Of all the sales leaders we work with, we consistently hear the same adage: “I need to hold my salespeople accountable.” That's fine in theory, but the question that sales leaders must ask themselves first is, “What exactly am I holding them accountable to?”
All too often, the answer we hear back is "closing sales." Here is the challenge we have with that response: it fools us and the members of our team into believing that they've had a winning day only when they've made a sale. Furthermore, when the focus is ONLY on the end-result, their number, their quota, etc. – accountability loses its heart.
It's time for a reality check. In most of the markets in which we work, sales aren't made every day of the year. If we only think of “winning” as closing sales, we set ourselves, our people and our pipelines up for defeat. We also leave out all of those people in non-traditional sales roles. Meaning, those who didn’t go to school to be in sales but are still required to build a book of business.
To understand what the word "winning" in sales means, and what we should be holding ourselves and others accountable to, we need to get a clearer understanding of the definition of sales. Contrary to popular belief, sales is not simply closing deals. Sales is a combination of behaviors, attitudes, and techniques that lead to a series of meaningful and purposeful conversations where we choose to influence and impact the outcome.
We at Sandler are redefining what “win” means. To us, and hopefully to you, a win is a positive outcome. There are in fact five positive outcomes in a selling situation: a “Yes,” a “No,” a “Clear Next Step,” a “Referral,” and a “Lesson Learned.” Of course we want lots of “Yes’s” but the others are just as important to your journey along your sales roadmap. For example, getting a “No” means you have moved something down and out the funnel, you’re not wasting your time on an empty opportunity, and you can focus on other prospects!
With Sandler’s SalesAccountability platform, our goal is for you to Win Your Day every day, no matter what. That requires a few things first, including: the desire to win, the “why” you want to win, and a plan to win.
Think of your plan as a cookbook or a recipe for success. It is a set of specific, measurable and attainable actions you perform every day, week, month and year that support your personal and professional goals. David Sandler, the founder of the world’s leading sales and sales management methodology, identified three critical elements that support successful behavior for salespeople: goals, plans and actions. He also believed you couldn’t control results, but you could control what you do (or not do).
The most critical part of the accountability equation is the salesperson's unique daily behavior plan. Setting a goal without creating a well-crafted plan for achieving that goal is pointless. And setting a goal without assuming personal accountability for taking consistent daily action on that plan is simply wishful thinking!
The moral of the story here is a simple one. If what you are holding your sales team accountable to is "closed sales," your team will have mixed results and you will be a frustrated and ineffective leader. Don't fixate on what’s about to close. Take the time to create a viable, personalized daily behavioral plan that supports each salesperson's income goals and life goals. Then, celebrate all of the milestones your team hits along their roadmap to success.
Once you and the members of your team create accountability on the behaviors and rethink what it means to “win,” you will both find that the closed sales will take care of themselves!