Published by : Paul E. Lafleur
Telling your children they must be accountable for their actions is demonstrating a form tough love. Doing it as a sales manager enables your salespeople to achieve their goals and personal objectives.
Your sales reps must respect their sales managers. They must trust that they’re being held accountable to elements within their control.
If the sales manager provides all the necessary tools to incite accountability, and if this is done properly, you will reach the sweet spot where everything falls into place.
What are the elements of a sales accountability plan?
There are three elements a sales manager must focus on to improve their team’s accountability: providing direction, motivation and coaching.
You cannot expect a salesperson to bring in millions of dollars in sales without providing clear expectations.
Work with your reps to set their numbers and objectives. Once the reps know their work goals and have the desire to achieve them. Telling them how to get from point A to point B is the sales manager’s responsibility.
Once you’ve established a clear path, they must agree to it. In other words, get the buy-in. This is crucial, without their buy-in, they’ll lack the motivation to meet their objectives, and this leads to poor accountability.
A team that feels supported by their sales manager performs better.
Accountability should be an incentive, not a deterrent. There’s something very positive about a leader telling their reps, “This is your thing. You own this.", and then providing the motivation and encouragement to keep them striving for better results.
To be a good sales coach and enforce accountability, you need to understand the problems your team is having. If you try to hold them accountable but have no clear grasp of their issues, you’re going down a dead-end. Being directive in a situation where you should be coaching will produce poor results.
Don’t be an absent or inattentive sales manager. Pay attention to your salespeople’s weaknesses. If their shortcomings are in large part due to a skill which needs improving, and you aren’t there to help them, you can hardly blame their lack of assuming accountability.
What should a manager do to improve sales rep accountability?
- Stop excuse-making in its track
- Create a clear path to follow
Stop excuse-making in its track
Responsibility is a very important aspect of accountability, as well as buy-in. If your salespeople need to achieve a set sales objective, and as sales manager, you’ve set what you believe to be honest objectives.
If they don’t agree to these terms, you must go back to the drawing table and make sure they are taking responsibility.
The economy not doing well, operations not delivering on time or the competition having a better product are all elements out of the reps control. They may very well affect the bottom line, however the rep must not be bogged down by these things he or she cannot control.
In this situation, a sales manager must be realistic yet still expect accountability.
Their daily activities and prospecting efforts should remain constant and should not be affected by outside factors. The sales manager’s job is to clearly define the path to enable and motivate a rep to perform even under difficult economic or market conditions.
Responsibility is about doing everything in your ability to get the results.
Create a clear path to follow
To encourage your reps to meet the set work objectives, they must first have a clear path to their personal goals. i.e. “ I need a $100,000 of revenue to put a down payment for the condo I want to purchase by the end of this year”.
The goal is set. The sales manager plays a crucial role in achieving this goal:
- How many deals must a salesperson close to meet this goal?
- How many opportunities should fill the pipeline?
- How many calls must be made to find these prospects? Daily, weekly?
By helping your rep break down the numbers, they suddenly have a clear path which leads straight to their success.
As a sales manager, you can then ask them how their week went and expect a concise response.
- If they fell short of their goal, what was the reason?
A legitimate reason will warrant you to help them go through it, and ensure responsibility in recuperating the following weeks. If the rep has poor excuses for their poor results, a lesson on accountability becomes the order of the day.
This leads straight back to accountability being strongly impacted by coaching.
Consider the following, are you letting your life happen to you, or are you making your life happen? Whether you find yourself in the position of being held accountable, or are in the position of expecting accountability, put your boot straps on and take control of the situation!