In a previous post, I discussed some tactical ideas to help sales managers conduct joint sales calls with reps. But joint sales calls are only part of the accountability picture. They must be executed within the framework of a formal sales accountability plan. The truth is this: many sales leaders and sales managers want to talk accountability, but they don't know how to develop a formal sales accountability plan. The right sales accountability plan can drive the right behaviors inside of your sales team and create a "self-policing" culture with built-in accountability.
7 Tips For Developing A Sales Accountability Plan
1. Make sure your organization is measuring the right activities that salespeople should be engaged in on a daily basis. Without a clearly defined set of guidelines around things such as number of self-generated leads, sales presentations to be made in specific time-frames, referrals earned, etc. there will be ongoing confusion about what it is your sales reps must be doing on an ongoing basis. Having clearly defined in-process accountabilities (vs. "just hit your target") is the foundation for any strong sales accountability plan. 2. Hold salespeople accountable for their daily actions. Sales coaching must be delivered in real-time by managers who are willing to address behaviors – both good and bad – with an eye toward continuous improvement. Sales coaching can't just be delivered once a month, for instance. The ideal sales accountability plan needs to include as much face time between sales managers and salespeople as possible. 3. Clearly define the level of responsibility your salespeople have. By providing a clearly defined level of responsibility your reps have, you leave no room for ambiguity or excuses. On the other hand, top-performing salespeople love having a solid idea of exactly what sales success should look like. Great salespeople want to know exactly what they are responsible for in order to develop plans to achieve their goals. 4. Clearly define the level of authority your salespeople have. To what degree does your sales accountability plan detail the level of autonomy your salespeople have to make real-time decisions on their own? To maintain momentum in the sales process and ultimately make sales happen, your reps need to know exactly what they can – and can't - do in order to take care of customers, make price concessions, negotiate, pull customer support in, etc. 5. Make absolutely sure that the levels of responsibility and authority your salespeople have match. Responsibility and authority are at the very core of any good sales accountability plan. If these are not assigned in clear and equal levels, a host of problems are in store for the entire sales organization. Too much responsibility and too little authority equals frustration. Too much authority and too little responsibility equals abuse of power. Make sure there's a balance. 6. Reward your salespeople for doing the right things. Positive reinforcement is far more powerful than negative reinforcement. Clarify the expectations of your sales accountability plan and provide your reps the tools to achieve the milestones. Give them the coaching they need to hit their goals. Then... recognize them for positive achievements. 7. Build your sales compensation plan to drive the desired outcomes and behaviors. In any high-performing organization, the sales pay plan helps to drive whatever it is the organization wants to have happen. It's another way to hold the salespeople accountable in a very objective, straightforward way. Whether the goal is high margin sales, high volume sales, or increased sales of a certain product or service, an effective pay plan can drive a sales accountability plan.