Making Excuses instead of Sales

I’ve seen situations like that where people are making excuses instead of sales. Somebody had planned to sell something and was talking about it for a long time, and all the dominoes had to be lined up just right before they’d flick it, you know, flick one of them and get it going. And ultimately nothing happened. Sometimes we have a great idea, but then it’s like, “oh, it seems like too much work” or “I don’t want to do it,” or “I’m scared,” or whatever the deal is. And unfortunately, you’re building bridges to nowhere when you do that.

David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode co-host Jay McFarland and I will be discussing making excuses instead of sales. Welcome back, Jay.

Jay: Thank you so much, David. Such a pleasure to be here. And I’m excited about this topic. And I’m just going to be brutally honest upfront. I’m guilty of this very thing. As I’ve been involved in sales and sometimes numbers would drop, and the first thing I’m saying is, “well, it’s this,” or, “well, it’s that.”

And the truth is it, might be. And so I think it’s important to always go back and reassess what you are doing and have you changed something or has something changed in your system?

David: Yeah, it’s very easy to do. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Because whoever really wants to say ” it’s my fault?” And yet, our behavior is one of the only things that we really, truly have control over to the extent that we can get control over it, right?

We can’t control a lot of outside factors, but we can largely control what we do and what we promise to do, and then try to connect the dots between those two things.

Jay: Yeah. I remember I was in a training and they pointed out that so often when a mistake happens or say sales have a problem, we’re looking for the person to blame.

And so often it’s not a person, it’s a system. It’s something that needs to be tweaked. But it’s so easy to just pick somebody and say, you know, “you’re the problem, you solve it.”

Maybe you’re the frontline salesperson, and so you need to fix it or there are going to be consequences. And oftentimes I think that’s the wrong approach.

David: Yeah, I agree. And I think the reason that this topic even came up is I had an experience, fairly recently, where I was just sort of blindsided by someone’s ability to blame every single outside factor rather than just the fact that they essentially weren’t selling. And this is common in a lot of different businesses.

It’s common in a lot of different sales industries. A lot of times, “well, it’s the leads.” And if you ever saw Glengarry Glen Ross, “it’s the leads.” And I remember when I was first watching that movie, I was like, oh, that’s brutal. You know, it’s probably not the leads. And then you find out, in that particular movie, yeah, it was the leads, because they were giving them bad leads.

That’s really the exception, rather than the rule though. It’s the leads, it’s the market, it’s the product, it’s the supply chain. There have been a lot of really, potentially very good excuses, a lot of different things that people can blame for their lack of producing, but none of that empowers the salesperson. None of it empowers the person who is making those excuses to actually address the issues that potentially need to be addressed.

In other words, if there’s a problem with the leads, what can that person do to track down better leads? If it’s the market, are there other markets they can approach? Or are there segments of the market that they could and should be approaching? If it’s the product, are they representing the right product?

Is there another product they should be selling? So for every excuse, there is normally something that the salesperson can do to address some aspect of the problem that they’re citing as being the real issue.

Jay: Yeah, I think it’s so important what you’re talking about. Because I’ve been in a situation recently where we did a Google ad campaign and man, the leads were just coming in.

But then we looked at our close rate, and it was just miserable. And so we had to assess, is this the type of lead we want? Because we’re spinning our wheels here. And so we had to change keywords and go through a lot of thought processes and reassess. Because in that case, it was the leads.

But I also think it’s important, especially in sales, to constantly be reassessing your own performance and what you’re going through. because we fall into traps, right?

And also it’s hard, the grind can be hard. And so things that you know you should be doing, you’re not this time because it’s just hard. So checking every box, every single time can be monotonous. So I think a lot of times the breakdown can just be with us.

David: It can be. And it can be our failure to look at the other options that are available to us. It can be our failure to look at the issues that we’re blaming to say, “how could we potentially improve that?” And sometimes it’s not the actual situation that we think it is.

In the example that you gave, you were able to determine that this group of leads worked and this group of leads didn’t. And if you got the same process, then you can say all right, we want more of the kind of leads that are going to work. Another option there would be to say, okay, is there something we can do to change the procedure on this particular group of leads to make it match?

But that doesn’t always work. Sometimes it is the leads, just like in Glengarry Glen Ross. Sometimes it actually is the leads. But that doesn’t alleviate the responsibility of the salesperson to try to identify what we can do to deal with whatever situation we’re faced with. Because the problem is that if we don’t do that, we are really disempowering ourselves, and we’re training ourselves to blame outside factors that are beyond our control, which means we can never be in control.

Whenever we do that, anytime we outsource responsibility somewhere else, anytime we outsource the blame to something else, then we’re completely disempowering ourselves.

Jay: Yeah. I love that. That’s such a good point. Outsourcing the blame is not going to solve any problems. You know, it’s been kind of a running theme through all the podcasts that we do, that you should always be reassessing, you should always be looking at the numbers.

We’ve talked about key performance indicators and saying, you know, we normally always have a good January. Now we’re not, what is going on? Is it seasonal? Is it the economy? Because we can be affected by so many things outside of our control, but if we’re not reassessing those and we can’t go back and look at where we were before, we might not even know we need to change.

And then we’re outsourcing excuses as well.

David: Yeah, I think there’s also a tendency for some people to think in terms of blame instead of responsibility. My thinking is it’s better if we can choose responsibility instead of blame. Choose responsibility over blame. That means you know, I’m not asking anybody to blame themselves.

I’m not saying blame yourself for poor sales. What I’m saying is “what aspects of that can you take responsibility for?” Can you take the responsibility of saying, “okay, if I need better leads, I either need to dig them up myself, or I need to go to the person who provides the leads and convince that person that we need something different?”

