Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 6/2/17 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehension.
Is your sales team meeting expectations?
Try implementing accountability and get your sales goals met while improving the performance of your team.
How to establish and manage sales team accountability
- Establish clear sales team goals.
- Provide your team with the tools they need.
- Follow through with #1 and #2.
- Have pre-defined, consistent corrective actions in place.
- Manage numbers, lead people.
“Accountability” is a word that has many interpretations and is often thrown around in the business world without a clear representation of what it actually means.
Everyone has a different view of what accountability means to them, so your sales team may think something different than you when you “hold them accountable.”
Oftentimes, sales team accountability connotes negativity and punishment when that isn’t always the case.
In fact, when organizations use accountability only for punishment, fear can permeate throughout the employees, making them nervous or unwilling to present new ideas for fear of failure and discipline.
However, if approached correctly, accountability within an organization can produce positive results. Accountability is a must-have for sales team members to both desire and maintain consistent performance.
It improves rep retention and boosts organization culture. In short, when you have sales team accountability, your sales team goals are met, your team works better, and the whole operation runs more smoothly.
All you need to do is create an accountability plan, and follow through on it.
How to Establish and Maintain Sales Team Accountability
You and your team must know what to do, how to do it and why doing it that way is important.
If there isn’t a clearly established system of accountability, your sales team and sales team goals can easily fall apart.
Start with a clear plan that gets your crew on board:
1. Establish clear sales team goals.
These goals should be backed with objective evidence that they can be achieved.
Nothing will be accomplished if the sales team doesn’t know what is expected of them. It can be difficult to do their job when their goals are unclear.
To clear up the murkiness, organization and sales team goals should be established, and your entire sales team should know what both are.
Then, show your sales team evidence that they can realistically achieve those goals. If your team doesn’t believe the goals can be met, they won’t work hard to reach them.
2. Provide the tools your team needs.
Give the team what it needs to achieve the goals. This can include:
- Discussing behaviors required to produce expected results.
- Defined differentiation, as well as target markets.
- Marketing and Operations integration to smooth transitions from leads to active accounts.
- Clear processes for accessing and winning assigned target markets.
- Productivity tools, such as a sales automation system, customized for your unique processes, that easily tracking and manage account progress through the sales process, as well as automate reporting.
3. Follow through on the execution of 1 & 2 above.
If you don’t follow through, your sales team will see there are no consequences for not hitting goals.
The reverse is also true: If promised rewards are not delivered, the team may not work hard because they don’t believe they will be rewarded for closing a sale.
4. Have predefined, consistent, corrective action plans in place.
This step is essential.
If sales team members fall short, corrective action plans can help them improve without the fear of punishment.
There should be no exceptions to this, especially for your top performers. Top performers can become complacent when there are no consequences for behaviors that fall outside the lines.
Reward their exceptional performance in other ways that don’t include free passes on requirements the rest of the team must meet.
Also, for sales team accountability to be thought of in a positive light, regarding exceptional performance will reinforce that performance and inspire other team members to do better.
5. Manage numbers, lead people.
Here’s how to lead people and manage numbers:
- Duplicate and celebrate the wins. When specific elements of your sales process work very well for one team member, duplicate those actions across the entire team.
- Adjust processes for system-wide misses. For example, if everyone is having trouble closing similar deals, adjust the process for that type of deal rather than a blanket correction for the whole team. Show your sales team that you are managing the numbers for their benefit so they all can improve and earn more.
- Coach individuals for specific misses. Not every team member works and thinks the same way. Get into a one-on-one session, join a sales call or meeting with the individual, then review how the miss could have been handled differently and how that difference will help improve their performance for future sales.
Reaching your sales team goals
The end goal with accountability is to see positive results, consistently.
Implementing sales team accountability requires communication, follow through, and meeting stated goals.
Avoid using accountability as a means of punishment. Instead, use it as a way to improve the way sales team members think about what they are doing as well as improve the work environment, which will, in turn, improve your sales.
Accountability is not just about higher sales. Practicing a constructive approach to accountability also improves individual performance, engagement, and participation, as well as increases commitment, creativity, and innovation.
Accountability, properly structured and administered, leads to happier and more productive sales teams.