How to Inoculate Your Sales Team Against the Excuse Virus

-And Treat Managers, Salespeople, and Even CEOs Who Are Already Infected

These days, you can hardly open a newspaper, turn on the T.V., or read a magazine without seeing everyone’s new favorite four-letter word, H1N1. Not that I’m complaining; while it’s not an especially deadly virus at present, it could become a showstopper, with the right – or wrong, depending on how you look at it – mutations.

The same can’t be said for excuse-making, a behavioral virus that’s wormed its way into businesses everywhere, at every level. This particular virus doesn’t need to mutate – it’s already lethal. It’s not seasonal; it’s an affliction for all seasons. It can turn the healthiest of businesses into bedridden patients on life support. It’s airborne, too: to catch a really nasty case of it, all you need to do is listen. To spread it, just open your mouth and let it out.
And to contain it? To kill it? To prevent it from infecting your sales team and management in the first place? For that, I’ve got a three-part business Tamiflu
of my own.

Hire the Right Salespeople and Managers to Build Your Team’s Resistance to Excuse-making

Think of your star salespeople and managers as white blood cells who cruise the bloodstream of your organization, smothering excuses wherever they’re found, whether actively or passively. Actively, when they counter excuses with solutions. Passively, just by succeeding where others don’t – after all, it’s hard to say you can’t when others obviously can.

Like white blood cells, you need a sufficient count of the right salespeople and managers to clamp down on nascent disease before it becomes a full blown catastrophe (I know an overactive immune system is not such a good thing when it comes to H1N1, but humor me). So how do you inject more of them into your team? Identify the traits you want to emphasize in your organization. Find candidates with those traits in abundance by using proven assessment tools (and no, an interview is not a particularly useful assessment tool, as I’ve written elsewhere). Hire them. Watch excuse-making dwindle.

Turn Your Organization Into an Excuse-Free Clean Room

This is the business equivalent of spraying Lysol everywhere: simply stop accepting excuses. When an excuse can’t find a place to stick and fester, it dies. Kill it even faster by asking what the excuse maker would do differently, if he or she couldn’t make the excuse – which they can’t.

Know What Sales Health Looks Like

Define expectations, measure performance against them, and hold employees responsible for results. Sound simple? It is, but you’d be surprised how many businesses fall short in this area. If you don’t know what constitutes a healthy organization for you, though, how will you know when you’re sick? How will you know when you’re better? And what defense do you have against excuses?

Just as in disease of the biological kind, it’s important to treat the core malady of excuse-making, rather than just the symptoms, which range from poor morale to a lack of sales that will put you down for good. But with the right people, the right environment, and the right metrics in place, you can beat the excuse virus and look forward to a healthier bottom line in every season.

Author's Bio: 

Bio: Danita Bye

Nationally recognized sales management and leadership expert Danita Bye has built her reputation on building and inspiring intentional, no excuse, high-performance sales teams that deliver bottom line results. With her unique Fortune-100 turned-entrepreneur perspective, Danita helps CEOs and company presidents take their national and international businesses to the next level. Her excuse-free approach to sales management, combined with her leadership acumen, enables sales staff and sales management to increase sales, boost profitability and create predictable revenue streams, all while reducing sales costs.

As a 10-year veteran of the Xerox Corporation, Danita consistently achieved award winning sales performance before leaving Xerox to become an equity partner and national sales manager for Minneapolis-based Micro-Tech Hearing Instruments, where she increased annual revenues from $300,000 to $10 million in just seven years. Danita has authored articles in Upsize Magazine, The Hearing Review, the Star Tribune, and Business Journal, where she was recently honored as one of the its Top 25 Women to Watch. Danita also featured as a guest on “The Ruthless Entrepreneur television show” which will begin airing on Oxogen Network in 2010. Her new book, Sales Management in the No Excuse Zone, is due for release in 2010.
Danita can be contacted at or 612-267-3320
© Copyright 2009, Danita Bye Sales Growth Specialists, All Rights