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You lost the big contract you thought you had a real shot at winning.

“I was outsold.”

These are three fundamental words every salesperson needs to say and every sales manager needs to hear the salesperson say when a deal has been lost.

Why? Because personal accountability is the foundation for continued and balanced improvement.

After taking a tough loss in high school and listening to me complain about the ref, my coach pulled me aside and said, “If you feel unhappy with your results, you have only to look in the mirror to stare the culprit straight in the eye.” Tough love, right? He had no idea the impact that “coachable moment” had on me.

Sales, business and life is a lot like sports, you get out of it what you put into it. It is this very statement that drove me to continuous improvement as an athlete, as a salesperson and as a CEO. As I climbed through the ranks in business I learned about Stephen Brown’s Failure Formula where he states…

“People fail in direct proportion to their willingness to accept socially accepted excuses for failure.”

Socially accepted excuses…we have all heard (and maybe even used) socially accepted excuses before. In my case, it was the ref. Here is a partial list just to get us going:

“I would be successful if it weren’t for the economy.”

“I would be successful if our prices were lower.”

“I would be successful if I had a different manager.”

“I would be successful if someone would train me.”

“I would be successful if we had better products to sell.”

“I would be successful if I had a better territory.”

Unfortunately, these “socially accepted excuses” play like the victim card. It is the view of an externalist. It is not your fault, it is everyone else’s fault. You are a victim of circumstance. When you break it down what you are actually saying is this:

Hey, don't judge me by the same criteria you judge others, because if you do, I am going to fail. But, as long as you go along with the idea our prices are too high, the prices fail and my hands are clean."

The prices failed? I am always fascinated when I see salespeople in the same company making big dollars and Presidents Club every year selling with those same prices.

A Successful Failure

A loss is an opportunity to learn. "I got outsold and these are the adjustments I will make going forward," are the only words I would accept from my sales team. I would accept these words if and only if, they actually made those necessary adjustments. Actions speak louder than words. If the actions match the words, then what we have is a successful failure. The salesperson fails, understands exactly where and why they failed, makes the necessary adjustments, and gains a valuable learning experience. Therein lies the importance of personal accountability.

Personal accountability is the guiding principle that makes companies great. It is the blood stream that that runs through every part of the company and through every associate’s relationship with each other. It is how we define our standards of performance and how we make commitments to one another. It is how we become a learning organization.

Winning is winning. Whether in sports or business, establishing personal accountability as a guiding principle is a key step in creating a high-performance sales culture. At Butler Street, we help companies and their people grow®. One of our foundational concepts to profitable growth is building a winning sales culture through our Four Cornerstones of Success. Contact us today to schedule training for your team on the Four Cornerstones.

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