Not My Fault

oil rig

On April 20, 2010, the oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded off of the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 crew members and spilling more than a million gallons of oil daily into the Gulf of Mexico.

The rig sank two days later. The oil rig was owned by Transocean, a Swiss company, but was being operated by the British company BP, as it searched for oil about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast.

Although, the cause of the Deep Water Horizon disaster is unknown, the finger-pointing and litigation has been ongoing. The three play- ers involved: British Petroleum, Haliburton and Transocean are all trying to distance themselves from their responsibility in this environ- mental and economic disaster of epic portion. BP, the contractor, is blaming Transocean, the owner of the drilling rig, who in turn is blaming Haliburton, the maker of the risers connecting the well to the rig itself.

The finger-pointing is an attempt to minimize legal and political repercussions. These companies, like politicians, and most of our soci- ety, try to absolve themselves of any responsibility for failure, and incompetence by pointing the finger and shining the light on someone else and claiming “it ain't my fault”. It has become the new American Way.

As I watch and read about this posturing, I am reminded of just how much of this sort of thing goes on in business and in the profession of selling. Through three decades in the selling profession, I have amassed a list of 25 commonly repeated excuses that sales profession- als make for lack of production. Take a look at the list below and be honest with yourself about how many of these excuses you, as a salesperson, make or, as a sales manager, you accept.

Top 25 Excuses for Poor Performance

  1. My quota is too high.
  2. My territory is too small.
  3. My company doesn’t advertise enough.
  4. Our marketing material is out of date.
  5. Our price is too high.
  6. We don’t get enough leads.
  7. I got undercut on price.
  8. The gatekeeper won’t let me through.
  9. Money is tight.
  10. The economy is slow.
  11. Businesses are not spending money.
  12. My prospects lie to me.
  13. We have a long sales cycle.
  14. Prospects need time to think about it.
  15. I don’t like making cold calls.
  16. If they are happy with their current supplier they won’t switch.
  17. Rejection wipes me out.
  18. We’re not competitive.
  19. They’re comparing us to the competition.
  20. They just signed a new contract.
  21. I can’t get through voice mail.
  22. They won’t return my call.
  23. They have to take it to the committee.
  24. They were just shopping price.
  25. They used my proposal to get competitive pricing.

While some of these may have a grain of truth associated with them, it is a mistake to allow these excuses to mask the real reason that salespeople are not successful. In selling, just as in life, things do not happen in a vacuum. Everything happens for a reason. It is the law of cause and effect. For every action or inaction there is a consequence, either positive or negative, and you are ultimately responsible for your actions or inactions and the consequences or situations you experience in life.

In his book, “The Psychology of Winning”, Denis Waitley writes that self honesty and responsibility are two key pre-requisites to im- proved performance. Unfortunately, those personal characteristics are in short supply these days.