Holding people accountable is tough.
You have to be tough and sometimes even be a jerk, right?
As much as I love a good Anakin & Padme meme, that is not true.
It's unclear where sales managers learned that accountability was an "either-or" situation. You're a big-time jerk to your salespeople or you're a push-over who lets them get away with anything. Being a manager is not a black-n-white world. It's often a world of gray tones, where judgment and people acumen comes into play.
One of the concepts that we teach in our management workshop, "Talent Focused Management", is that you should not treat every salesperson the same. You should treat them all differently, when we say differently; we do not mean that you treat some fairly and others unfairly. We mean that you should tailor your management activities to the individual talents, skills, and experience of each rep.
You still need to have a set of guidelines that will help keep your team accountable while being fair in the process.
3 Ways to Hold Salespeople Accountable (And Not be a Jerk)
1. Set Clear Expectations
The key to holding a salesperson accountable is setting clear expectations. It's hard to meet expectations when they are not communicated clearly and upfront to your team.
Every person on your team should not only know the standards and expectations but also why they are important to them and the organization. Tying expectations to results is a critical step in getting your salespeople to "buy in" to the process. Ultimately, we want your sales team to own their performance.
2. Be Consistent
Consistency will help you from being a jerk. If you consistently talk to your reps about the same goals, standards, and expectations every week, then they will know how your weekly 1-on-1 meetings will go.
You should be talking about the same, boring metrics every week. This consistency will demonstrate the importance of the KPIs and leading indicators to their success and overall team performance. It will also help you from going off on tangents where you might shift into "jerk mode."
3. Provide Help
Holding your salespeople accountable is easy when they are top performers who always hit their budgets and meet expectations.
It gets tough when you are working with a struggling rep.
One way to avoid the "jerk mode" is to offer help, resources, and solutions so that they can improve their performance and meet your expectations. Don't just sit on your ivory tower and yell down at them. Jump off your seat, get into the trenches, and brainstorm ways that they can improve their activity, appointments, and closes.
Using these three simple guidelines when you are holding your salespeople accountable will help you get better performance out of them, but also prevent you from shifting into "jerk mode."