For most sales organizations, it’s the manager’s job to hold their team accountable. While the organization sets the bars for achievement, such as goals and quotas, managers track performance and meet with team members to gauge progress toward their goals. Ideally, managers and team members share mutual respect and are on the same page. However, what if they do not? What if a manager is ineffective, absent, or temporarily pulled into another project that results in less oversight and leadership of the sales team? The selling process cannot just stop. Regardless of the circumstances, the best sales professionals do not wait for a manager or other authority. Here are a few tips to help sales pros hold themselves accountable for their own success:
Good sellers know the value of routine. It’s why they stick to regular schedules and devote set hours to activities like prospecting or account management. In the same way, salespeople should set aside time to assess where they are in relation to their weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals. They need to be aware of their performance and metrics and should be given access to the tools and reports that will keep them abreast. Much of this can be streamlined and automated, for example, by subscribing them to key reports that fire an update each morning or via CRM dashboards that provide insight into lagging and leading indicators.
Change Things Up
Of course, every routine gets old. Doing the same thing at the same time, it’s easy to fall into ruts. Be your own best manager. Challenge yourself to increase engagement. Change your processes like the days and times you prospect. If you usually cold call in the morning, try the afternoon. If your email templates have gotten stale, create new ones. Part of being accountable means proactively avoiding the ruts and lack of motivation that result from familiarity. In virtual, upgrade your stage with a new background or lighting. If you’re in the office, get competitive and challenge your co-workers. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own success. Take the steps needed to increase motivation and momentum.
As in any evaluation with a manager, sales pros need to look in the mirror and honestly assess their performance. This isn’t always easy, especially with a superior, but it can be even more difficult with ourselves. Whether from fear or insecurity, we must resist the temptation to make excuses or let ourselves off the hook. Here are some tough questions sales pros must ask if they truly hold themselves accountable:
- Was it really bad timing or did other factors contribute to losing the deal?
- What can you do differently?
- Are you leveraging all tools and processes at your disposal?
- Have you really been productive or just keeping busy?
- Are you motivated or is your mind elsewhere?
- Would you benefit from training, coaching, or self-study?
Remember, there can be no real accountability without honesty. At the same time, however, accountability does not mean beating yourself up. If you fall short on any of these questions, take ownership and think of ways you can improve for next time. If you lost your priorities or allowed other factors to interfere, make the needed changes to ensure these things do not happen again.
Many people are motivated by rewards. These can range from anything monetary, like a raise or a bonus, to dinner at a favorite restaurant or a weekend on the golf course. Whatever it is, treat yourself. Too often, people think accountability is negative, like we are putting ourselves on trial or have to provide a precise “accounting” for our every action. If you’re being honest, you should find areas where you not only met but exceeded your goals. Rewards are essential to keeping yourself honest, and a proper accounting notes both the debits and credits on your account.
Data is essential to gauging performance, and effective sales managers know how to use data to hold their reps accountable. Whether you have a manager or not, accountable reps shouldn’t wait to review their sales metrics. Revisiting our earlier point, here are a few additional questions you can ask as you analyze your KPIs:
- Are your activities producing measurable results?
- Do these numbers meet, exceed, or fall short of expectations?
- How do your results compare to your peers and department?
- What can you do to increase your productivity and outcomes?
Remember, when using data to measure performance, so much depends on our expectations. If our expectations were off, the numbers may not seem accurate. Always evaluate results against past performance for a similar time period, whether it’s monthly, quarterly, or yearly, and be sure to account for significant changes in the sales environment.
The best sales reps know that selling is more than job, more than a means to a paycheck. If that’s all it is, praise from a manger or accolades from an organization would be enough. However, those who view selling as helping people solve problems know they must strive to do more and be better. They do it because it makes them feel good, useful, and valuable. These are the sales reps who hold themselves accountable. Like doctors, teachers, and others, they work for more than money. And when you view your work as a higher calling, you hold yourself to the highest standards. You hold yourself accountable for your success.