Sales Excuses and Reponses – Part 1

I hear sales excuses all the time. I have probably used a few in my day as well. But all they are is excuses. I once had a boss who told me, “A poor workman blames his tools.” Since that day, I have done my best to try not to blame other things or people for my inability to complete a task successfully in an effective and efficient manner. I am in the sponsorship marketing business.

We consult with and advise organizations that buy and sell sponsorships. So naturally, I hear excuses all the time. I know there are a few people who will read this and say, “Man, I cannot believe there are people out there like that!” To those of you thinking that: Wake up and smell the coffee. This one is most likely directed at you!

Here is my baker’s dozen of excuses that I do not want to hear. I have married them with a few that were published earlier this year by Todd Hockenberry. In fact, I know as Todd pointed out, these are lines you will never hear from a great salesperson.

  1. “The product sucks!” My reaction is “Why did you take the job?” You knew what you were selling prior to accepting the job. If you failed to understand the product to begin with, the fault lies with you. When you tell me the issue is the product, I know you are not the right person for the job.
  2.  “The price is too high.” The answer is simple. It is not about the price—it is about the value. Order takers and inexperienced sales professionals sell by price. Seasoned professionals sell by value. Determine your value and your differentiating attributes and sell on those, not the price. I see that Rolls Royce, Lamborghinis, and first class airline tickets are still selling, and in my books, those are expensive. They don’t discount or complain about price. They sell the value of the product.
  3. “I have no time for prospecting due to so much administration work.” In this case, administration is a necessary evil. The best real estate people, trinkets and trash sales people, and life insurance people sell so well that they hire administrators to do their paper work so they can sell. When I hear that someone does not have time for prospecting, I remind them of the Ken Blanchard book One Minute Salesperson and suggest they read it. Make time. Plan better. Stop procrastinating. Focus on the job and stop complaining.
  4. “The goals are too high.” If the goals are too high, perhaps you need to discuss that at budget planning time and not at the end of the fiscal year. Seasoned professionals stay committed and create a sense of urgency with their potential customers. You need to have a plan that is based on reason and qualified, not a pie in the sky goal.
  5. “The competitors are better.” In this case, I always refer back to excuse number one. Then I try to analyse what differentiates our competition from us. What do they do better and what do we do better? I ask if perhaps you are listening and “drinking the “Kool-Aid” from the competition’s marketing and public relations programs. If so, where is your belief in your own product? If our product can be sold by other members of the team or organization, then the issue is not with the competition being better, just that we have the wrong sales person!
  6. “We don’t get enough support.” My first response is “Have you spoken to your superior and asked for help? Or are you just looking for an excuse right now?” Perhaps what you are truly looking for is someone to do your work for you. Great salespeople have support staff. They earn it and pay for it. Those that complain are normally the ones who are not so great and need to find a reason for their failure to succeed.

These are the first six excuses and my responses (or at least thoughts!). Next week, I will deliver the back end of the baker’s dozen sales excuses that I never want to hear again.

These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments below. Thank you for reading and your feedback.

Brent Barootes


  1. Relationships are more important than ever in sales these days. Unlike 10 or 15 years ago, consumers have many sources of information to check your costs and/or figure out the “wholesale” cost of your product. On the other hand, they simply don’t have the time to manage all the issues “after the sale”. Consumers will pay for outstanding service and the same is true of sponsorship. Offer your clients a competitively priced product with true value add and you will have sales . . . but you need patience and a genuine understanding of what the client needs. So a sale rarely comes the first time you meet a client.

  2. Ron,
    Thanks for reading and the feedback. You are so correct about access to information and competitive nature of commodities today. The key in sponsorship sales or any sales today is to differentiate yourself. In my world that is about building relationships. And I agree that a relationship is not built on the first call with a client or prospect.


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