Hot off the presses, I have some updated data about salespeople that can help you manage more effectively.

What I just learned and would like to share with you now, is that only 11% of the salespeople assessed scored 100% in responsibility. Further, 9% actually have 0% responsibility. So let’s look at how that impacts your management effectiveness. For our purposes “Responsibility” evaluates whether or not a salesperson takes full responsibility for their sales outcomes or whether they tend to make excuses or rationalize why they didn’t have the desired sales outcomes. If you or your sales managers have difficulty holding individual’s feet to the fire, use caution when hiring individuals with this problem. Or, set the ground rules upon hire that there will be no excuse making, rationalizations or “the dog ate my paper” reasons why results were not produced. Then hold them accountable to results. The most effective way to do this is to first hold them accountable to an action plan that will produce adequate results.

Sales growth IS the scorecard for salespeople and they must realize that. Managers must realize that too. Sometimes salespeople try hard but aren’t successful. More often than not, salespeople don’t try hard enough and aren’t successful and then the excuses, or “reasons why” start rolling in. It sounds like this:

“That guy was such a jerk. He was never going to buy.”

“The competition just bought the business.”

“Our price was too high.”

“He needed to consult with his partner and the partner didn’t like us.”

“They can’t afford it right now.”

“They have other priorities right now.”

“They are going to do it in the 4th quarter.”

“The market is soft.”

And on and on the excuses go. Managers may have a tendency to accept bogus excuses because they feel uncomfortable being firm, don’t want to hurt the salesperson’s feelings, or don’t want to be the bad guy. Solve it by doing the following:

stop excuses

4 Steps to Help Salespeople Take Responsibility for Results

1. Ensure the salesperson agrees on the front end that there are no excuses, just results.

2. Have each salesperson create an action plan of their own that they agree will produce results if they execute.

3. Inspect their adherence to the plan. Are they doing what they agreed to do? If not, why not and what are they going to do differently?

4. Measure results and make sure each can easily know his or her results. Hold their feet to the fire.

And managers, don’t make excuses for them. Maybe the market is soft. So what? Don’t accept it. Turn it into a project. Require the salesperson to tell you what they are going to do to combat the soft market. The magic happens when the salesperson takes ownership of the action plan to produce those results.

Who knew that one little finding on a sales assessment could have such a big impact on effectiveness? Managers, stop accepting excuses and help your salespeople turn adversity (formerly reasons why they couldn’t achieve results) into action and success. Your salespeople will have more success if we wipe away excuse making. Then they can own the outcomes and therefore potentially be open to changing and growing and succeeding at higher levels.