True Justifications for Poor Sales Results and What To Do About Them

Most of the excuses for poor sales performance aren’t valid. They aren’t real, and they have no bearing in reality. Most are rationalizations that attempt to absolve the salesperson of their responsibility (not that this plagues only salespeople).

But there are a couple of excuses, better termed “justifications,” which put the responsibility for poor results where it belongs: on the individual. For those that are brave enough to accept that these are the real reasons for poor performance, their acknowledging their responsibility is the beginning of better sales results. But you must have courage.

You Don’t Know Enough

Selling well is challenging. And, despite all that we now know about how to sell effectively, it isn’t getting any easier. I believe it is getting more and more difficult to sell well. There is much to know, and without the knowledge (especially business acumen and situational knowledge), your results won’t be what they might be.

Instead of making excuses, take responsibility for your own sales results and acquire additional training. This has never been easier, and there are countless resources of which you can easily avail yourself, including free webinars like those listed in my events widget to the right of this post.

You can also take charge of your own personal development. You can read books, listen to audio files, watch videos, and make your own improvement plan. You can shore up the areas where you are weak and improve your personal effectiveness.

You can also find a mentor, hire a coach, or take classes. If you are brave enough to look yourself in the eye and admit that the real reason you didn’t produce the results that you needed was that you didn’t know enough, you have taken the first step towards improvement. Now you have to take some of the actions listed above.

You Aren’t Working Hard Enough

Sometimes the “justification” for poor sales results is that you plain aren’t working hard enough. It’s an act of courage and bravery to admit this. It is also the first step to remedying this shortcoming.

You can dedicate yourself to the tasks that are known to produce sales results.

You can get to work earlier, having gotten a good night’s sleep and having prepared yourself to dig in. You can also make sure your car is the last car to leave the parking lot (though not because you simply waited for everyone to leave—because you were still working).

You can eliminate the weapons of mass distraction, the things that take your time, your attention, and your focus from work. This includes things like checking your email in the morning, the virtual water cooler that is the Internet, and those of your peers who would have your attention.

If you aren’t working hard enough, you can set personal goals and activity goals. You can commit to making so many calls or scheduling a certain number of appointments and work towards achieving those goals. You can also build a model workweek and follow your plan.

You will often compete with better salespeople. The decision as to whether or not you let yourself be outworked is yours and yours alone.

You Aren’t Doing the Right Work

If your results aren’t what you need them to be, and you know enough to succeed and you are working hard, you may be doing the wrong work. There are certain tasks and activities that produce sales results, and there are other tasks that feel like sales work that don’t produce results.

Your results may suffer because you are an order-taker, someone who is willing to work on clients that come to them without having to prospect. You might be waiting for deals to walk themselves into your office. You might be working in operations, and it may feel like you are making a contribution to the organization.

All of these indicate a resistance to the real work of sales and selling.

You can work very hard on non-sales related tasks and produce poor sales results. You can justify your actions as necessary, or you can accept the real “justification” is that you are doing the wrong work because selling well is difficult.

For those who are brave enough to face the truth, you will have taken the first step towards improvement. But it won’t be enough. You will also have to take the second and more challenging step of taking action to change, to make improvements in yourself. It isn’t enough to face the truth without facing the change it requires.


If you were going to be honest with yourself, what would you attribute as being the main obstacle to better sales results?

Why is it so difficult for we humans to accept responsibility for own actions and our own results?

What do you believe are the real reasons that salespeople produce poorer results than they might?

How much of the responsibility for producing better results lies with the salesperson?

Why is making excuses damaging to the person who makes them?

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Filed under: Sales

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