Who To Blame When Sales Are Failing?

Babar Batla


on November 28, 2017

The Blame Game

There are many reasons why a sales team isn’t successful.

Perhaps you are trying to sell your product prematurely – before you’ve achieved product/market fit.

Perhaps you are selling your product to the wrong target buyer (you are convinced that your product should be bought by CFO but she won’t take your calls and isn’t interested). This is also a version of not having product/market fit.

Or perhaps your product is too buggy and you can’t convert trials and POCs (proof of concepts).

Or perhaps your sales culture is broken.

These are all potentially valid reasons for a startup not having a successful sales team – but what about a more established company? What about the startup that has gone through the initial trials and errors of product/market fit?

These companies have a good product that customers want – but they havn’t succeeding in building a successful sales team. They’ve hit a wall. They are not able to scale their sales in a meaningful way.

Often, these companies started out as a self-service product that customers were able to try and buy on their own without the assistance of a sales rep. The product “just worked” and the customer signed up.

Building and tweaking a scalable sales process in this successful environment can often be harder than it looks……because you don’t know who to blame?

The first and most common response is to fire the sales team and start over.

But is it really the Sales Reps’ fault? Or is it the Sales Leadership’s fault? Did you really just hire a bad bunch of reps?

Look no further than the sales process associated with this “failing team” to find your answer. Is there a clearly defined sales process or not?


Many companies who have worked hard at creating a reliable product that fills a market void are the ones who are most likely to struggle with their sales teams. An engineering focused company often blames the sales department for not growing fast enough. A sales driven company is quick to blame the sales leader (which is why so many companies go through multiple VP of Sales before they “get it right.”)

So, our answer to the question is straightforward –

If your company DOESN’T have a clearly defined process with proper sales tools then the blame is on management (the sales leader).

If your company DOES have a clearly defined process with proper sales tools then blame the reps.

Look at your process – do you have one? Was it forged and created by the Sales Leader? Or did the team fumble in the dark and figure it out on their own? Are the reps all doing what they think is right in their own eyes?

Whatever the answer, a careful examination of the sales process (and its origins) will give you a clue about where to start your reforms.

And while the solution might be to start firing people – we suggest that you look deeper into the actual sales process. Can it be improved to relieve labor intensive activities of your sales reps? Can you give your Sales Leader the support she needs to reform and rebuild the sales process and/or the sales team?

Lastly, any professional organization knows that blaming others for a problem is the wrong way to build a good team/sales culture. So, we write in jest that you should be “blaming” the Sales Leaders or the Sales Reps. Instead, take ownership of the situation and work towards a solution.

The best sales culture is not a group of robots and drones endlessly dialing and filling in CRM data – a healthy sales culture is comprised of extreme ownership from the seasoned Sales Leader to the newly hired SDR. Individual Ownership of your values, your mission, your quotas, your targets, your process, your behaviors and your activities will transform your broken sales culture into a powerhouse machine.

If you want to understand what your reps are or are not doing – or how well they are following your process – give SalesDirector.ai a trial run.  We are here to help.

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