Is your sales team meeting expectations? Try implementing accountability and get your sales goals met while improving the performance of your team.
“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.” Often times, 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 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 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 goals can easily fall apart. Start with a clear plan that gets your sales team on board:
- Establish clear goals, 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 team member 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.
- Provide the tools your team needs to achieve those 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.
- 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.
- Have pre-defined, 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 do not 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, rewarding exceptional performance will reinforce that performance and inspire other team members to do better.
- Manage numbers, lead people.
- 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.
Sales Team Accountability Leads to Positive Results
The end goal with accountability is to see positive results. Implementing sales team accountability means nothing if you don’t communicate, follow through and meet your sales goals. Avoid using accountability as a means of punishment. Instead, use it as a way to improve the working 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. In short, accountability properly structured and administered leads to happier and more productive sales teams. Not sure if your sales processes are driving the accountability you need to drive consistent growth? Take the quick and free Sales Agility Assessment and see right away what your sales operation might be missing. Jon Anderson is President of Sidehill Consulting and provides hands-on service as an Outsourced VP of Sales. He can be reached at [email protected]