Taking responsibility, whether in our personal or professional lives, can be a difficult task. It requires self-reflection, understanding the role our actions play and accepting that we have made a mistake. Which is why it isn’t hard to see the reason many sales reps have a difficult time taking responsibility. If you or your sales reps are having a difficult time with this, it’s time to wake up. It’s time for your sales reps to take responsibility for their actions and it’s time for you to take back control of your sales team. Today on the funnel we discuss what responsibility means, what tools you can use to address the problem and what you can do to fix it. As always if you have any questions feel free to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and I’ll do my best to help in any way I can.


What we’re going to cover:

  • Responsibility.
  • Tools you can use.
  • What you can do.





“When we talk about responsibility we’re really talking about how a sales rep manages the things that happen to them in their daily sales life.”


Excuse making

“Our pricing is too high.” “We lost the deal to a competitor that was priced much better than we are.” “Our competitors have a better product, better service, better support, etc.”

“Excuse making can be devastating to a sales rep’s career. Responsibility and personal responsibility can flat line their numbers, it could just make them underachievers or in some cases just at the line and it’s keeping them from moving forward.”


A problem you may not realize you have.

“A lot of times you’re sitting in the office and a sales rep comes in talking about an opportunity lost and they’re telling you with great detail and expertise how that deal was lost and you’re going with the flow. You can empathize with them, you can talk through that and feel like you’ve accomplished something, have that conversation, but in reality, what we’re listening to and what we’re hearing are excuses.


How often is this happening?

“How much excuse making is going on in your sales team? How much of this sort of thing is pervasive on your sales team? Listen to what they’re saying when you go through the end of the deal deconstruction when you discuss that win or loss. Listen to the words and listen to how they’re bringing it to you and if you’re hearing some of those excuse words like “You know our pricing is difficult.” “We’re always 20-30% higher than everyone else.” That’s a real key indicator. If you’re hearing things like that they’re not taking personal responsibility for the things that they do.”


An easy out.

“Unless they start taking responsibility and accountability for those things they’re not going to move forward, they’re going to be stuck in this sales pit because it’s an easy out.”

“I don’t accept that, I don’t accept that at all. I don’t want to hear that you lost because of these reasons, I don’t want to hear about how our pricing is the problem. Instead, I want to know how we’re going to move the needle and drive more business with that pricing as part of the plan. If you get people in that right mindset then things start to move forward.”


The why.

“Responsibility is taking accountability for those things that go wrong, go right, whatever it is. I don’t want to hear the excuses as to why you lost. Because the why should be “I didn’t do what I was supposed to do.””

Tools you can use.


Sales candidate assessment

“The OMG, objective management group, sales candidate assessment has a responsibility as a category. It’s often overlooked, but it’s something you should focus on.”

“If I have a sales candidate and they fit all the pieces I’m looking for (in the assessment) and responsibility is an issue I’m not going to dismiss them as a potential hire. What I’m going to do is say to them the day you walk in the door here is the day that sort of thing ends. Then we’re going to work together to help you be successful, but we don’t accept excuses.”

What I want to hear.

“What I want to hear, what I want to see is you take responsibility for your own life and your own actions and your own outcome. So, if you don’t win a deal it’s not because of all of these outside factors it’s because you didn’t win the deal and you’re going to try harder, work harder, so the next time that doesn’t happen. You’re going to uncover the reasons why.”


Sales representative evaluation

“Now you may have some people on your team that are used to excuse making. Like I said before maybe you led that empathetic ear and you went along with it thinking you were doing some good, well you’re not and you need to stop it. It’s right there in the evaluation, it tells you this is a problem with that specific rep.”

How do I fix it?

“You need to formulate a plan to overcome that, a plan that’s going to help you help them take responsibility for their own actions.”


What you can do.


Ask the questions

“Ask the questions about the deals, “Why did you lose this deal? What happened here?” And listen to the responses. Are the signs there? Are they giving me excuses? Once you’re enlightened to this problem it becomes much easier to see, you just have to ask the questions.”

For example:

“You have to go through the autopsy of a dead deal and listen for why it didn’t happen. Or maybe there was some kind of pricing or proposal presentation that needed to be done and it wasn’t done, why wasn’t it done?”


Require excuse making to stop

“Then you put a stop to it. You require the excuse making to stop and you encourage them to have an open honest conversation with themselves about how they’re going about their day and how they’re responding to negative things.”


Questions to ask yourself:

“How are you responding to a lost deal? Are you looking for the reasons why outside of yourself? Or are you looking inward? Did we do all that we could to win that deal?”


That’s when development happens.

“And yes you’re not going to win every time, we know that, but if we can take responsibility and say there are things that we could have done better and we take control of that as a rep, as a team, as a manager, you’ll find movement forward. That’s when development starts happening, that’s when coaching starts opening up and they start embracing what they’re learning. It happens the minute they accept what they’re doing wrong.”


Force them to look in the mirror.

“Until you move past all the reasons why you can’t do it that way you’re not going to get any better. Because they’ll give you whatever you’re willing to accept as a response. But if you stop them dead in their tracks you point them in the mirror and you begin to force them to take responsibility for their own actions that’s when you get movement, it’s that simple.”

Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.


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