This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 1 – The Core Attributes of Sales Success

Takes responsibility
One of the key traits that can be seen among winners in every endeavor is taking responsibility for the results they achieve ─ good or bad.

The opposite of taking responsibility is making excuses. It is easy to tell the general inclination of the person you are talking to with a few short questions.

  • Tell me about a time when you did not hit your numbers.
  • What were the circumstances?
  • Why do you think that it is that you didn’t hit your numbers?
  • Did you do anything differently as a result?
  • Tell me about a conflict you had with a client?
  • How was it finally resolved?
  • Tell me about a conflict you had with your boss?
  • How was it finally resolved?

When the answers to these questions consistently relate to some outside influence, then your candidate is an excuse-maker.

On the other hand, when there is at least some element of recognition that he or she could have done something different to change the situation, the candidate is a responsibility-taker.

Like most things, this does not need to operate at the extremes to be true, and in fact, at the extremes it is as bad as in small doses. Those who consider themselves responsible for everything are probably just as wrong as those who consider themselves at fault for nothing.

Ideally, our salespeople will take at least some responsibility for the situations they are involved in. Those with this perspective will work to resolve situations instead of wasting time laying blame and covering their backsides. They will also learn from these situations and try to adapt their behaviors next time to reduce the chances of a similar situation repeating.

On the other hand, if a person is inclined to consistently and exclusively blame the other parties for a situation, there is nothing this person believes he or she could or should have done differently. There is no room for learning and improvement here. The same mistakes will continue to be made, and overall sales efficiency, and effectiveness will be heavily diminished.


Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!