March 17

How Great Sales Managers Hold Their Sales Teams Accountable


“How can I do a better job of holding my salespeople accountable? What can I do to improve my sales team’s ability to do what they committed to doing?”  These are frequent questions asked by sales managers, regardless of their industry or type of sales team they manage.

There is not one magic answer, however, there are two strategies that sales managers can apply immediately that will make a significant difference in holding your team accountable. These same strategies create cultures of excellence, not excuses.

#1. Get out of the childcare business. It is difficult to hire a 24-year-old or a 50-year-old child and turn them into an adult.

You do not have the time.

You do not have the training.

These adults, stuck in children’s bodies, are a time suck because they often throw temper tantrums like those of a four-year-old: “I do not want to do it. It is too hard.”

This behavior follows these individuals into their sales career. When a sales manager requests reports and sales pipeline updates, they push back with excuses such as, “I do not have time. Do you want me selling or generating reports?” It is the adult version of a temper tantrum.  

Get out of the childcare business and hire grown-ups. 

Start by examining your hiring and recruiting processes. Does your current process REALLY vet potential candidates for the virtues of accountability and responsibility? A good interview question to test for these competencies is, “Tell me about a time when you achieved a goal in spite of obstacles or other people not doing their part.” 

Accountable salespeople figure out a way to get the job done. 

#2. Look in the mirror and take responsibility for what you see. You may not like the reflection because the problem might be you! (I know from personal experience.) There are several studies that show that a managers leadership style is often the root cause for lack of accountability on their team.

In the sales profession, this happens because sales managers make assumptions. Sales managers assume:

  • A salesperson is crystal clear on desired expectations and outcomes.
  • A salesperson has the skills to achieve expectations.
  • A salesperson is aware of resources by which he or she can turn to for more help.
  • A salesperson agrees on the deadline for achieving expectations.

In additions to assumptions, sales managers fall into the hurried and harried trap. Overwhelmed sales managers shortcut expectation conversations because their calendars are packed with back-to-back meetings.  

The fix. Slow down to speed up.

Take time to make sure you and your salesperson are aligned on expectations and outcomes. Ask clarifying questions to eliminate assumptions. “I want to make sure I am setting you up for success. Let’s discuss and ask each other questions on what good looks like or doesn’t look like for this particular project.”   

How do you hold your sales team accountable? Improve your recruiting and hiring processes. Get out of the childcare business and hire grown-ups.  Eliminate assumptions and take the time to set clear expectations for success.

Good Selling!


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