- December 10, 2006
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
One of my clients took a position as Worldwide VP of Sales at a very large, well known company. He quickly learned that there hadn’t been any accountability there for years. Taking a page out of my accountability book, he quickly set clear expectations and communicated them daily. He let everyone know what would be required in the way of performance, activity and reporting. Then he gave everyone a deadline to comply. The company’s top salesperson, the one who had the biggest year over year sales, did not comply. He was given several extensions and each time he failed to comply. He was given a final warning with termination as the consequence. Again he did not comply. He was promptly terminated.
News of the unexpected action made its way around the sales force in record time. The following weak, those who were already in compliance provided even more data in their reports. Those who were complying but only minimally, were early and detailed, and the data indicated that everyone had performed more effectively than ever before.
For those of you who are afraid to hold their salespeople accountable, let this lesson prove that the worst that can happen is already happening. In response to the likely, “What if it backfires?” question, how can it backfire any worse than most of your sales force making excuses and underperforming.
“What if those underachievers leave?” Lucky for you. You won’t have to terminate them. That’s the wrong question to ask, anyhow.
You should be asking, “What if it works? What if I can really do this? How much better will things get and how quickly will we get there?”
Sales Accountability. If you can do it in a huge company, think how much more effectively you can do it in a small or medium size company.