Look at whatever sliver of action you can take, whatever little thing you can do to advance the cause, because otherwise you’re just playing the victim and that never helps anyone, particularly in sales.

Jay: Yeah, exactly. You know, another example… we were just recently excited. Somebody approached us, “Hey, we have this great new way to generate leads for you. It’s going to involve webinars and all of these things.”

And again, it generated a decent amount of leads, but we couldn’t close any of them. And it was interesting because it felt like they were the right kind of leads. They were asking the right kind of questions. So we really spent a lot of time saying, is it us?

Is it this particular client? And ultimately, we stopped using that service just because, for whatever reason, whatever it was doing, just not the ideal customer.

But if we would’ve just said, oh, it’s not working, I would still today be thinking to myself, maybe we should have stuck with that longer. So try things and then tweak ’em as you go to make sure that if you’re going to not use them anymore, you’ve really done your due diligence. Otherwise, you might be chasing away good leads.

David: Yeah. And I think listening skills are critical in that regard. When you’re talking to a different group of people, a different group of people that came in from a particular lead source that you’ve never done before, and you find that they’re not closing, what are they saying that is different than the other people that you normally talk to?

What questions are they asking? What questions are they not asking? What questions are they not responding well to? Because a lot of times, if you get a list of people that just don’t have any money to spend, and you find that that’s a recurring motif in that particular lead source, then it’s pretty easy to understand. Okay, it’s going to be difficult to convert.

But the challenge there is that there are a lot of people who have money, who pretend not to when they’re in a conversation with a salesperson. And so just because somebody says they don’t have money, very often that just means I don’t have money for you for what you’re proposing right now, because I still don’t get it. I don’t believe it. I don’t see the ROI.

If you can show them the ROI, they can come up with the funds. And so that’s part of the challenge as well. Is the person that you’re talking to telling you the truth about their inability to buy, or are they just making something up because they don’t want to buy what it is that we’re offering?

Jay: Yeah. And one other thing we’ve started doing recently is if it comes down to the point where they’re not going to buy or they say maybe in the future or whatever, and we put them into our database and we have a drip program that constantly reminds them about who we are and what we do.

But to me, the follow-up to those individuals, a way to ask them straight up, “hey, can I ask what it is that kept you from using our services?” That’s hard to do, you know?

David: Mm-hmm.

Jay: But maybe it can be done through a form after the fact, an email that they can get. Any extra morsels of information to find out why this particular group of leads is not working out, I think could really be beneficial.

David: Yeah. And I find that when it’s actually on a conversation, if someone tells you that on a conversation, yeah, listen, I don’t think we want to move forward on this. I find that to be a great time to be able to say to them, okay, I would much rather have a no or a yes than a maybe.

So I appreciate the fact that you’re being candid with me. Can you tell me what was it that caused you to make that decision? It’s a decent time to ask, and you’re basically acknowledging what they said. You’re not trying to talk them out of it at that point. And then, in a lot of cases, they can really open up to you about some of what their issues were or are, and it’s possible then to sometimes swing back into a conversation where you’re able to address something that you didn’t know they needed addressed, answer a question that wasn’t officially asked previously.

And once that pressure or tension is taken away where they think you’re trying to sell them something, they can very often be a lot more open in their responses.

Jay: Yeah, this is such a great point because if you ask them, Hey, can you tell me what it is? They may come back and their answer may demonstrate to you that they missed the whole point. That you had been talking the whole time and they completely missed your benefits.

They completely misunderstood you. And so like you said, that may restart the whole sales cycle again. But now you have a better understanding of what they’re looking for.

David: Yeah, exactly. So part of my feeling here is that it’s important for any of us who are dealing with this type of thing to start out by looking inward. Essentially asking yourself, what can you do today, right now, to advance your own sales career? To target better prospects? To initiate more contacts?

Whatever it is that you need to do, there’s probably something that you can do and that you should do to advance that process. Also, I think there are some people who think they might want to try to sell something, but if they’re not committed to making that happen, they can stretch it out for days, weeks, months, or years, if people let them, and never sell a thing.

And I’ve seen situations like that where somebody had planned to sell something and was talking about it for a long time, and all the dominoes had to be lined up just right before they’d flick it, you know, flick one of them and get it going. And ultimately nothing happened. And that I think is just a failure of vision in terms of “what am I really planning to do and what will I actually take action on?”

Because sometimes we have a great idea, but then it’s like, “oh, it seems like too much work” or “I don’t want to do it,” or “I’m scared,” or whatever the deal is. And unfortunately, you’re building bridges to nowhere when you do that. You’re trying to set up all these different things to be in place, but if you fail to, you know, flick the domino or pull the trigger, nothing’s going to happen.

Jay: Yeah. Such a great point. And if you’re outsourcing that blame or that responsibility, then you need to reassess. David, how can people find out more?

David: Well, you can go to Schedule a call with myself or my team, and we’ve been taking a number of calls, particularly over the past couple of weeks, and it’s been great having conversations with people who are really serious about growing their sales and profits.

Because the reality of the situation is, you know the old 80/20 rule. And who knows, these days it might be 85/15, or 90/10 or 95/5. And we love having conversations with people who are serious about growing their sales and profits.

We love having the conversations where we can sort of walk them through their current situation. Where they’re looking to be in terms of sales and profits and visibility in the marketplace. We try to make these calls as valuable as possible, whether or not we ever end up working together. It kind of doesn’t matter.

If you are serious about growing your sales and profits and you want to have a conversation, go to We would love to have those conversations with you.

Jay: All right, that’s awesome. Thank you so much, David.

David: Thank you, Jay.

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