OK, I won’t make you read to the end here so comes an early spoiler alert!
For Salespeople, that behaviour is Responsibility, and to complete the equation, for the Sales Manager it is Accountability. Both in equal doses!
What if I was to tell you that based on evidence and science based data only 11% of salespeople demonstrate best practice in Responsibility?*.
And what if I was to tell you that from the evaluations I work with and with over 16,000 surveyed, 57% of sales managers demonstrated best practice Accountability?* (and this dropped to 42% for family run businesses).
Now before you roll your eyes, hang in here for a bit.
Sales leaders know they are to hold their people accountable, but the truth is that many really don’t know how. They are in leadership roles and yet don’t know how! And some of those that do, won’t!
Some think that micro-managing is what they should do and others think that just focussing on the numbers is what they are supposed to do, while others think ‘free reign’ is acceptable.
For those of us with kids, it’s a bit like parenting. How do we make sure our children become responsible contributors to the world and still have them love us?
In business, how do we make sure our salespeople become responsible contributors to the business and still have them respect us?
If we continue with the analogy of parenting, it’s a case of making sure our kids realise a couple of things:
- There is a code of conduct in the house
- There are consequences for inappropriate behaviour
- There is always a conversation to be had around expectations
- Everyone has tasks to perform in order to make the household run smoothly
- The home is always a safe space for mistakes to be made.
- We respect and love each other, no matter what.
At around seven years of age, the human brain shifts focus and decides it’s time to step up. After being joined at the hip, sharing their parents thinking and living in a fairy-tale world of princesses and astronauts, kids step into a new phase of thinking and reality at this age.
Their levels of consciousness, their logic as well as their emotional stability takes on a new form and their brain takes on a new level of internal and external awareness. Some parents sense the shift and will educate their kids to a more adult way of viewing the world especially for the future, whilst others continue to treat them as the children they still are and once were.
This is the Accountability Stage.
It’s when kids can start to see that there is a payoff for doing things themselves instead of having things done for them. It’s when they can use their own logic to achieve results for themselves without being asked. It’s when they realise the rewards they receive by taking on more responsibilities causing them to want to do more. It’s the brain’s pre-frontal cortex kicking in.
Kids are capable of taking on responsibilities and being held accountable at this age because their brains can cope and they realise they can stand in their power.
So where does a salesforce sit when it comes to Responsibility and Accountability?
Well if we agree with Freud’s three personalities, then we would have to surmise that there is a percentage of salespeople and sales leaders who operate in each:
- The child – someone who blames others, takes credit from others, makes excuses, lives in a fantasy world, continually sidesteps, cheats and takes shortcuts
- The parent – someone with a this is my way or the highway mentality, who operates from an ‘I’m telling you what to do’ angle, uses language such as ‘because I said so’, a bully.
- The adult – someone who asks rational questions, who listens, gives the benefit of the doubt, holds people accountable and demonstrates patience and respect.
Just as kids we learnt our times tables, understood currency, sang our alphabet (even if it was to Sesame Street) and represented our school House in some kind of sports, it was preparing us for our future. It was ensuring that we could go out into the big wide world and make something of ourselves. Responsibility and accountability!
Just as we had to do the dishes and the lawns and babysit and do the newspaper run – it was preparing us for our future and ensuring we could be independent and make choices that set us up for success. Responsibility and Accountability!
The same responsibilities and accountabilities apply today in business – for both the leader and the salesperson. Same horse. Different jockey.
Because the secret is in having a room filled with adults.
And adults look like:
- Sees the bigger picture and define their objective
- Is not obsessed with being liked, rather appreciative of being respected
- Can say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ at exactly the right times
- Is able to address the unacceptable behaviour and not the person
- Will not drop the ball on their reporting and administration duties
- Is responsive to others and aware of others
- Realise their behaviour impacts more than them
- Is able to say ‘Fair cop, the buck stops with me’
- Has a beginners mind
- Makes decisions not excuses
- Takes feedback and then says, ‘thank you’
- Says ‘yes I will’ and does!
It’s about preparing yourself for YOUR future. And that future will depend on you being more responsible and holding yourself and those around you to be more accountable.