Is Excuse Making Actually the Biggest Obstacle to Increasing Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 14, 2016 @ 07:12 AM


I've talked a lot about excuse making and the powerful difference between using your index finger, which points outward, versus your thumb, which points inward.  Today, Brandon Steiner wrote a great little article about taking responsibility.

This video provides another perspective on Excuse Making and how bad that is for sales organization.



The big thing with Excuse Making is that until the excuse making stops, nothing can change.  So if you want to see improvements in effectiveness, growth in revenue, and a jump in profit, salespeople must execute in a fundamentally different way.  When they rationalize about what happened, accepting that allows them to repeat the mistake.  When they take responsibility, you can ask what they could have done differently.  Excuse Making = Status Quo.  Responsibility = Change.

In the past two months I have been a guest on several shows and the interviews were all quite good!  You might be interested in catching:

  • The Smart Sales Pro Interview where I talked about Sales DNA
  • The Growth Institute Blog where I wrote about Why Sales Training Doesn't Work
  • Will Barron - The Salesman Red interviewed me about Why Salespeople Struggle
  • Rapid Learning Institute featured me as the sales selection and hiring expert in this Webinar on preventing hiring mistakes.
  • I wrote about the Benefits of Getting your Sales Process right on the Growth Institute Blog
  • Will Barron recently interviewed me on sales weaknesses and it was a really good interview. You can watch or listen to it here.
  • Lori Richardson recently interviewed me on similar topics too - another really good interview, that you can get here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, Sales DNA, sales excellence, excuse making

With Blown Call, Jim Joyce Succeeds at a Sales Core Competency

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 03, 2010 @ 15:06 PM

Jim Joyce and Armando GalarragaIf you're a baseball fan, you've probably heard all about Jim Joyce's horrendous call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.  It would have been just the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history.  The worst part about this baseball tragedy was that the perfect game was a sure thing!  There were two outs in the ninth inning when Galarraga induced a ground ball to first and everyone in the park and watching on television knew that would represent the final out of a perfect game.  And that's when Joyce became the  focus of the game by calling the runner, Jason Donald, safe.

The certain perfect game is just like the sure things that your salespeople report. "We're gonna get this business - it's a slam dunk."  Or, "Everything has been agreed to - just waiting for final approval."  Or, "We're the only ones they're talking to - it's ours for the taking!"  And isn't.

What hasn't been talked about quite as much is what Jim Joyce did after the game.  In the rarest of all events, he apologized.  Are you kidding?  Umpires never admit they made a bad call or got a call wrong.  But Joyce said, "It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the [stuff] out of it, I just cost that kid a perfect game."  Wow.

How many of your salespeople take responsibility when they screw up?  When they don't learn about a competitor's involvement?  When they don't learn how little their prospect will actually spend?  When they don't realize they're being used simply to justify staying with the incumbent?  When they didn't uncover the compelling reasons to buy?  When they didn't question a put-off?  When they didn't close a closable opportunity?  When they lost the business?

Taking responsibility is the start to changing behaviors and outcomes.  As long as your salespeople are allowed to make excuses nothing will ever change.  When you get your salespeople to say, "My fault - I wasn't effective enough", things will change because they'll be forced to ask the next question, "So what could I have done differently?"

We know what Jim Joyce could have done differently.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, Sales Accountability, excuse making, Jim Joyce, Blown Call, blown sale, lost sale

Accountability - 2nd of the 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 12, 2009 @ 06:11 AM

This is the 2nd in the series of the Top 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions.


In its simplest form, sales accountability consists of the following:

  • Holding salespeople accountable to something measurable - metrics - on a daily basis
  • Being more demanding - being firmer and tougher
  • Eliminating Excuse Making - people take responsibility for their results
  • No more under achieving - everyone achieves and over achieves or else...

Here's a video of me discussing Excuse Making...


Accountability is an ongoing function and takes place on the following time line:

  • in a daily huddle
  • no more than 5-10 minutes
  • with your entire team (in person or by teleconference)
  • using the power of peer pressure
  • everyone reports on the metrics on which they are being held accountable (it isn't necessary for everyone to be reporting on the same metrics)

Yesterday, on this week's edition of Meet the Sales Experts, my guest, Bob Waks, not only talked about passion and commitment, but his theme throughout the show was on building strong processes and systems and using them to hold people accountable. Click here to contact Bob.

I have written on accountability before. 

Read this article to learn how you can quickly change sales behaviors by using my four-step accountability method. 

Read this article for a case history of a client using accountability to change sales performance

This article illustrates where accountabilty must be used in the sales process

Read this article for an example of executive excuse-making for not using accountability

Read this article to see how much time sales managers spend on holding salespeople accountable (hint - not enough!). 

This article discusses the role of accountability in why new salespeople fail.

And finally, read this article to understand the importance of accountability in the context of sales training, coaching and development.

If you are going to focus on just one of the 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions and hope to realize an improvement in sales, Accountability is the single function that will help you accomplish it.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management functions, Sales Accountability, excuse making, sales mangaement

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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