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There is no room for excuses when it comes to sales performance
There is no room for excuses when it comes to sales performance

The key behaviours salespeople and sales leaders need to prioritise

To achieve the best results, all sales staff need to reinforce the behaviours we learn in childhood – responsibility and accountability, writes BERNADETTE MCCLELLAND.

There’s one behaviour salespeople and sales leaders need to stop hiding from. For salespeople, that behaviour is responsibility, and to complete the equation, for the sales leader or manager, it is accountability. Both are required, in equal doses.

Taking responsibility is the greatest difference between the top 1 per cent of salespeople and the bottom 1 per cent. An evaluation of more than a million salespeople found that 94 per cent of the top performers chose to take responsibility for their results; only 20 per cent of the bottom performers took responsibility for their results.

In other words, elite salespeople don’t make any excuses or play the blame game. Now, looking at accountability: from the sales leadership evaluations I work with, comprising more than 16,000 people, the average result for demonstrating best practice accountability was only 59 per cent. The figure dropped to 42 per cent for family-run businesses.

Before you roll your eyes, hang in here for a bit.

"Taking responsibility is the greatest difference between the top 1 per cent of salespeople and the bottom 1 per cent"

Sales leaders know they are supposed to hold their people accountable, but the truth is that many really don’t know how.They are in leadership roles, yet they don’t know how to perform one of the most critical elements of their role. And some of those that do know, won’t!

Some think that ‘micro-managing’ is what they should do and others believe that ‘focusing on the numbers’ is all that’s required, while others assume giving ‘free rein’ is acceptable.

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 that challenge becomes: how do we make sure our salespeople are 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
  • 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 things run smoothly
  • There is always a safe space for mistakes to be made
  • We respect each other, no matter what
The accountability stage

At around seven years of age, the human brain shifts focus and decides it’s time to ‘step up’ and become independent. After being joined at the hip, sharing their parents’ thinking and living in a fairy-tale world of princesses and astronauts, kids grow into a new phase of thinking.

Their levels of consciousness, their sense of logic, as well as their emotional stability takes on a new form and their brain reaches a new level of internal and external awareness. Some parents sense the shift and will educate their kids to embrace a more adult way of viewing the world to prepare them for the future. Meanwhile, others continue to treat them as the children they still are, and once were.

This phase is often referred to as the ‘accountability stage’. It’s the point at which children 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 without being asked, and when they realise the rewards they receive by taking on more responsibility causes them to want to do more to help.

So where do sales staff sit when it comes to responsibility and accountability?

A percentage of salespeople and sales leaders operate in one of three categories:

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 – a person who displays a ‘my way or the highway’ mentality, operates from an ‘I’m telling you what to do’ angle, and uses language such as ‘because I said so’. Frequently, they are considered to be a bully.

The Adult – someone who asks rational questions, who listens and gives the benefit of the doubt, and demonstrates patience and respect, yet still holds people accountable.

When we had to wash the dishes, mow the lawn, and babysit as youngsters, we were preparing for our future and ensuring we can be independent and make choices that set us up for success. The same principles of responsibility and accountability apply today in business – for both the leader and the salesperson.

The future depends on you being more responsible and holding yourself, and those around you, accountable.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bernadette McClelland

Bernadette McClelland is a keynote speaker, executive sales coach, and published author. Learn More: 3redfolders.com

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Tuesday, 14 July, 2020 10:52pm
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