Do you ever get frustrated by the reasons why your salespeople can’t or don’t meet their goals? Do you feel like you are nagging them to sell more despite all the reasons why they tell you they can’t?

Here’s some helpful advice:

Quit allowing your salespeople to make any excuses.

Granted, it’s not a revolutionary idea . . . but you have to give yourself permission to actually do it. If you fail to do so, your salespeople won’t grow, change or improve. They will just stay the same. And, consequently, you will be frustrated and sales will suffer. Before you know it, you’ll be in a vortex of dysfunction. Maybe you are already there.


Managers need to buckle down to offset the negative impact of “excusers” gone wild

In our work with clients we evaluate whether or not an individual salesperson will take full responsibility for sales outcomes or whether they tend to make excuses. When we are working with sales leaders and managers who are very good at setting expectations and holding their people accountable to the right behaviors, we don’t worry about the sales team’s habits too much in this regard. A good manager may be able to offset an individual salesperson’s tendency to make excuses.

However, if we have sales managers who are not that good with regard to holding the line on accountability or are bashful about delivering the tough love, then we get a little concerned. We know that they will accept salespeople’s excuses and there won’t be growth and likely won’t be a culture of overachievement. Results will suffer.

Literally, the act of making an excuse excuses the individual from responsibility for the outcome.

Do not let this happen. If you do, you will be limiting the future success of a salesperson, and therefore the overall success of the sales team.

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The easiest way to avoid the excuse-making problem is to set clear expectations with regard to results (whether that is number of sales or number of demos or proposals) and ensure that each salesperson creates a plan of what they will commit to do to achieve those goals. Use the Math of Success as discussed here.

Rather than focusing only on the outcome, which allows them to argue about why they couldn’t achieve that,focus on the behaviors that produce the outcome. No legitimate reasons can be argued for not doing the activities that one agreed to do.

Speaking of allowing your sales team to make excuses, if you’ve received any especially bad ones, please share in the comments!


Here are some related posts about accountability you may be interested in: