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Unfortunately, I had to end this little experiment after the third, six-foot dry erase board got completely filled up within two weeks time. At that point, I had bigger problems to deal with and some housekeeping to contend with; top grading.


There are dozens of reasons why salespeople fail. In one company owned, I even went so far as to develop an “excuse board” when I inherited a team of salespeople who were notorious for their laziness and keen ability to waste their time. I thought it would be a great way to sift through their excuses quickly and build some accountability within a culture where it was desperately lacking, in a fun and light way, of course.

This sales team (did I mention that I did not hire them?) spent more time coming up with creative reasons as to why they aren’t selling or why they can’t go out on an appointment than they did in taking the actions that would generate immediate income for them.

Here’s how the excuse board worked. Every time a salesperson came up with a new excuse, I wrote it on the board. Once the excuse was written on the board and visible for everyone to see, that particular excuse could not be used again by anyone. Now that we were tracking their excuses, (talk about another useful field in our CRM or sales reports!) this prevented every salesperson from using their excuses more than once. It also prevented them from coming up with excuses that someone else used!

Unfortunately, I had to end this little experiment after the third, six-foot dry erase board got completely filled up within two weeks time. At that point, I had bigger problems to deal with and some housekeeping to contend with; top grading.

To laser in on some of the most common reasons why salespeople fail, I’ve made a checklist for you to review and see if any of these behaviors sound familiar.

Salespeople will fail because they:

1. Blame others for their mistakes or inability to perform.
2. Lack the necessary level of persistence.
3. Do not believe in the product they are selling.
4. Do not commit to lifelong learning.
5. Fail to listen and learn from those around them.
6. Lack understanding of the industry or product knowledge.
7. Fail to develop the essential attributes or skills required to become a masterful salesperson.
8. Allow their ego to get in the way of change. (They try to do it their way and play by their rules.)
9. Are out of their comfort zone and fail to adjust.
10. Cannot cope with change.
11. Are not committed to creating a better possibility for themselves and are stuck in their head.
12. Forget that the objective of selling is to deliver value to each client.
13. Only care about what’s in it for them and how much money they can make.
14. Do not demonstrate the level of patience required for meeting the demands of some clients.
15. Choose to fail and simply give up.
16. Do not ask for the prospect’s business because they feel they shouldn’t have to.
17. Do not ask for help. (Never invested the time to see what the top producers are doing, how long it took them and the path they took to get there.)
18. Do not invest the adequate amount of time in their own training, coaching and development.
19. Are driven by fear rather than developing their personal vision and measurable goals that honor their priorities and keeps them in their integrity.
20. Are more driven for results than driven by a proven process (results driven vs. process driven.)

Instead of tapping into this list in search of additional excuses that justify performance, (I’m sure we can come up with several more pages of reasons why salespeople fail) use this as a checklist to uncover the areas you could continually improve upon.

Become fully accountable for your success. Be honest with yourself about what you are great at doing as well as what you know you need to improve upon.

Once you align your sales process around your strengths and values, you can then start developing the additional skills and processes that will result in a well organized and balanced selling and closing approach that works for you consistently.

About the author

Keith Rosen

Keith Rosen

Keith Rosen is fanatical about your success. He is a globally recognized authority on…

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