Accountability: The Key to Sales

Filed in Business Management by on February 14, 2018 4 Comments

cogsHave you ever noticed how people who enroll in a weight-loss program that involves accountability and long-term maintenance most often do better than those who try to go it alone? The same is true in sales.

It is not enough to simply “train” your team with a one-shot, one-size-fits-all motivational “rah, rah.” Often, I am invited by a company to do training on a particular discipline with the sales team because there is the feeling that the team “is not closing enough” or “they are not doing enough to drive traffic,” or their “follow-up needs work,” etc.

However, once I begin, I often discover that there is more of a systemic breakdown and that those particular challenges are merely a symptom of a greater issue.

Sales people, like any other, perform in direct proportion to the level of expectations set, and when those expectations are reinforced, coached and inspected. Yet all too often, we leave these sales people out in the field alone without a weekly planned encounter.

We are not working with them on their very specific and time-oriented goals, or even giving them a road map on how to reach those goals and checkpoints along the way where we, as leaders, should be stepping in to guide them. Then, when our sales teams fall short, we start to make excuses for them about what the competition is doing, or they did not have enough traffic. And then we wonder why we are not getting results.

When you hold sales people accountable, they will resist — until they start seeing results. Once those results start to happen, and we celebrate those results with them, the desire sets in to not only repeat the results, but to up the ante. The key is we have to hold ourselves accountable to be the leader our team needs.

Sales results happen in the field, not in your office or corporate headquarters. You must be in the field, spending quality time with your team every week. If you can’t spend at least two to three hours, one on one, with each member of your sales team every week, then either your territory is too large or your priorities are not straight.

You must have, in writing, minimum performance expectations, have each one of your sales staff sign it and have it placed in their files. You can’t make exceptions. Reward not only results, but effort. Celebrate successes every step of the way.

Finally, hiring a trainer/consultant adds credibility to your efforts. This may sound familiar to parents, who often notice how their kids will listen to a teacher or a coach, but the same advice from a parent falls on deaf ears.

Your team can perform at a higher level. Successful teams are focused; they have a plan and they are disciplined in working that plan. They know the only way to get out of a hole is to stop digging, and start filling it in by getting more and better sales!

Management consultant Kimberly Mackey is the founder of New Homes Solutions and a Tampa Bay Builders Association member. This post is adapted from a story in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue of Sales + Marketing Ideas. Download the Sales + Marketing Ideas app on iTunes or Google Play to read it.  

Comments (4)

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  1. This is a far more complex topic than space permits in the article. It would be great if folks would chime in with more specific challenges they have so we could all share some best practices in a discussion here. For instance, are you struggling to get out of the office once you get there in the morning? Or how about managing the meeting schedule of the main office with the need to be out in the field? These are just examples, feel free to share others or offer your best practices by leaving comments below.

  2. Brad Taylor says:

    Over the last 8 years I’ve trained over 800 Sales Specialists, nationwide and couldn’t agree more.
    I found this article to be, not just accurate, for those who have identified this through their own experiences, but also eye-openining for those tasked with delivering sales results at any level of sales. Consider your Sales Process.
    Clear, concise, and consequential, or what I refer to as, The Three C’s. Clear expectations on business objectives, Concise metrics, which account for those expectations, and Consequences be them good or bad are imperative elements to effectively motivating any sales person or team. Arbitrary accountability practices and experiential learning only produce defeat and disenfranchisement. Sales managers must capitalize on the most common professional sales person characteristic, emotion. Most any sales professional will undoubtedly hear, “no,” more than they will hear, “yes,” throughout his/her career, therefore most sales professionals already display some amount of perseverance. Perseverance, however, stems from internal fortitude, which if left uncultivated will only lead to self preservation. This never benefits the business, but if that perseverance is channelled and developed in accordance with your respective sales goals and process it becomes purposive, as the emotional byproducts of hearing, either, “yes” or “no” are no longer the burden. Instead, the well trained and well equipped sales professional, becomes more concerned about delivering sales that are conducive to your business, brand, and integrity.. This leads to deliberate qualifying of prospects and those prospects needs, which always increases the number of “yes’s” sales professionals will hear.

  3. Terry Hucks says:


  4. Keith says:

    I put my Realtor hat on after reading the article a couple of times and it made me think of the relationship a Realtor has with their client. Clients have an expectation of Realtors to sale their home. So it is up to the Realtor to go over those expectations up front and in writing. Realtors should be talking with their clients about very specific goals and check points and reviewing these items against the results on a weekly basis.

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