Guest Post: Make a List, Delete Excuses


I am travelling today, so I asked my good friend and colleague, Linda Richardson to stand in  …

Selling is as much mind-set as skill set — especially today. Sure the economy has made it harder to conduct business and find and close opportunities. It has also made it harder to decipher what obstacles are due to the economy and what are due to our own performance. A 2009 DI study with 1600 corporate customers showed that customers attributed 33% of lost deals to things they feel were in the salesperson’s control.

With data like that it may be time to step back and take inventory of what we are and are not doing. One of my clients said he has banned the sentence, “Sales are down because of the economy,” out of his sales team’s vocabulary. He’s not living in la-la land but rather he is asking the team to take charge of what they can control.

I think we all benefit from focusing extra hard on what’s in our control.

Start by making a list of everything you can control:
-number of customer calls
-number of prospect calls
-use of social networking to learn about prospects
-pipeline to quota ratio
-more specific ROI tied to solutions,
-calling former clients
-calling clients who have changed companies
-improved follow-up
-planning calls for the month down to each day
-sprucing up one’s appearance
-making relationship phone calls
-doing more research
-higher sense of urgency …

One salesperson who has implemented this approach says it has helped her stay in the game, and she has already exceeded her first quarter goal. An effort like this revs up competitive juices and improves results. You can also help your customers tweak their thinking toward what they can control.

For example, once a customer’s problem is on the table, use questions to get at what the short-term goals are, what the obstacles are, how in light of that their purchasing strategies have changed. With that information, brainstorm with customers how you can help them meet their short-term and long-term goals.

We can all benefit from making a list to help raise the bar on our own performance. I, for one, will work on building stronger bonds with customers and colleagues. What about you?


Linda Richardson is the Founder and Executive Chairwoman of Richardson, a global sales effectiveness organization. As a recognized leader in the industry, she has won the coveted Stevie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sales Excellence for 2006 and in 2007 she was identified by Training Industry, Inc. as one of the “Top 20 Most Influential Training Professionals.”

Linda is the author of ten books on selling and sales management, including her most recent works, Perfect Selling, The Sales Success Handbook — 20 Lessons to Open and Close Sales Now, Sales Coaching — Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach, and Stop Telling, Start Selling. She teaches sales and management courses at the Wharton Graduate School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton Executive Development Center. She is a frequent speaker at industry and client conferences. In addition her innovations in selling in the business world, in conjunction with Wharton, Linda has introduced a selling program into the Philadelphia schools as a pilot to increase inner-city students’ opportunities for employment.


  1. says

    Thanks Linda..

    I am an inveterate list maker, but never considered going into that much depth. I think I can use this to increase my focus….

    Always enjoy your thoughts and writing..

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