Never Give Your Audience the Excuses They Seek!

As a sales expert or leader, it is your function to implement and execute upon process while taking care of, promoting and guiding people – your customers and your employees. Much of our work consists of diagnosing what’s wrong; like baseball hitting coaches, we must inspect the mechanism and see where we fail on follow through. Like Sherlock Holmes, it’s imperative we search for all potential clues, be they lurking in our audience’s psyche or self doubt, being down on some component of the product or the job, or hiding in the inner sanctum of their personal lives.

Coaching sessions for our employees are paramount – not only to the discovery, but also to the collaboration on the plan to take us forward. It is in these sessions where we revisit the documentation from our last meeting, literally re-reading the commitments we made to one another. A renewal of vows, if you will. Likewise with our follow-up’s with our customers; over time, we grow to learn their needs and wants, the way they wish to be taken care of in the business sense and what is of the utmost importance to keep the relationship ticking.

Far too often, however, we are the very catalyst for the lack of progress. We diagnose potential concerns, yet often we blurt out the end of the caper prior to allowing our audience to self discover. Realize that your customers and employees don’t change simply because you wish it to be so. Once they see – from your prodding, of course – that they should fear the ramifications of not changing more than they fear making a change, they will make their decision. This is the most telling time of that relationship: does your customer make the decision that just because prior attempts at pursuing a product or service of this ilk failed, they’ll move forward with you because you’ve shown them how you are different, of value, and vital? Does your employee note that their current trajectory on the sales charts will lead to not getting that promotion or not retaining their role, and they decide that it’s time to get out of their comfortable ways of failing in favor of the course of action you suggested and that the two of you plot together?  Ideally, yes and yes.

Yet many coaching sessions are simply managers talking at their employees. Many sales transactions are merely sales people talking at their customers – telling them a laundry list of talking points and simply guessing at what ails them. Don’t load the gun of their excuses for them! The reason people don’t buy or change is because they don’t see the urgency! They fear change and they are locked into what I have referenced as the aforementioned “comfortable ways of failing.” When you ask a customer, “What’s the issue – is it the cost? Is it the economy?”, you’re conceivably giving them even more reasons to say no. State your business, and immediately go into asking about theirs. You’re in search of clues – and even if you solve the case early – don’t blurt it out!

“In my extensive work in your industry, I’ve been told there is a shift in what you and your competition are doing in this field – do you find that to be the case, and how have you approached it?” It’s fine and great to use your hypotheses, but don’t give them a reason to shut you down and don’t deviate from the tried and true method of gaining all your evidence from their own mouths. There is no better way to overcome objections than weaving in your audience’s own words when diagnosing, when pitching, and when closing.

“What’s the issue out there on your sales calls – why aren’t we selling more of Metric X? Are we not offering it? Do you not feel comfortable with the product?” is all over the place; we’ve demonstrated as leaders that we’re a bit lost, trying to prod and trying to get some confession that may never come. News flash: we’re not looking for desired answers here. We’re not looking to lead the witness. Our goal is self discovery on their part. “Joe/Mary Rep – your metrics indicate we aren’t closing Metric X near as often as your peers. Why are customers refusing your recommendation?” Stop there. In this instance, start from the result and trace your way back to the cause.

I believe that every customer wants to be successful and each of your employees does as well. That said, each of us gets off track at certain points for a variety of reasons: past failure in the area, the strain of managing multiple priorities, the uncertainty of the future. It’s always up to us to rekindle the flame in our audience. They will always give you a myriad of reasons for complacency; like detectives, it is incumbent upon us to wade through the murk, ask very specific questions about the result that are geared to tracing back to the cause, and ultimately decide – can I show this audience why their lack of belief should be altered in favor of the outcome I am offering?

Your audience already has their reasoning, founded or not, so giving them additional excuses or simply being conversational without purpose will go nowhere. Yet this is one of the most common mistakes of management and selling – conversation without purpose. Recall again that people and process must govern all we do; the part of the process in this case is processing why your audience is struggling with the component being analyzed and there’s no better way to do so than to ask questions designed to uncover the truth.


Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.  If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership.  You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.  You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page:

About cvheady007

I am a Christian, Husband, Dad, workaholic and author. Biography Carson Vincent Heady was born in Cape Girardeau, MO, graduated from Southeast Missouri State University and moved to St. Louis in 2001. He has served in sales and leadership across Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Carson is best-selling author of the Birth of a Salesman series, the first book of which was published by World Audience Inc. in 2010. He released The Salesman Against the World in 2014, A Salesman Forever in 2016 and Salesman on Fire in 2020. He is also featured in Scott Ingram’s B2B Sales Mentors: 20 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals. Carson is a 7-time CEO/President’s Club winner across 5 roles at AT&T and Microsoft and National Verizon Rockstar winner. He has been recognized as a top social seller at Microsoft and is consistently ranked in the top 25 sales gurus in the world on Rise Global. He is included among the Top 50 sales authors on LinkedIn. With over 330K social followers, Carson has also been interviewed on over 30 sales and leadership podcasts, by such luminaries as Jeffrey & Jennifer Gitomer, Jeb Blount, Brandon Bornancin, Sam Dunning, Larry Levine, Darrell Amy, Scott Ingram, Thierry van Herwijnen, Jim Brown, Sam Jacobs, Luigi Prestinenzi, Donald Kelly, Marylou Tyler, George Leith, Pat Helmer, Eric Nelson, Ron Tunick, Jeff Arthur, Mary Ann Samedi, Jean Oursler, Andre Harrell, Marlene Chism, Bill Crespo, Matt Tanguay, Josh Wheeler and Chad Bostick. He has also co-hosted the Smart Biz Show on EG Marketing Radio. His articles have appeared in several noteworthy publications such as SalesGravy, Smash! Sales, Salesopedia and the Baylor Sports Department S3 Report. Carson lives in St. Louis, MO, with his wife Amy and daughters Madison, Sidonia and Charlotte.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s