Is This Why Salespeople (Or Anyone Else) Fail to Take Responsibility For Their Lack of Sales?

Published on September 12, 2018 by

I’ll never forget the morning I was in an emergency meeting called by the regional sales manager for the very large and well-known company I was selling for many years ago. I drove to the meeting in a company car that was a part of my compensation package. I loved the company but wasn’t so thrilled with the culture at the time.

The regional sales manager was stressed, to say the least. So stressed he couldn’t help venting his frustration when he told us, “I just came from a meeting with the Sales V.P. and it wasn’t pleasant. So don’t blame me if you don’t like what you’re going to hear from me today because the shit always rolls downhill.”

There it was. A sales meeting where the sales leader was feeling the pressure and pointing the finger at his sales force.

I get it. Sales leaders (at all levels) depend on their teams to make the sales.

And one of the biggest complaints I hear from sales managers or Sales V.P.s is, “My salespeople don’t take responsibility for their lack of sales.”

Just to be clear, I believe salespeople need to do just that.

Yet, precious few do. We know that?

But why?

There’s no one answer to that question.

But here’s a major reason salespeople don’t take responsibility for not hitting their sales quota:

Their work culture is one of “not taking responsibility.”

The fact is, ultimate responsibility for lack of sales doesn’t rest upon salespeople. The buck stops with the leaders and ultimately that means the CEO.

Guess what Mr./Ms. CEO, Sales V.P., Regional Sales Manager, Sales Manager?

If your salesforce has even one salesperson not making quota, that’s a reflection of your leadership.

Otherwise, why are you there?

You’re there to lead.

You’re there to produce the needed results. That’s not all your there for but it’s the summation of why you’re needed.

The place to begin with correcting our lack of sales crisis isn’t with the salespeople, although it needs to include them as a part of the overall solution.

But if all the sales leaders can’t say, “This is my problem, my failing, my responsibility,” then how can we expect the salespeople to do so?

That’s just nuts.

Yet, leaders can get by with not taking responsibility for their own lack of results because they have the power, the position, the status, and the gall to do so.

As long as that continues we won’t fix the problem of salespeople failing to take responsibility for their lack of sales.

They will continue to blame the economy, the price of their product or service, marketing gives them bad leads or not enough leads, they don’t get the coaching their company promised, their training isn’t adequate,  they have to spend too much time in meetings or on admin work or ten other things.

And why not?

If their sales leaders can point fingers, why can’t they?

It’s a fair question.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in. Leave a comment and let’s start a discussion.


  1. Tony Heath

    I believe the manager,s job is to remove barriers to sales success. Here I refer to internal factors only. The salesperson’s job is to solve the problems of their customers.
    So some sales people don’t want to help their customers. Some managers don’t want to help their sales people. Some products are badly conceived or executed. Fist fix the product. Then I’d suggest to both that they find new jobs.

    • Alan Allard

      Tony, you're brilliant, as usual! I love these two insights: I believe the manager,s job is to remove barriers to sales success and: So some sales people don’t want to help their customers. Some managers don’t want to help their sales people. Thanks for adding to the discussion!

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