If you manage a high-performance sales team, get comfortable (maybe grab a drink) and prepare to take notes on a critical subject: sales accountability.
Before you worry: That’s not coded language for micromanaging.
You probably define accountability differently than other sales managers. But even if you have the most skilled sales reps on your team, there’s no guarantee of success if they don’t own their mistakes and do what’s necessary to improve.
Think about it: Why would you be motivated to try harder if you don’t feel responsible for your results?
With an accountable sales team, you can expect to reach sales goals faster thanks to better alignment of those goals –– and the expectations. Plus, it boosts company culture, retention, and smoother workflows.
Learning to be accountable is a must for every rep on your team. But don’t forget: It’s even more important for leaders like you to know how to bring it out of them.
Five ways to grow sales accountability and a powerful team
1. Coach + motivate
If you want your reps to be more accountable (i.e., take more ownership), you should understand that they can’t meet your expectations without guidance and coaching.
Try these strategies to boost your team’s sales accountability with productive motivation:
💡 Provide constructive feedback. Regularly provide feedback about wins and losses. For example, in weekly one-on-ones, discuss (but don’t reprimand) mistakes to improve performance and always celebrate progress.
💡 Have corrective actions in place. It’s not the end of the world if your sales team falls short — just create a written plan of action that arms them with the right strategies to compensate and let them know it’s not a consequence or a punishment.
💡 Think beyond money. Commission checks are sweet, but they’re not every sales rep’s #1 motivator. Understand your teams’ personal and professional goals, then use them to hold your agents accountable. If a salesperson dreams of a two-week trek through Europe, use that as leverage to help them meet their sales goals and take that trip.
💡 Provide the tools. Are you blaming your reps for their lack of accountability when they don’t have the tools to succeed? Big yikes. Make sales goals more accessible by defining target markets, integrating marketing and sales, using a CRM to manage accounts and automate processes, and making sure to discuss behaviors that lead to expected results.
It’s not fair to expect your team to take ownership over the work they can’t handle. Plus, without insight into their motivations, it’s a gamble they’ll even be responsible for their work.
2. Define a measurable process (and stick to it!)
Your sales team can’t be accountable or successful if you don’t have a defined and replicable sales process to follow — not to mention one that lets you measure its performance beyond the revenue it adds to your bottom line.
After all, how can you be a good sales leader and coach if you don’t evaluate your team’s behaviors through clear performance standards and KPIs?
To help mold your reps into accountable sales pros, implement a process that clearly defines how to move deals from one stage to the next. By doing so, you’ll have both the visibility you need to identify weaknesses and data to inform your improvement plans.
If you don’t measure your team’s performance, you can’t effectively manage it –– or gauge the quality and quantity of pipeline activities at each stage.
In a nutshell, lack of follow-through and a messy sales process to boot means sales reps will follow your lead, and as a result, you can say adios to accountability.
3. Transparency is 🔑
What’s better than taking first place? Winning the top spot publicly and getting rewarded for it.
If you lead a competitive team, a simple way to improve sales accountability is to fuel their energy with transparency around sales numbers.
You can use a leaderboard display in the middle of the office or go the mobile route by posting sales numbers on an app or online dashboard. With competitive stats on view, you tap into each rep’s innate desire to win.
Here’s how: Together with your team, decide on rewards for the rep who earns the highest sales numbers for the week (or month), plus some conspicuous but viable consequences for low performers (think: lunch-fetcher for the week).
As a bonus, this kind of transparency will motivate your sales team members to seek feedback about their performance and how they can improve.
4. Always aim for alignment
In the 2002 film “Drumline,” an HBCU band director (Orlando Jones) coins the phrase, “One band, one sound.”
Sure, he was talking to his drum corps, but the message also holds true for sales.
Each member of your team uniquely contributes to sales success, but it takes a unified front to accomplish goals and deliver results that represent your brand in a focused way.
To get your reps on the same page without discouraging them from owning their own approaches, establish sales expectations individually and as a team.
“Alignment is crucial for a sales team because every person plays a vital role in the success of the team,” says Taylor Robinson of Map My Customers.
“Set your team up for success by having a clear, consistent message of what’s expected of them and frequently meet to ensure alignment long-term.”
You want your sales reps to win. Make things plain, so they know the goals they’re accountable for. That way, your band members can diversify ways to achieve a cohesive sound that aligns with your mission and values.
5. You’re not exempt — hold yourself accountable, too
As you develop your team’s accountability, remember: Sales reps won’t claim responsibility for the sales process if you don’t lead by example.
Rather than take credit for the W’s and deflect the L’s, be an open resource. Ensure your team knows you’re one of them and that you’ll back them up when things go south.
For sales mastery and increased accountability, ask yourself these questions:
- Does every member of your team follow the same sales process?
- Can sales reps specifically describe what happens at each stage?
- Does each team member have a success plan that spells out the activities they should perform and how often they’re expected to reach income targets?
- Can you trust your sales reps to be self-sufficient?
- Do you defend your team’s efforts publicly the same way you celebrate them?
👉 Pro-tip: If you said “no” to some of these questions, it’s time to re-evaluate your leadership approach.
Make room for fun (read: take a chill pill!)
Why so serious, sales managers? No matter what you sell, this line of work can be stressful.
Plus, after one too many objections and a rigid work environment, it gets harder to maintain a positive sales mindset.
That’s why it’s essential to build team morale by incorporating fun, stress-free activities alongside your work. Happy employees make the best employees, so show your team you care about their well-being just as much as you do their quarterly sales numbers.
Need some ideas? Try incorporating these activities to boost morale:
- Gather the team for group charity work with a local organization.
- “The Office’s” Dunder Mifflin employees loved to hate The Dundies, but the banquet always brought the team together. Try hosting an award show where each team member awards a colleague for their hard work.
- Organize a potluck.
- Build team communication and book an escape room.
- Acknowledge each birthday.
Keep in mind that with you as a trusted ally, sales reps will feel more confident to embrace failure as they rise to the challenge of accountability.
Let’s keep talking about accountability! This time, the focus is on your sales tech. Watch this webinar to learn why CRM and sales processes are the problems — plus, what does the right tech stack for modern selling look like? Check it out to learn this and way more.