Even if your company employs the best sales professionals, there’s no guarantee of success. In our last post, we looked at some secrets of high-performing sales teams. One thing the top performers all share is a high level of accountability in sales.
In many organizations, this word has acquired a bad reputation. Accountability is about much more than punishment and managers looking over the shoulders of their sales reps, though. It should be about making sure your team is on the right track and meeting sales goals. It’s also about rewarding top performers. Salespeople who are held accountable perform at a higher level and are more motivated.
Is your sales team being held accountable?
Align Expectations and Goals
This is where your accountability plan needs to start. In order to effectively hold salespeople accountable, they need to know what they’re being held accountable for. A plan without specific and shared goals and expectations isn’t much use to anyone.
In creating this part of your plan, focus on developing expectations for the entire sales team as well as individuals. This process doesn’t have to alienate sales management from the rest of the team; come up with goals as a team to give everyone some ownership of the process.
This stage of developing an accountability plan is a great opportunity to focus on alignment. A sales team that is on the same page as far as expectations and goals is an effective team. Thinking more broadly, use this chance to make sure everyone has the same clear understanding of your company’s mission and vision.
Create Clear Consequences and Rewards
Do your sales professionals know what’s at stake? Sales team accountability doesn’t mean much if there’s nothing to lose or gain.
After you’ve defined expectations for your team members, it should become clear whether or not they’re meeting those expectations. An important part of holding sales reps accountable is having set consequences for underperformance. A lack of any consequences can be detrimental to the drive and motivation of your team.
Of course, it’s important to focus on the positive side of accountability as well. Recognizing the successes of your sales reps will do great things for morale and drive.
There are several ways you can go about rewarding your employees. How frequently will you issue rewards? This will help determine the size of the reward. Rewards that are given weekly, for example, should be smaller than those that are awarded monthly.
Also, consider how public the rewards are. Rewards that are given in private may be effective in motivating the recipient, but they do nothing to motivate the team. Generally speaking, recognition from peers and acknowledgement of well-deserved rewards are high on the list of motivators for sales professionals.
Make Sales Activity Transparent
How competitive is your sales team? Many effective sales professionals have a competitive streak, and this is something you can leverage in your accountability plan.
One way to let your sales reps know where they stand is to make your sales numbers transparent. Instead of only displaying them at sales meetings, find a way to broadcast them where they’re always accessible. This can be via mobile app or a display in the office.
In this way, the competitiveness of your sales team provides them with their own motivation. They also get realtime feedback about their performance and how close they are to a reward or consequence.
Coach Your Team
There’s another necessary element when it comes to holding your sales team accountable: coaching. It isn’t much use to hold your team accountable for something they aren’t equipped to handle. If your sales reps aren’t meeting expectations, it’s important to consider whether you’ve given them the proper tools for success.
Sales leaders need to offer guidance to their team members for them to be held accountable. Without this step, sales goals can be unrealistic and hurt the motivation of your sales team. In addition to enacting consequences for underperforming salespeople, be sure to first consider whether you can provide coaching that will improve their performance.
Following up with your sales team is a crucial part of maintaining an accountability plan that works. You should do follow-ups both with individuals and with the entire sales team. They should also happen at regular intervals, i.e. a weekly sales meeting followed up by individual one-on-ones
The purpose of the check-ins is two-fold. First, it’s beneficial for your sales team members to know exactly when they’re going to be assessed and held accountable. If they have a one-on-one meeting every week or two they’re less likely to lose motivation than if they had sporadic, semi-monthly meetings.
Second, follow-ups give the sales team opportunities to provide feedback on the sales process and accountability plan. If multiple team members have similar concerns or problems, management will know what needs attention.
This ties in with the previous point regarding coaching. The individual follow-ups in particular will highlight the specific struggles underperforming sales reps are experiencing. Your sales managers can then address these in training and sales meetings.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Setting your team up for success with sufficient training, creating clear expectations, and then following up with your team is all part of accountability, but so is leading by example.
There’s little that’s more inspiring than a leader who publicly holds himself accountable and little that demotivates more than one who doesn’t. Sales leaders can hold themselves accountable by offering guidance to the sales team when goals aren’t met and by championing the successes of others when they are.
It’s important to remember that your company’s sales management and sales reps are on the same team. Accountability doesn’t have to create an “Us vs. Them” attitude, and it shouldn’t.
Is Your Business Accountable?
Holding your sales professionals accountable means more than just penalizing poor performance. It means recognizing the successes and failures of the sales department in your organization. Good accountability provides support when goals aren’t met and at the same time rewards for great performance. It’s instrumental in helping your team realize its highest potential.
If you haven’t already, spend time creating an accountability plan for your sales team. It’s one of the best ways to make sure your team meets sales goals and performs as well as possible.
We Can Help Your Sales Team with Accountability
To expedite meeting and exceeding your sales goals, it might be time to call in reinforcements. Schedule your free consultation here to find out how we help sales teams break sales records.