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Are you playing the sales blame game?

Liz Wendling //June 21, 2011//

Are you playing the sales blame game?

Liz Wendling //June 21, 2011//

There seems to be no shortage of people and things to blame for poor sales and lack of revenue. Business owners and sales people who are choosing to play the blame game are quickly finding out that this is one game where there are no winners.

Every successful sale is the outcome of a series of consistent behaviors and actions. Consistent behavior plus sales activity equals results. This is called sales accountability and if you do not have it, you need to get it.

A recent survey revealed that most people view accountability as something that happens to them or is inflicted upon them and they choose to perceive it as a heavy burden to carry. They think about accountability as a concept or principle to be applied only when something goes wrong or when someone else is trying to pinpoint blame.

Many people define accountability this way, so it is no wonder they spend so much time explaining and justifying poor results. Business owners and sales people are no different. Lack of sales accountability produces dismal results and excuse-making decreases sales. No one wins when you suit up to play the blame game.

When sales people encounter a less than hoped for result, they begin preparing their explanation and start reciting the typical tired overused excuses. Here a just a few of the many hundreds I hear sales people use every day:

• The economy is tough, companies are not spending money right now
• It is impossible to compete when our competitors are giving away product
• Our market’s shrinking, and everyone’s cutting prices
• If my managers would get their act together, we would be able to meet our goals
• Our advertising is ineffective so our leads are terrible
• I cannot make my numbers, the market is too soft.

As a result, thousands of people in hundreds of organizations expend their valuable time and energy justifying their lack of performance instead of focusing on ways to improve it. They are learning to become adept at playing the blame game, covering their tail and crafting their versions of what went wrong and why. It is sad and difficult to watch grown adults choose to play the” blame” game instead of the “accountability” game.

Many weave these excuses so deeply into the fabric of the sales process that they resort to them without really thinking about what they are really saying. To overcome the impulse to blame, sales people and business owners must abandon the “who-done-it” definition of accountability.

Almost without exception, whenever something goes wrong in the sales process or a sale is lost, business owners and sales people often start playing the “who-done-it” game, a subtle variation of the blame game. They immediately begin searching out the person or situation to blame for the failure.
Those who play the game seek only to make sure the spotlight shifts to someone else while they dive for the shelter of excuses, explanations, justifications and disassociations.

A better definition of accountability is to make a shift in the attitude of how you view things. Continually asking “what else can I do to rise above my circumstances and achieve the sales results I desire?” It is the process of seeing it, owning it, solving it, controlling it and just doing it. It requires a level of ownership that includes doing what is necessary and focusing on proactive accountability, instead of reactive excuses.

Creating a disciplined culture in which everyone takes personal responsibility for achieving results and meeting performance levels will separate the winners from losers. Losers talk about why past efforts went awry and why future actions will not work, while winners think creatively, take action and make changes. Are you winning or losing? Changing or blaming? The choice is always yours. Remember, it’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell.

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