How to drive accountability among your sales reps
True accountability happens when reps are empowered to effectively manage and measure their own performance.
Published March 7, 2017
Last updated September 18, 2020
Did you know that, according to CSO Insights, more than 45% of salespeople miss their quota? Of course, there could be a million reasons why this is happening, but the question we want to address here is, who should be held accountable for this deficiency?
While some fingers may immediately point to management and lack of coaching, others may find themselves blaming rep ineptitude or lack of productivity. The truth is that it’s actually a combination of shortcomings from both sales leaders and reps - but it’s up to managers to take the steps necessary to correct course.
Harassing and hovering over your team may drive reps to push toward their quota out of fear for a short period of time, but it will only create a culture of “Big Brother” and frustration in the long-term. Instead, managers must focus on creating a culture of rep accountability wherein reps effectively manage and measure their own performance, allowing management to make the transition from giving orders to providing strategic coaching.
Fortunately, sales teams today are lucky to have the technology and tools to make this easier than ever. Here’s how to get started.
Firm up your sales process
When you’re driving, you must know the right turns to take to arrive at your destination, otherwise you won’t get there. In sales, your destination is always a closed deal, but the problem is that, while many companies expect reps to arrive at this destination, they fail to provide them with the directions that they need to reach it. When this happens, reps either a) get lost, or b) find their own way.
While there are many routes that can lead to the same destination, some are more efficient than others; the same goes for sales. As a manager, it’s your job to provide your reps with the directions they need to get to their destination in the fastest and most effective way possible. These directions are your sales process, which provides reps with a clear series of steps they need to take to move a lead all the way through the sales pipeline to close.
For example, to move a deal from the Qualified stage to the Quote stage of the sales pipeline, an established sales process may require reps to complete the following:
- Conduct 360 analysis of company’s needs
- Visit prospect on-site
- Create proof of concept
- Receive a verbal yes
Rather than management having to constantly correct course or harass reps about their next steps during 1:1s, once reps have a defined “map,” it’s up to them to follow it.
Pro tip: This process should also indicate where hand-offs should take place between BDRs and AEs, so reps have a clear understanding of where their job ends and another’s begins.
Choose a set of metrics
Obviously, the #1 metric on every sales person’s mind is revenue. But as important as that data is, it isn't necessarily something you can manage. And if you can’t manage it at scale, your reps can’t manage it individually either.
Instead, managers should choose a standardized set of metrics that measure the sales activities that lead to revenue, as well as how leads are converting at each and every stage of the sales pipeline. These are metrics that reps can actively monitor and take action against on a regular basis.
For example, you should know the ideal number of calls a rep must make to reach a certain quota based on historical conversion data. Providing reps with their expected number of dials, emails, meetings, etc. establishes a set of activity metrics that they can independently monitor and use to benchmark performance.
Process measures, as shown in the chart below, comprise another key set of metrics that sales teams can use to better understand how leads and opportunities flow through their sales pipelines.
Breaking conversion rates down stage-by-stage allows you to pinpoint bottlenecks and pitfalls at various points within the sales process. For instance, if a rep notices that her deals are consistently getting stuck in the “Consultation” stage of her pipeline, she may need to revisit the materials she is sending prospects, the content of her discovery calls or her product knowledge.
Make reporting accessible
If you’re a seasoned sales vet, chances are you remember the days when sales reporting was quite the ordeal. Sales leaders would spend days slaving over Excel and guard the results with their lives. By the time the sales org as a whole got its hands on these reports, they were already outdated, and reps would have to wait until their next 1:1 to get any sort of performance feedback.
Fortunately, today’s sales platforms have the power to do the number crunching and provide up-to-the-minute reports. With robust permission controls to boot, there is no reason why modern sales managers shouldn’t be sharing these reports with their reps and encouraging them to check them out multiple times a day. Choosing a sales platform that makes these reports available across mobile devices takes this to a whole other level, giving your reps 24/7 access to real-time performance data.
Not only does this provide reps with the transparency they need to be held accountable for their numbers and activities, but giving them the ability to see where they stand compared to the other members of their team also creates a healthy layer of competition that fuels success.
Hold yourself accountable for rep accountability
Empowering your reps to hold themselves accountable is one of the most pivotal and impactful things you can do as a sales manager. Ensuring that BDRs and AEs alike know how to monitor and measure their own performance sets them up for a lifetime of sales success, as well as opens the door to more strategic coaching moments.