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Bill Blades, CMC, CPS
5405 South Abbey
Mesa, Arizona 85212

Telephone: (480) 556-1467

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In Sales, it's all About Accountability

One of the biggest challenges to overcome, for boosting a salesperson's and sales team's effectiveness is to avoid drift…and you accomplish that by way of accountability.

Aristotle, a man of superior intellect, shared how to achieve success: "The way to achieve success is first to have a definite, clear, practical ideal - a goal, an objective". Following that, he said we must have the necessary tools such as materials and wisdom to achieve the goal(s).

This is the same type of thinking and action necessary for sales people and sales chiefs to excel: setting goals and holding everyone accountable. Here are some proven methods I utilize to insure my clients' success.

1) Establish clear and specific position descriptions and a measurement device to routinely monitor the individual's progress. These two tools state not only major goals such as "meet or exceed revenues of $3,000,000", but specific objectives with deadline dates for each objective.

A goal, such as $3,000,000 in revenues may not be reached without objectives such as laying out the monthly objectives for each major client. The sales chief and the salesperson agree to both documents before the new year begins. The initial step to avoid drift has set the process in motion.

2) Monitor the expectations. On a monthly basis, you need to have an informal evaluation of the individual's progress of lack of. This is usually accomplished in 30-60 minutes and can be done by telephone, if necessary. Review every component listed in # 1) above. Praise when appropriate, be straightforward with the shortcomings, lay out specific short-term action steps and agree on the assistance the salesperson will receive.

On a quarterly basis, you must have a formalized evaluation which is more in-depth and always in-person. Always, issue a written follow-up to insure there is not any misunderstanding of the immediate action steps that the individual will initiate or improve.

3) Training can not be haphazard. On-going training, with accountability is a crucial step in the process. The challenge is that many organizations are clueless as to why most training efforts fail.

The primary reason for training failure is asking me to come in and give a motivational speech. That's antiquated Sales Training 101. I don't do "gigs" anymore. If, on the other hand, you tell me your group's needs and you hold them accountable for the skills and ideas I present to them, I do that. It's Sales Training 501 that proves to be a tremendous investment - not an event that is forgotten about. In other words, why have me present new ways to be more effective if you allow them the option of whether they implement them or not.

Most minds are at their best when inventing reasons to avoid change. Holding them accountable for 10 ideas I present will be a big success. Then, we assign another 10 ideas to act on the following month. And then…And we monitor their implementation monthly.

4) One-on-one coaching not only augments training, but it is almost always more beneficial.

Each salesperson has different needs so my action step is to complete a personality profile (sales version) to assist me with a meaningful, hard-hitting and beneficial coaching session. My job is to make them more aware of certain areas for improvement, tell them the truth (I often hear "I wish someone had told me this years ago.") and obtain agreement that they need to complement their regimen with newly-found areas of improvement.

Accountability? We reach agreement on 9 to 15 specific areas and I insure the sales chief or I follow up within one week. Then, in two more weeks, etc. As with all steps, failure to act on the new skills is not an option. Failure reminds us that the only thing worse than employee turnover is when there is none when there should be.

Oh, and I provide ample 180 degree feedback to the sales chief during this process as they also need to understand how to better lead each of their individual salespeople. He or she can't just have a window to see everyone’s' shortcomings so I provide him/her with a mirror.

5) I make joint calls with sales people for several purposes.

The primary reason is to help them plan and execute the best sales visit they have ever conducted. Secondly, we want it to be the best sales presentation the client has ever witnessed. The benefit is that both parties get to see what a great sales visit looks like.

Some basic steps we go through include:

  • Brief me on our history (if any) with this client.
  • Tell me why they don't buy from us.
  • Tell me the personal value you have provided. The lock starts to open at this point.
  • More "tell me, tell me" followed by "I don't know". That's okay as it's part of
    the reason why I'm with the salesperson. To think.
  • Prepare and conduct a needs analysis visit and avoid useless chit-chat.
  • Send the client a letter to paint a picture of our visit.
  • For on-the-spot value, I sign one of my books.
  • More value comes when they begin asking me for advice.
  • Now, we have already earned the right to ask for business. Yes, I hold my
    clients' clients accountable too.

Sales and Marketing Management/Equation Research reported in the magazine's November, 2004 issue that "42% of 355 respondents say their reps are least motivated to make cold calls". They are least motivated because they have repeatedly made undesirable visits with undesirable results. I love the smell of cold calls in the morning.

How does accountability come into play by teaching them how to plan for and conduct great sales visits and cold calls? Following that, we monitor their pre-call planning plus the proper quality of prospecting.

6) Accountability calls for a great V.P. of Sales who is in a great role to influence salespeople’s' lives, our process and the outcome. The process always starts at the top and the truth begins on day one. Smart people check their egos at the door as they understand my coaching role is to help them be the top-rated sales chief in the industry - nothing less. V.P. of Sales is not a title. It's a responsibility bestowed to you. The process will not bear fruit without accountability - to yourself.

It's the same reason I don't do gigs anymore.

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