HARDISON’S TIPS – AUGUST 18, 2021 – The Accountability Factor (PT.2)
Communicate and Enforce Consequences
What is at risk if goals are not met? Will commissions be lost? Will revenue-sharing be sacrificed? Will the company not be able to hire additional staff? Will the poorly performing salesperson’s job be in jeopardy? Does the very future of the company hang in the balance? While these might be mostly big-picture consequences, specific ramifications can – and should – be tied to non-attainment of clearly stated objectives. And with regular snapshots of performance made possible by the CRM, any setbacks in attaining sales goals can be addressed in the moment with adjustments made so the salesperson can get back on track for success.
Keep in mind, however, that consequences should never be a surprise. Just as the goals must always be clearly understood, with progress toward these goals being communicated often, so must the consequences of poor performance be recognized by all. These consequences – which might include a performance improvement plan, reallocation of responsibilities, or even termination – should be seen as the natural result of poor performance that was identified and communicated throughout the sales or performance cycle.
Communicate and Reinforce Achievement
It is unfortunate that most sales leaders too often focus on what is not going well and neglect to celebrate successes. Sadly, these sales leaders spend too much time on poor performers while ignoring top performers who are “part of the solution.” The better method, of course, is for managers to publicly communicate when quotas are met or exceeded. This kind of public praise (within the sales organization, that is), when shared “in the moment” can become a motivating kind of peer pressure. That immediacy reinforces accountability so that it becomes more organic and innate to the salesperson, rather than being an external force applied by the Sales Manager.
Adjust as Needed
Conditions change, industries evolve, and the sales organization is a dynamic culture within the company. Therefore, it is important to be aware of factors, both internal and external, that impact goals and their attainment. Holding salespeople accountable for goals that become unrealistic due to changing conditions beyond their control can devastate morale and send productivity plunging. But making and communicating adjustments – up or down – to sales goals and holding salespeople accountable to the new set of objectives sends the message that management is in tune with the salesperson’s challenges.
Small to medium-sized companies often don’t set goals, and even when they do, they don’t hold their salespeople accountable for achieving them. Communication is key. In many organizations, salespeople think they are doing a good job without truly understanding that management is unhappy with them. How can that be? Goals are unclear, communication is poor, and accountability becomes impossible.