Everybody loves to hold others accountable, but very few of us enjoy being held accountable ourselves. It’s natural. We’re human, and very often “accountability” is a code word for “perform or else” where “or else” is a threat.
But what if fear of accountability were destroying your effectiveness as an individual and as a sales team? Would that change your mind?
I have come to believe that fear of accountability is a rampant problem in the sales world, and that it’s one of the roots of poor sales effectiveness.
It’s true that salespeople are generally responsible for meeting quotas, but in many cases, the “how” of getting there is left up to them, with very little accountability.
As for managers and directors, accountability is often a fluid thing left highly up to interpretation.
A while back, I spoke with the owners of a company that was making an amazing software product that made a great deal of the inner workings of the sales department visible and trackable. The company failed. The owners claimed the problem was that the sales directors didn’t want that level of transparency. If they had that much transparency, they would have to be accountable, and not enough of them wanted that, even though it would have benefited their departments.
Individuals who learn to love feedback and accountability often become high performers at whatever they choose to do.
But there’s yet another layer of accountability on which most sales organizations are failing badly.
We are very, very rarely held accountable to what happens after the sale.
And that’s a problem. Lack of accountability for what happens after the sale leads to many problems, including
It’s easy to see why accountability to customer success might make the sales department more effective. It’s harder to see how we build that accountability–especially when most of us are afraid of it.
Some fear of accountability for customer success is justified. After all, what happens after a sale can be dependent on a large number of factors, most of them out of the control of the sales team. It seems unfair to be held accountable under those circumstances.
But most of the fear of accountability is rooted in an unsupportive mindset.
We associate “accountability” with negative feedback and being disciplined (whether via performance reviews or lost revenue) for negative outcomes.
In many cases, accountability, and the feedback associated with it, becomes an existential threat. If we don’t meet our quota, we lose our jobs. If the initiative we championed fails, we get demoted. If the customer is lost, our commission takes a hit.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
We all love accountability for other people because, at some level, we know it leads to better outcomes. We hate it for ourselves, because we fear it will lead to our failure.
The way through this conundrum is to learn to love accountability for ourselves by changing our mindset about feedback. Instead of thinking of feedback as a pass/fail threat, we must begin to think of it as an opportunity to grow.
Feedback = failure
We change to:
Feedback = opportunity
On the face of it, this is a simple shift, but it will take more than simple intention to make it happen throughout your sales team. You’ll need to cultivate a feedback-positive mindset on your team.
Individuals who learn to love feedback and accountability often become high performers at whatever they choose to do. In fact, accepting feedback and being accountable to it are key characteristics of high-growth individuals.
Furthermore, salespeople and sales teams who are willing to be held accountable to customer success are more likely to earn trust and build stronger, more profitable relationships.
I’d love to show you how Membrain can help you build a feedback-positive culture and prove your accountability to customers. Schedule a demo today.
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills and processes.