While every member of your sales team is independently responsible for their own behavior, it is up to you as the Sales Manager to coach them to greatness. To lead by example is good practice as a mentor, but in order to create a culture of accountability within your team, you must establish expectations early on and enforce them on a continual basis. The specific expectations that you set will vary depending on the unique needs of your organization, but all will fall into one of these 3 categories:
- Minimum Performance Standards
- Administrative and Housekeeping Compliance
- Personal Development
As you develop your own set of expectations for your sales organization program, keep in mind the following 5 principles in order to increase performance and accountability in your salespeople.
1. Less is More
It’s important for your team to know that their performance will be held to a high standard, but ask of them too much and your most important expectations will begin to lose emphasis. If you want your demands to be taken seriously, try keeping your concrete expectations to a minimum. For certain this list should stay under 10, and aim for under 5 to create the biggest impact and likelihood for adherence.
2. Have the Right Mix of Results vs Activities
Sales Leaders can’t always control the outcome of a deal—that’s part of the game. What they can do, however, is influence the outcome by choosing what to focus on during the process. Inputs (like number of discovery meetings, number of proactive ideas provided to accounts, etc.) should be where 75% of your attention lies, with the remaining 25% being left for outputs (total sales, number of new accounts won, percentage of goal met, etc.). The biggest mistake that sales managers make is to merely assess numbers at the end of the month, instead of identifying opportunities to influence those numbers along the way. Once your monthly numbers are out, it’s too late.
3. Deliver with Clarity
If you want the expectations you have set to be met, you need to make sure your sales team knows exactly what they are responsible for. In order to increase adherence and accountability, reps should clearly and specifically be told what is expected of them. Describe in detail what success looks like, as well as what is completely unacceptable. Creating a written document detailing the expectations in your sales organization—and having reps sign it—is the best way to gain agreement from your team members.
4. Establish a Formal Cadence
All the work you put into communicating expectations may never see fruition if you don’t establish regular meetings to evaluate compliancy. Whether your sessions are weekly, monthly, quarterly—or all of the above—having a time dedicated to review, measure, and coach to performance standards is crucial. Don’t just analyze sales performance, but also include reporting standards and whether your reps have taken any individual actions towards self-improvement (courses, seminars, etc.). Without follow up, expectations will not be taken seriously.
5. Involve Your Team
Setting performance expectations should involve not only your criteria, but input from your salespeople as well. Involve your reps as much as possible in the process, and at the very minimum, have them contribute to the follow-up process. Employee involvement helps to establish a sense of ownership in the expectations that are set, as well as a commitment to meeting them. We support what we help create. For more on setting standards for employee accountability, Michael Henry Cohen’s “What You Accept is What You Teach” is a fantastic resource.