Who needs it, right? That ugly word that makes us all…work harder, smarter and process just about every aspect of our lives just a little bit easier.
Why on earth would anyone want to follow the rules and obey the guidelines?
Remember when your mom used to tell you to be home by midnight…or else? What if your mom laid out these guidelines, but never, ever enforced the rules? In the early stages of our upbringing, being accountable teaches us that being responsible for our actions has its consequences, good and bad.
Your mom said it, “or else.” Did you ever cross that line to find out what “else” really meant? Some of us did with regret, while some of us never desired to find out. Either way, it was the fear of crossing that line that created an understanding of being accountable versus being unreliable, untrustworthy or unaccountable.
It’s all about accountability. In fact, everything we do in life is about being accountable, from paying our bills to raising our family. So, why on earth do we avoid accountability? And, when it comes to holding our sales teams accountable for their performances, why don’t we follow through on this important characteristic of accomplishment?
Sales is a funny thing. We want so badly to succeed; however, we cheat the system when we are pushed to explain our actions…or lack of action.
When I first took the proverbial “salesperson oath” nearly 30 years ago, the company I worked for in South Florida had a lengthy action plan for the sales team. However, our team’s response to that plan was far from a stellar performance. Try as they might, the sales manager and company president lacked follow-through, and the uninspired sales team took advantage of that failure.
Our call sheets were handwritten notes we provided to our sales manager for review…weekly.
Our sales manager wanted the team to make a ton of phone calls each week, with half of those being in-person visits. Our call sheets had to have the date, the company name, the person we called on, the conversation, the dollar amount on the project and ultimately, a description of the outcome. Once completed, we passed the sheet in at the end of the week for the sales manager to approve.
When no one answered our calls, we wrote something down to the effect of, “Bill is interested in our services.” And, if we stopped by for a visit and Bill wasn’t in, we’d write down, “Bill is interested in our services.”
We basically circumvented the system.
So, why is it that we avoided the plain and simple truth? Because salespeople generally loath (or fear) accountability.
Is the reason we avoid a responsible answer simply because we just don’t have an answer? Is it because of the time involved in writing down everything to keep track?
Stephen Covey said, “Accountability breeds response-ability.”
Being accountable means you take the bull by the horns.
You make no excuses.
You generate answers in good times and in bad.
And, you put it down in writing for the good of the company’s goals and for a reminder of your individual goals.
So, what does it take to get a sales team inspired to be accountable? It requires leadership, a plan and follow-through. But, more importantly, it requires teamwork.
Hitting sales numbers requires a plan, plain and simple. Without a plan, goals cannot be met. If there is no goal, there is no starting point. And, in order to create a starting point, quality communication within your team is a key ingredient.
Getting everyone in the sales team on board, including the management and/or owner of your organization, is just as important as creating the plan itself. A sales plan establishes the management of the process, the management of the numbers, and the management of the team’s success and failures.
Creating the Plan
What is necessary in the development of a sales plan?
Understand your end game. Know where your company wants to be in a year, five years and 10 years. Set attainable milestones in your plan, and celebrate those victories often!
- A competitive edge
Know your competition and what makes your company unique. Then, BE unique.
How are you going to get from point A to point B? What wheels need to be put in motion for all the working parts to move in the same direction…at the same time?
Try involving the sales representatives in developing the right plan with the right objectives. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can the more senior, experienced salesperson help train the newest members of the team?
Establish a plan that works with the strengths and weaknesses of the team and the individuals. Involve all team members when developing the reporting process — their buy-in is key!
Focus on goals that are attainable. Create metrics to drive the desired results, such as the number of client phone calls, number of appointments set and number of sales closes. Do not overwhelm your sales staff with excessive tracking numbers. Focus on the measures that matter most to the success of your business.
Keep reviewing what works and what doesn’t. Reevaluate if the training, reporting and metrics aren’t matching up to your objectives. Feedback, feedback, feedback…involve your team in this review process.
Accountability requires that everyone in your company be involved in the process. Creating that culture of accountability necessitates that everyone takes on the role of creating the plan and that everyone takes on the responsibility of executing the plan. Finally, it requires that everyone shares in the success and failures of the plan.
That way, no one makes excuses and you all generate quality answers in good times and bad. There is no reason to cheat, lie or circumvent the system if you have a culture the entire team respects.