A sales team can learn a lot from a championship sports team. An organization sets their sights on the prize and finds the right people to guide them there. The coach looks at the team and the competition to create a winning strategy. Players are assigned roles and performance expectations are set.

Throughout the course of the season the coach identifies areas of improvement and works to maximize performance, even shifting strategies when necessary. The players own their responsibilities and find ways to utilize their individual strengths to meet the expectations. When everyone does their part, the team gets to lift the winning trophy and celebrate their hard work.

Incredible individual talent and brilliant strategy help a team succeed but the real secret sauce is accountability. Coaches measure performance through player stats because it’s what can be measured, can be improved. Accountability is established by setting goals with clear expectations and making sure players accept responsibility for their results. However, it’s important to also recognize that creating an accountable sales culture has just as much to do with your own ability to set up your team for success.

Keeping Stats and Tracking Performance

This is the usual place to start when you are looking at holding your people accountable. While your impulse may be to measure absolutely everything, that might not necessarily be gathering the information you need.

How Can I Build an Accountable Sales Culture?

Ideally, the sales dashboards you create are to track your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). What you want to do is make sure those KPIs are outcome-driven so that when the salespeople are following your defined sales process, you can stay focused at a high level by measuring results and watching for break-down areas that may need your attention.

If you aren’t getting the results you need, it might be time to reevaluate the players on your team and make sure the activities you track are the things that you know lead to sales.

Of course you want to see if your team is reaching out to prospects, setting up meetings, and turning opportunities into sales. What you don’t want to do is bog down this process by forcing your people to track each and every step along the way if they aren’t being measured by those steps. Using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to track all activities can help speed up your sales process and improve measurements but that is a whole other matter that I’ll save for a future article.

Owning The Process

A coach looks for attitudes and behaviors that show the players are bought into the goal and the steps necessary to get there. Once the goals are set and agreed to, it is up to the players to get the results. Not only are they responsible for the outcome, but they are also responsible for the entire process of practice, preparation, and ultimately their game day performance.

What you are looking for in an accountable sales organization is your people know that they own their results. Good or bad, their outcomes are a result of their actions taken and not the result of things beyond their control. Sure, they might have a bad month or quarter even, but if they consistently own their results, follow a proven process and work to improve, they will likely find some measure of consistent success.

You need people who can be disciplined to follow the clearly outlined steps you want them to take in order to close a deal. If they are bought in, you have players that executes the team strategy in a predictable and repeatable way which means you can focus on results and have more time to develop helpful sales tools.

Being the Coach

Let’s assume your defined sales process is the right path for your team to follow. The market is ripe and provided that your team has the talent and drive to close more deals, it’s your job to make sure you set your people up to succeed.

Routinely monitor your sales dashboard. Do the KPIs tell you something is wrong? If so, make a plan to fix it. Change your strategy for a shifting market. What you are measuring should be exposing the issues and if it isn’t, then you’re missing some important success indicators.

How Can I Build an Accountable Sales Culture?

Don’t wait for something to go wrong before you look for improvement. Take the time to invest in your sales team. Have 1:1 meetings set up to review progress and provide help in areas you see are limiting their success. Dive in and help them improve their skills to navigate the obstacles they are encountering more effectively. Train them to the best of their ability and the results will follow.

One of the toughest jobs for a coach is letting players go. Being accountable means that when results aren’t met, then process adoption needs to be evaluated. The player is responsible for their actions on and off the field. If they are no longer trying, constantly looking for excuses, or finding something to blame when things don’t work out it’s time to let them go. If this result comes as a surprise to anyone involved, then you just aren’t making accountability a part of your culture.

How Do I Hold Salespeople Accountable?

  • Create a sales process that drives results and train your sales team to navigate it
  • Track stage-based outcomes that illustrate productive sales process progression
  • Clearly explain what you expect your team to do and how you will measure their progress towards their goals
  • Invest the time in 1:1 meetings to ensure your players are given everything they need to succeed

I have decades of experience building winning, results-driven sales cultures and would enjoy sharing that value with you. If you are looking to build heightened levels of accountability within your sales organization, contact me at (773) 203-7086 or jmcleod@salesxceleration.com.

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I am part of a national group of Senior Sales Leaders who collaborate to share insights like the examples shown in this article. We formed because of our shared passion to help business leaders exponentially grow their revenue.