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Want More Sales Success? Get Accountable!

By Jerry Pujals

If you want to be a top producing salesperson, you must be accountable and have an accountability process in place. While many other factors, mindsets, and habits play into your success level, your level of accountability is the hinge-pin that makes everything else possible.

So, what exactly does accountability mean? The dictionary defines it as the quality or state of being accountable, liable, or responsible. In simpler terms, it means having a system that ensures you do what you said you would do, even when you don’t feel like doing it.

Ask yourself, “Who holds you responsible for completing daily tasks that will generate more sales? To whom are you liable if you don’t do what you need to do?” For most salespeople, the answer is “no one.”

The fact is that most salespeople are not accountable. Why? Because they’re typically compensated via straight commission, and this gives them an independent contractor mentality. They can earn as little or as much as they want based on their efforts. They create their own sales systems and have no obligation to use sales techniques that don’t work for their unique style.

This flexibility and earning potential attracts thousands of people to the sales profession every year. The irony is that this very flexibility and earning potential is what kills so many careers. Those in the top 3% know how to manage all the freedom; those in the 97% do not.

Think about it…as a salesperson, you’re not tied to a desk. You can take prospects out to lunch or on golf outings. You can have lots of “fun” in the pre-sales work. But when you let one thing slide for too long, such as not prospecting enough or not presenting enough proposals, a domino effect starts to occur. When one aspect of your career goes downhill, others quickly follow suit.

So the challenge is getting salespeople back on task to where they create a schedule, respect it, and work only 40 hours per week. If you ask most salespeople how much they work, they’ll tell you they put in 60 or more hours per week. But if you analyze their schedule and look at their income producing activities, you’ll quickly see that these same people actually work less then 20 hours per week. The rest of the time they’re engaging in non-income producing activities—the “busy-ness” of sales—rather than the real business of sales. And that’s a recipe for disaster.

So how do you gain accountability? Consider the following:

Have an Accountability Partner: The first step to accountability is to have an accountability partner. This person holds you to your word. If you say you’re going to prospect for four hours each day, your accountability partner ensures you do precisely that…no excuses. If you don’t do what you said you would do, or if you deviate from your plan in any way, this person “calls you on the carpet” and makes sure you get back on track. In general, having an accountability partner is the best way to take your well-laid plans and convert them into action.

We all instinctively know who can hold us accountable. Some people in our life agree with everything we say, pat us on the back, and act as our cheerleaders, while others aren’t afraid to confront us on important issues. When it comes to an accountability partner, you want someone who is more like the latter. Realize that your cheerleader and accountability partner likely love you the same amount, so this isn’t an issue of who loves you more. This is an issue of who will hold your feet to the fire. When it comes to an accountability partner, don’t choose the path of least resistance. Choose someone who will confront you when needed—someone who will push you to be your best.

Look at the people in your life. Who are the people who can get “tough” with you? It may be your spouse, your sibling, your sales manager, your co-worker, your brother-in-law, etc. It may even be someone you don’t know that well, such as the guy who works in the office down the hall, a personal trainer you just met, or even a business coach. The key question to ask is: “Will this person push me to be my best, even when it hurts?” If your answer is anything other than a resounding “yes,” then keep looking. The last thing you want is an accountability partner who will let you slide.

Form an Accountability Group: Some people prefer to start with an accountability group rather than an accountability partner. Most salespeople work in an office with several other salespeople. When you have an accountability group, you develop an alliance within your office, where all the salespeople help each other as a whole, rather than individually. Most companies are going to be excited about this group forming.

In this group, you get together to share ideas, discuss goals, exchange feedback, give each other motivation, and challenge each other to produce more. For example, as a group, you may decide that every day you are going to show up by 10:00 a.m. and prospect. If someone doesn’t show up, the group tries to find out why that person didn’t show up and what everyone can do to help him or her show up the next day. Obviously, this one person may simply not want to participate in the group. If so, that’s okay. You can’t force someone to be accountable. He or she must want to do it.

After being in the group for a while, certain people will naturally gravitate towards each other as accountability partners for more specific items. That’s completely normal and part of the process. This does not mean those individuals will leave the group; it simply means they are looking for some more specific accountability items. The purpose of the group is to get the entire office focused on goals and on helping each other, and to introduce the accountability process to people.

To introduce the idea of an accountability group to your office, get the salespeople together in a meeting. Start the conversation by telling the group some of your challenges—maybe you need help prospecting or role playing. And then find out what challenges other people have. You may find that most people struggle with the same two or three things.

For example, you may say, “You know, I think I could be a lot more efficient if I did more prospecting and role playing, but I sometimes have trouble doing these things. I’d like to find out what things other people here would like to do more often but for some reason don’t do them. (Let the group talk.) Great. Now that we each know what would help this office produce more as a group, as well as what would help us all individually, why don’t we help each other by creating an accountability group. We will each know what the group needs to do as a whole, and we will work together to make sure we do these things and hold each other accountable for our tasks.”

If you keep the meeting positive and focused on the benefit—the fact that the office and each individual will produce more—then most groups are easy to form. Getting your sales manager involved is a good idea too, as managers often love the idea of an accountability group. Most managers certainly want their salespeople to be more productive.

Get Accountable Today: The more accountable you are to your daily tasks and long-term goals, the higher your chances for accomplishing everything you desire. Remember, when it comes to accountability, the path of least resistance is not the ideal road to take. Get in a group setting where you have support from multiple people, or choose an accountability partner who will be tough on you. Yes, accountability hurts sometimes. But as the old saying goes, “No pain, no gain.”

What’s even better is that as your accountability grows and you do the things you must do on a regular basis, you form a good habit. Your day then doesn’t feel complete unless you do the things you want to be accountable for. When that happens, you’ve pushed through the pain and can enjoy the fruits of your labor without the negative feelings. You’ll no longer look at things like prospecting, role playing, or getting into the office on time as chores. They’ll be natural parts of your day that you enjoy. When those feelings surface, you can be sure you’re on your way to becoming a top producing salesperson.

Read other articles and learn more about Jerry Pujals.

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