Accountability is critical to running a successful sales team… but it’s not always easy. Use these four tips to help you keep your salespeople on track.
It’s not always easy to hold an employee accountable. To call them out on their actions. In fact, many in leadership positions avoid this at all costs. As a Sales Manager, though, it’s important that you observe your sales reps and hold them accountable for their behavior. These four approaches will help you effectively communicate the facts about a salesperson’s performance and get them back on track.
1. Clearly define expectations
You cannot hold someone accountable if they do not understand what is expected of them. Let the salesperson know what it means to be successful in the role.
Clearly defining a standard for them to work toward enables you to remove emotion from the conversation and focus concrete facts. Instead of saying something ambiguous like, “You need to hold the line on price and stop discounting,” say, “In order to maximize your full commission, maintain a 12% to 15% margin on all transactions with payment terms longer than 24 months.”
2. Focus on the issue
When having a tough conversation with an employee, stick to the facts. Don’t get caught up in an emotionally charged situation or get defensive about your position. Stay with the issue at hand – failure to meet quota, lack of consistent prospecting, insufficient follow-up, etc. Communicate the specific behaviors that are causing the problem. From that, you can both discuss how to redirect their actions toward more productive means.
3. Connect behaviors with outcomes
A salesperson may not know they are engaged in unproductive activities. Help them understand how good behaviors drive positive results and open their eyes to the impact their actions make on their personal performance and the performance of the team. For example, you may want to help a sales rep understand why failing to qualify buyers is leading to unproductive sales calls which results in lower sales figures for the whole team.
4. Choose words carefully
All of these tips hinge on one important aspect – framing your discussion properly. People do not like to be called out for their actions, so it’s natural to expect defensive behavior from employees under such circumstances. Avoid blaming language by staying away from phrases that start with “you” and “your.” Instead, focus language on their behaviors and the impact those behaviors have.
For example, instead of saying, “You’re not qualifying buyers,” you might say, “Without asking the four urgency questions, prospects may not infer an imminent buying decision and decide to not sign the contract. How will that affect your sales this month?”
In the end, it’s the Sales Manager who is responsible for holding the sales team accountable and ensuring they meet their quota. If your salespeople are not meeting their individual goals, ultimately, the blame falls on you. Use these four steps to have effective conversations about accountability with your team and redirect them to the behaviors that generate the success they’re looking to achieve.