Hold Your Sales Team Accountable

I am surprised how often I’m asked about accountability. The feeling you are “babysitting” and not wanting to micromanage your salespeople is bogus.

Holding your people accountable creates urgency, focus and positive pressure to perform. Having a clear vision can drive better results.

Success is a direct result of well-defined expectations. Typically, we hesitate to hold others accountable when we know deep down that we really never laid out the proper steps to get there. The result? Keeping an employee too long because there is no real clear-cut reason to let them go. It’s hard to tell them they aren’t “cutting it” if you’ve never defined what “cutting it” is.

As Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s hard to be aggressive when you’re confused.”

Vague performance standards, such as “We expect you to work your hardest,” will leave your people lost. Clear expectations should come with clear consequences. Stringent standards for accountability will demonstrate benchmarks for performance.

In business, we need to deal with what is controllable. In sales, it’s the same. The belief that sales is “a personality business,” means people might not consider what is controllable.

That’s why it is imperative managers understand what each salesperson is doing every day, every week, every month. This is something that needs to be set early on. Success can be tracked by understanding what is working and what isn’t. This is both the basic and most important underlying reason for accountability.

Consider these three tips for holding others accountable:

Provide the tools. Allow your salespeople to reach their goals, with one-on-one coaching, training and constructive criticism.

• Analyze performance. Give your salespeople clear expectations with standards that have obvious minimums. Make sure to apply penalties when your sales team doesn’t hit the mark. If you have good people, they will work hard to make the mark, as long as they know what it is.

• Let them work. After you make clear to your salespeople the goals they should reach for, don’t sit there and look over their shoulder while they’re working. Let them set their own goals, then meet with them regularly to review progress. ♦

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com.

Greta Schulz
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