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Is Your House In Order?

by David Brock on August 27th, 2014

I had a mentor that used to say, “You better make sure your house is in order, before you start complaining about the mess in your neighbor’s.”

Another mentor used to say, usually when I was whining about something, “Remember, when you point your finger blaming something else, three fingers are pointing back at you.”  (The visual below may help.)

I wrote, It’s Never JUST A Sales Problem, Kurt, correctly pointed out “a superior organization will as much and as long as possible take responsibility for delivering results, regardless…..”  He’s absolutely right.

Too often, I hear sales people and even managers complaining, “If only we had more competitive products, If I had this feature and capability….”  Or, “I don’t have enough leads and the quality of those I get sucks,”  Or, “If only we had these tools and programs…..”  Or “Our competitors can do these things and we can’t do the same….”

Some of these may be fair and accurate, but we can’t use them as excuses.

Our obligation as individual contributors, or leaders, is to make sure our own performance is the best it possibly can be.  Regardless how few and bad leads are, if we aren’t doing our own prospecting we aren’t fulfilling our responsibilities to ourselves and our companies.  Even if our products are trailing edge, if we make the conversation only about the products, we will fail our customers, companies, and ourselves.

There will always be problems.  There are always things that need to be changed and improved (if there weren’t we wouldn’t have jobs).  It’s critical that we look within our selves and our organizations to make sure we are doing the best we possibly can do.

There’s another critical reason, I’ve touched on them in my It’s Never Just A Sales Problem, and What We Can Learn From The ER articles.  Often, until we have really understood and addressed our own problems and challenges, we can’t identify the real underlying problems.

In so many of the situations we see, we can’t find the real underlying issues until we fix our own performance.  Once we do, the underlying issues pop out.

So while it is never JUST a sales problem, that is NEVER an excuse for not maximizing our own performance.

finger pointing

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  1. Another great post, and again, so well summarized:

    “So while it is never JUST a sales problem, that is NEVER an excuse for not maximizing our own performance.”

    One of the reasons I have always felt simpatico with sales in my various companies is that, like a fully engaged and accountable, “the buck stops here.” While certainly salespeople have there fair share of excuses for missing goals, quotas, deadlines, etc., it is NOTHING like the whining I hear from every other corner of the enterprise.

    DEVELOPMENT– We’re still testing, adding features, “tweaking code,”… One company with which I was deeply involved essentially missed an entire upgrade cycle– and lost maybe 75% of their market share in the meantime– because we kept tinkering with the software, trying to make the “awesome” “awesome.”

    MARKETING– Well, we didn’t really have the budget or time to adequately test our messaging, packaging, campaigns, etc. Yeah, and the bank doesn’t give us extra time to pay on our capital equipment loans, either.

    FINANCE– We’ll get the consolidated financials to you for sure… the day AFTER a board meeting or analyst call.

    CUSTOMER SERVICE– another company with which I was associated in the Internet “bubble” days originally had a very interesting email support policy… If a message is more than two weeks old, delete it. ?!?!?!?!

    A well-run sales organization will be the first to “man up” and try to make things happen regardless. The difficult part is sometimes getting that to translate into the necessary “stroke” to effect necessary change.

    Thanks again!

    • Kurt, thanks for the great observation. I’ve seen much of the same thing in companies I’ve run or where I’ve had responsibility for not sales functions. There’s something about the ultimate accountability that great sales people thrive with. It’s probably why, regardless my role, I tend to find myself more aligned with sales than anything else. Thanks for the great comment.

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