Building and Sustaining a Sales Accountability Culture
On this episode of the Sales Gravy Podcast Jeb Blount (People Follow You) and Kristie Jones discuss the trials and tribulations of building and sustaining a sales accountability culture. You’ll learn that without accountability your sales team will generate inconsistent results and devolve into the wild, wild west.
Kristie: How I Developed My Passion for Creating a Sales Accountability Culture
I actually started in SaaS sales leadership back in 2000. As I progressed through my career, I started to work for some VC-backed companies, and I got that VC-backed startup bug. Accountability is so critical when you’re dealing with people who have given you money and expect a return on the investment.
Early-stage startups and fast-growing startups are all about urgency and results. I was working as a VP of Sales and it was clear that those environments needed to have a sales accountability culture. We needed to create and maintain one.
In about 2016, I left the W2 world and started my own sales consultancy. I’m passionate about helping early-stage tech startups build their sales teams and formalize their process. I spend a ton of time doing executive coaching on accountability culture.
I’m still walking into companies and talking to them about accountability culture after really not seeing it. That includes everything from not having firm quotas, to not dealing with “accountability dodgers”.
Jeb: Too Much Money, Not Enough Leadership
In some cases, there’s zero leadership, too much money, and people run wild. In other cases, you’ve just got a founder who is trying to put everything together. There’s an inflection point where if you don’t create some accountability, it’s a disaster. What advice do you have for a business, no matter where they fit on that spectrum, for sales leaders or executives, to shift into an accountability culture?
Kristie: Expectations Are The Foundation Of A Sales Accountability Culture
It starts with setting expectations and putting those in writing. In the middle of this pandemic, it’s more important than ever. There’s more uncertainty than ever before, which also means that sales reps need accountability more than ever before. They need to understand: “What will cause me to lose my job?” Everybody’s worried about that.
They need to understand the circumstances around that. A sales accountability culture starts during the interview process. During the interview process, I’m already starting to set expectations just by the behavioral-based interview questions that I’m asking to ensure that people will walk their talk and that people will fall on the sword when they need to.
During the start of COVID-19, I went back to all of my clients and former clients and wrote a little how-to menu and said, “You have to create accountability around the work schedule because the work schedule is not eight-to-five anymore. You have to understand what you can expect from them, even from a work schedule standpoint.” Also, expectations are a two-way street.
Expectations Are a Two Way Street
As a leader, I can’t just sit down with you and say, “Here are my expectations, let’s negotiate them and put them in writing.” I also need to say, “Here’s what you can expect from me.” And then, at the end of our expectations meeting, I ask, “What do you want me to do if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain?” I let them set their own consequences.
Why would I wait until it’s gone south on me, just to go back to fix it in a way that may not work for the rep? I hear everything from, “I need a gentle reminder,” to, “I need you to take me out to lunch, clearly something’s going on and I need some one-on-one attention.”
I hear a lot of different answers to that question, but I write those down on the document, too. And so it’s so much easier for me to go to a rep who’s not walking their talk and say, “We had this conversation and this is what we discussed. This is what you told me to do if you weren’t holding yourself accountable.