Accountability – the essential ingredient in the sales success cake

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By Andrew Milbourn, CEO at Kiss The Fish

In my experience, successful companies have a plan and a method for holding each individual to account for the delivery of that plan.

Working in a plc environment I knew that as a Sales Director, if I turned up to a finance review meeting when my department (Sales) was not on the promised budget that I had agreed to, I would be in trouble…in fact, my job was on the line. That’s how serious I knew it was for me in corporate land. Repeated failure could mean loss of job. So I made sure I measured every aspect of my sales team’s performance, I had more metrics and performance data than anyone in the business so that I could always know why my team’s performance was up or down against the budget.

In the SME space CEOs & Sales heads very often make the mistake of failing to hold the business to account and I frequently see those businesses stagnate and they don’t even know why their performance isn’t as it should be. A business that doesn’t measure and hold performance to account is likely to be blown around like a ship in a storm with those onboard not knowing if they are sailing into the storm or out of it.

So – what should a CEO or a Sales Director do…

1. Write and agree on the plan for performance. This needn’t be a huge detailed document – a simple orbit diagram with numbers would do. If you haven’t seen one of these get in touch and I’ll email you a copy with some simple instructions.

2 . Make sure every person in your sales team has a target (preferably a S.M.A.R.T. target which should be set above budget to allow for contingencies.

3. Make sure each person knows how they will achieve their target – ask them for their plan and make sure if they don’t know how to plan they are trained with the correct skills (do this monthly).

4. Measure and report on every aspect of each person’s performance…how many client contacts do they attempt each day? How many successful calls do they make each day? How many meetings? How many sales etc etc?

5. Each month sit down with each of your team members and get them to explain their performance…if over or under the expected target…they must know and explain why. Don’t accept a shrug of the shoulders or an ‘I don’t know’ pay them to know so make sure they know what is expected of them.

6. Put some consequences in place and enforce them – salespeople earn a good wage and they should expect to feel the pain of the business if they don’t perform. Of course, market conditions change and they can’t always influence that but they should know why things are happening if that is the case.

7. Don’t let friends or family members off – this is the biggest single problem I see in small businesses where the start-up was with a group of friends or family members It is vital for their benefit that they are held to account the same as everyone else, or they are letting the business down.

Accountability is crucial in sales and across other areas of the business.

If you want to discuss this further I’m happy to offer any CEO a free consultation on the phone or on Zoom to discuss how they can hold their teams to account. My email is andrew@kissthefish

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