Leadership Perspectives | 12.06.18
Create a “No-Excuses” Sales Environment with Strong Tracking and Accountability Processes
Excerpt from “The Extraordinary Sales Manager”
In order to have success reaching goals, we must hold salespeople to the necessary activity through strong tracking and accountability processes. We often describe the term “accountability” as the 14-letter dirty word because in most organizations, the process of inputting, collecting and inspecting sales activity is not well-liked, by salespeople or management.
Most companies require strict accountability in their organizations, but they often fail to track activities that are the most predictive of sales results. Many times, “new business” or “increase in revenue” are the only identified and inspected metrics. Tracking only these end-result metrics is similar to looking in a rearview mirror because it does not give you necessary, early predictive information. In hindsight, nearly anything is clear.
So, in addition to tracking “new business” or “increase in revenue,” we need to track metrics like number of prospecting dials made, appointments made, appointments kept, second meetings, etc. Tracking this type of information will allow us to ascertain important ratios, like the ratio of prospecting dials to first appointments and the ratio of prospecting dials to closes. With this information, we can intelligently set and track activity goals. Thus, if we hold our advisors accountable to their activities, we should be able to intelligently predict future sales.
This detailed information will give you the raw data needed to see patterns. It will help you recognize the correlation between each step: prospecting to qualifying, qualifying to first meeting, first meeting to presentation, presentation to sale. Often, salespeople and managers do not know how many prospecting calls they need to make to exact a sale (call-to-sale ratio). Yet this detail is vital information to the success of each advisor and to the organization.
Effective Business Management
As an effective manager, you must track, inspect and coach each step in the selling process, including phone calls, contacts, opportunities, appointments, proposals and closed sales. This process of accountability is hard work, but if you have taken your people through the discussion of setting extraordinary goals and your FA has agreed to manage themselves to excellent or extraordinary levels, then you have done some of the heavy lifting by setting expectations.
Next, we need to address holding people accountable. Tracking activity is beneficial only if the data will be used to hold salespeople to their promised goals. You must help each person understand the ramifications of failure to achieve their set goals.
Unfortunately, I have found it common that companies allow people to make excuses for lack of success. If your company allows for excuses, it is likely that the other sales systems and processes are going to fail. You must be consistent in holding people accountable to the necessary behaviors, disallowing excuses.
To do this, you will hold the following conversation with each FA: “ What will happen if you don’t reach this goal — if you don’t achieve extraordinary?” Then, you will wait for their answer, allowing them to think through the consequences.
In this way, you are asking them to determine what they will adjust and what the consequences will be if they do not reach their goal. Leading each person through this discussion will help the individual to take responsibility for their success or failure. It will also allow you to utilize your accountability systems with more receptivity. After all, if you took your people through the setting standards exercise last month, they agreed to this process and each established their “stretch” goal.
If they shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh well, maybe next month/week/year,” you may have the wrong person in this role. If they are the right person for this role, they will be scrambling to figure out how they are going to meet their specified goal and they will verbalize their own personal pain with excuses.
Our company uses Objective Management Group’s tools, which evaluate selling strengths and weaknesses as well as other critical information in organizations. Approximately 66 percent of the salespeople assessed in OMG’s evaluation process make excuses for lack of performance. This means that they blame the company, the competition or the market — not themselves — for their lack of success. Clearly, this is a common issue and a negative one that impacts revenue growth.
There will always be things beyond our control. The object is to control those factors that we are able to control in order to affect success. Make this clear to your sales team. You cannot afford to allow excuses for lack of performance. If you allow one person to make excuses, you will be obligated to let the next do the same. If excuse-making becomes systemic, it will erode the standards you have painstakingly set.
Download Tony Cole’s eBook The Extraordinary Sales Manager