5 Lame Excuses Salespeople Tell Themselves to Sabotage Their Sales

Salespeople Don't Give in to ExcusesIn previous posts, I explored the excuses that CEOs and sales managers often make, and how they build up to create a culture of excuses where sales under-performance can thrive. Tolerance for excuses trickles down from the top of the organization, and individual salespeople hold the least power of all, but even they can make their own choices about how willing they are to let excuses sabotage their sales.

A salesperson may have to go further to hold themselves accountable and rely on self-discipline to keep themselves on track, if their sales manager is inconsistent. Many of the excuses salespeople tend to make are addressed by motivation, persistence, and adhering to the necessary activities no matter what. These aren’t excuses made to sales managers as much as they are excuses salespeople tell themselves. For salespeople, it’s about tuning out the voice of self-doubt, not taking shortcuts, and staying the course.

5 Common Excuses Salespeople Make:


Excuse #1: I’m too busy; I am going to skip some of my daily activities and catch up on them tomorrow (or next week, or next month).

Common variation: It’s after 5 pm (in some time zone), so I may as well wrap up this calling for today.

Why this is flawed thinking: If a salesperson can get away with it one day, chances are one day will grow into two, three, four, and before you know it, you have a real problem. There may also be an underlying issue, such as the salesperson isn’t motivated, or isn’t confident about selling. Managers need to meet with salespeople to identify what is going on before the problem grows.


Excuse #2: I’m so far ahead of my goals; I can skip some of my daily activities and take a respite.

Common variation: I’m so far behind my goals; there is no way I can dig out of this hole, so I may as well skip some of my sales activities and pour my sorrows into this box of girl scout cookies.

Why this is flawed thinking: If you want to keep salespeople on track to meet goals, managers must hold them accountable to their tasks and help them adjust their activities and goals based on their performance to date and year-end goals. If they are on a roll, they need the bar to be raised so they have a new challenge. Whether behind or ahead, sales managers should be concerned with keeping them motivated.


Excuse #3: I’ve already called three times and got stuck in the “voicemail zone” every time…Why bother? Today won’t be any different.

Why this is flawed thinking: Research has shown that 80% of prospects decline a proposal at least four times before eventually saying “yes.” BUT 44% of salespeople give up after a single “no.” 22% give up after two. 14% give up after three. 12% give up after four. Just 8% of salespeople will even bother to ask for the order a fifth time, but those 8% are getting 80% of the sales, according to research from Marketing Donut.


Excuse #4: I’m afraid of losing my client, so I’m going to keep things safe and superficial, so they don’t decide they don’t like me or think that I’m bothering them.

Why this is flawed thinking: During an economic slowdown, it is more important than ever to be empathetic and personal with clients. This is when salespeople must go above and beyond to identify what problems the client is experiencing and find opportunities to help solve them. That means putting yourself out there and asking probing questions, as I explain in this post.


Excuse #5: It’s too close to the holidays (or summer, or a solar eclipse), so my sales efforts now would be energy wasted.

Why this is flawed thinking: Don’t let yourself fall victim to your self-defeating inner voice before you even have a chance to sell. Many sales experts have noted that contrary to common belief, there are great sales opportunities to be had during the off-season, with a bit of persistence. I rounded up some of the different advice on December sales in this post. The same concept holds true for summer, spring break, etc. Don’t give in to your excuses. Take a chance; you may get lucky.


Excuses only have as much power as you give them. Put a stop to them with critical thinking and persistence and they won’t be able to ruin your sales performance.

If you have even more excuses to share, we’d love to see them! Use the comments to contribute.

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