blocked time the same way you treat a client meeting and remove all distractions.
Meetings: You scheduled this meeting after I had already scheduled an appointment with one of my dream clients. It’s the first meeting, and it has taken me a long time to secure it. I don’t want to reschedule and risk any conflicts that might push this call into the future. Can I miss this meeting and catch up with you later?
There are not many things more important than the first meeting with a prospective client, especially one that was difficult to acquire. You should try your best not to book meetings when you have internal meetings, but if faced with the choice of an internal meeting or a client meeting, ask forgiveness. You are trying to move results closer, and you should try to avoid allowing clients to push meetings further into the future—too many bad things can happen.
Projects: Please forgive me, but as much as I would like to be part of the task force, I am laser-focused on my goals. I promised myself that I wouldn’t allow anything to take me from what’s most important to reaching my goals, and I don’t want to break my promise to myself. Thanks for thinking of me, and I know you guys will come up with something great.
You want to be a contributing member of the team, but you have to first decide what you will contribute. There are always going to be initiatives and projects that require volunteers. As flattering as it is to be asked to contribute, you should resist the offers, which is difficult to do if you want to be valuable. Remember that your greatest contribution is winning big deals.
Operational Problems: As much as I would like to solve this for the client, I am not the right person to retype an invoice, track down their lost order, or solve the problem they are having with the product. If any large challenges are executing, I am happy to help, but I have to stay focused on creating and winning new opportunities.
Don’t mistake this as not doing anything about client problems. You own the outcomes you sell your clients, not the transactions. You want to allow your teams to do the work they are responsible for so you can do your job. That said, if the client has a serious issue, one that will harm the outcomes you promised them, you are going to have to engage.
Legal Review: I’m so sorry to ask you for help with such a short timeline, but the deal I am working on is competitive, and one of the things that I had to agree to was to be able to get them started sooner than usual. Can I trouble you to give me a quick turnaround on this contract? I am happy to get the client’s team to get their counsel on a call if that’s faster for you.
I don’t necessarily believe time kills deals, but I understand the sentiment. One of the challenges of the sales conversation’s nonlinear nature is that you can go slower than you want only to have to rush later. When you need something from your team to move forward, apologize for not giving them more time, and explain why you need help. Promise to do better in the future.
Preferential Treatment: This is a brand new client, and they have been disappointed by our competitors in the past. They are exactly the kind of client we want, and we have an opportunity to take the business from our competitor. I know that this can be difficult for you, but can I ask you to give them a lot of attention at the start of this relationship so they can feel the difference? Can you let me know how I can help you make them feel special?
Sometimes you need a little help pulling deals over the line. You should always make deposits in the relationships you have with your internal teams, so you can ask for preferential treatment when you need their help. You win with your team. Make sure you take care of them.
Use these positive excuse-making talk tracks to improve your ability to focus on the work of creating and winning new opportunities.
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Filed under: Sales