Why is Accountability A Bad Word?

No matter the size of the media company, one universal truth of sales failure is lack of formal accountability within the sales team.  When I mention the word you can see managers get red and sales people get fire in their eyes.  But why?  When did accountability become such a bad?  I truly believe it is because we wait until there is a problem to put accountability metrics in place.    
As a part of my ad sales training process I teach that accountability can be very comforting to the sales person if it is put in place from day one.  Knowing what someone expects of you is a critical part of your ability to exceed their desires.  Instead most managers give sales people the benefit of the doubt or they give a sales person “enough rope to hang themselves”.  Not so brilliant, but very common.  It is much easier up front to be someone’s pal than their boss.  So, from day one accountability is out the window.  Or, the only accountability metric is a number based sales goal.  The long term success of a sales team lies in their execution of a finely tuned sales process where accountability is a part of the total sales system.    
Here are 10 fundamental accountability essentials to put into place in your sales process and organization.      
1.  Identify and preach the 3 parts of the sales process; prospecting, in-progress selling and retention.  Each part is unique and has unique accountability metrics within.  
2.  Create a process for each part of the sales process.  Explain to the team that adherence is not optional.  You are putting these systems in place to identify repeatable patterns of success to help all on the team.  Perhaps you have no idea what needs to be in your ad sales process? Please read my book Selling Backwards, find it online at http://SellingBackwards.com
3.  Create a time in each sales meeting for sharing success stories.  Use these success stories to create a winning process. Tune, refine and get it perfect.  
4.  Create a consistent training program to foster understanding and growth within your process.  You may even consider a small bit of training during each sales meeting.  
5.  Look at each number based sales goal in detail and identify if the sales person has the skill to reach that goal.  If not, look at your process and see where the rep is off and create an action plan for success.  
6.  Use your CRM tool to track success and failure.  Using the CRM is not an option.  Not happy with your CRM?  Every CRM has issues.  So, switch or fall in love with the CRM you have.  What if your reps refuse to use the CRM?  Create an incentive for the rep with the best notes.  Or, if needed, dock their commission for lack of adherence to the process.  Not using the CRM is unacceptable.  Period.  If you can not track activity, you can not manage activity.     
7.  Set expectations for performance and base them on your sales process.  Revisit these expectations on a weekly basis with team huddles and individual coaching sessions.  Not sure how to coach a rep?  Read Coaching Salespeople To Be Sales Champions by Keith Rosen.
8.  Don’t lurk or stalk your sales team.  Instead, create a pattern of positive engagement.  Let them know you will be monitoring their success and failures.  Sales people always perform better when structure is present.  You must be consistent to make accountability work in your process.  
9.  Start right away.  If your team is struggling, get busy.  Preach adherence to the process from day one of a sales person being hired.  What about your other reps?  What if they are resistant?  Remember, making a sales number goal is just one factor of success.  Your team can make a financial goal and still be a miserable.  Or, those around the office, beyond the sales team can be miserable.  Do not allow someone to say, “I’m making goal, why do I need to participate in a new process?”.  The answer is simple, process drives success at all levels.  An improved process reduces stress and improves the work environment for all involved.  Also, one single sales person does not make a team.  
10.  Sales people will always be more passionate about this idea if they are involved in the project from day one.  In other words, don’t surprise them with this new system toward success.  
Wait.  Was this another blog about having a sales process?  Yes.  Accountability is key to process.  Without a process you have very little to hold someone accountable for.  Accountability is more than a single word.  It is a critical part of the total process.

About this blogger: Ryan Dohrn is an award winning ad sales training coach, a nationally recognized internet sales consultant, international business speaker, IT Sales Training expert and is the President and founder of 360 Ad Sales Training, a boutique internet revenue consulting firm with a detailed focus on ad sales training, internet consulting and media revenue generation. He is also the author of the ad sales book Selling Backwards. http://sellingbackwards.com    Sales consultant and business speaker Ryan Dohrn travels the globe teaching media sales training classes and offers detailed coaching help to business owners and media companies looking to make money online.

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Ryan R. Dohrn


360 Ad Sales Training and Strategy

Brain Swell Media LLC







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