I had missed lunch the other day, so I stopped at a diner to get some soup and get ready for my last appointment of the day. It is 2:30 in the afternoon, so the diner had few patrons. I settle in and notice a well-heeled parent enters with two young boys.
The two young “gentlemen” begin to create havoc for the staff within 30 seconds. They are darting around the tables; knocking over chairs and condiments. They do not seem to have an inside voice or manners.
The parent is frustrated with their bad behavior. Once a glass is knocked off a table and shatters across the floor. There is a lot of yelling, scolding, tears and dropping the boys into chairs with a significant amount of finger-wagging.
Poor behavior in children and poor accountability with a sales team have a lot in common. The common link isn’t the poorly behaved children nor salespeople who don’t hit their numbers. The commonality is the mindset of the parent and the business leader.
For example, the mindset of a parent might be that they allow the children to operate with few boundaries at home. The kids may run about using loud voices; there isn’t a requirement to sit down and share a meal. Yet, when the children in public the expectation is that sit and act like young gentlemen. This is not fair to the children, or the guy trying to eat soup because the kids just don’t get the requirement for different behavior because they location of the meal changed. The expectations have not been set. The strategy has not been explained. The “Why” has not been given to the children.
The lack of commitment to do what is necessary by Leadership is the number one reason for poor accountability with a sales team. Leadership must drive the commitment from the sales team and create compliance. Leadership must be supported Sales Managers with sales coaching & development that is supportive of the strategy and the execution the team.
We define commitment as setting strong expectations at the beginning. Leadership needs to explain at the beginning the strategy moving forward: this is the strategy, this is the why, and this is our plan to support you.” Most Leaders are comfortable with this messaging, yet they message is usually not as thorough or complete as needed. It is the consequences of non-compliance by a salesperson that is missing.
This messaging is important. The expectation that everyone benefits personally and professionally, if the plan is executed. We expect you to do these things as part of your role in the sales organization, and we will provide you with the support you need. Getting the team to understand the expectation and that the Leader is committed to providing support to help them is critical.
An important point should be made, frontline Sales Managers do not manage the salespeople. They manage the agreed upon activities and behaviors that each sales rep must execute daily/weekly to achieve the desired outcomes. They manage a process. The accountability comes around following a sales process and methodology.
Consequences for a child these days have become easier…just take away the screens. Consequences for salespeople require a few steps and establishment of clarity of goals.
Here is a basic outline for creating Accountability with a sales team:
- Help the salesperson define their personal goals.
- Establish clear revenue objectives (professional goals) defined for each sales rep.
- Connect personal goals with their professional goals. If you hit your revenue goals, you will be able to set aside the dollars for retirement/college fund/boat, etc.
- The Sales Manager helps reverse engineer the daily activities necessary to achieve the revenue objectives.
- Metrics or KPIs are established for activities that the sales rep can control.
- These are usually in 3 buckets: activities/behaviors/mindset
- Establish clarity around what is being measured and how the activities are reported in the CRM.
- The number of calls/meetings weekly
- The number of deals that enter the Pipeline each
- The value the pipeline deals that must be managed
- In addition to basic accountability, front-line sales managers must coach & coach to create a sales pipeline that is balanced.
Consequences should only occur if compliance with the system is clearly defined and understood by all parties. This includes Leadership, Sales Management and Salespeople.
- Leadership must stay committed to the strategy and support the sales organization.
- The sales managers must add value to the salespeople guiding the reps through the sales process and coaching the reps through deals in the pipeline.
- Salespeople must execute their activities and goals.
Clarity is essential. You cannot get upset with someone for not doing what you did not tell them they must do. (You may need to read that sentence a couple of times.)
We recommend a 3 strikes and you are out policy regarding consequences. The goal is not to lose people but to encourage growth. Use the carrot as much as possible. This is the time when everyone’s mettle is tested to be committed to growth and the change that is necessary.
We grow as individuals in that uncomfortable space. We must become more comfortable with being uncomfortable when we do, personal growth, professional growth and revenue growth are the outcomes.
Our mindset is the key aspect of getting through the change. Leadership and Management must be on the same page helping the team believe in the strategy and the tactics will be successful. The salespeople’s mindset may need constant buffering. This is why change is difficult.
Walter is a sales professional with over 30 years of business development, sales, sales coaching and sales management experience in a variety industries and markets across the United States and Canada .
Walter’s leadership style emanates from real world experience, and great training. He understands most front-line sales managers were promoted because they were a top producer, yet they are not given any training around management, nor their most important role as sales coach.
It is essential to provide sales managers, and the entire sales team, clarity of their responsibilities, positive accountability around responsibilities, an effective sales process to understand where they are in the sales cycle, and empathy for missteps.
Sales Managers do not manage people. They manage a process.
Walter is married over 20 years to Heidi, an accomplished professional who is incredibly bright and talented woman. They have a daughter in high school who is a huge source of pride, joy and sometimes vexation. Walter enjoys traveling with his family, sampling interesting wine with his wife, occasionally he burns a fine cigar in his private cigar lounge, and he often finds himself frustrated on the golf course.