dog-sittingI talk a lot about coaching, motivating and holding salespeople accountable as the primary functions of an effective sales manager.  I took an in depth look at coaching ineffectiveness a couple of articles ago.  I’d like to look at holding salespeople accountable today.   The primary characteristics that we evaluate when determining whether or not a sales manager is competent in this area are:

  • Doesn’t accept mediocrity
  • No need for approval from salespeople
  • Takes responsibility
  • Manages behavior
  • Asks questions
  • Manages the pipeline
  • Personal beliefs support accountability

This isn’t a very exhaustive list frankly, but surprisingly very few sales managers possess a competency in the area of holding their salespeople accountable.  With my client companies the most frequent reason for ineffectiveness in this area is because they have a need for approval from their salespeople.  Let’s examine the need for approval further.

Sales managers who have a need for approval from salespeople typically suffer greatly in terms of leadership effectiveness.  The manager might need to be liked too much to be able to deliver the tough love associated with holding salespeoples’ feet to the fire.  When a sales manager cares too much about what the team members think about him, it is hard to command respect and it is harder to be demanding of the appropriate behaviors from the team that will propel them to excellence.  Sometimes tough love is necessary to get salespeople to perform to their highest.

If the manager is concerned about being liked, it is hard for him to be steadfast with his expectations.  Instead of commanding respect and execution they begin to operate like babysitters, pleading and begging the salespeople to do what is necessary.  I visualize dog owners who are not consistent in their training of their dogs.  You know these people.  They are the ones that say “sit….sit…sit.  C’mon Spot sit.  That’s it.  Ah,ah, ah, now sit.”  Coaxing and pleading.  That’s what our sales managers turn into when they care too much how the salespeople will take their request for certain behaviors.   This particular issue, of needing approval from their salespeople, can be debilitating.  It takes consistent practice over a period of time to be able to improve in this area.  But, left unattended, the sales manager will not get better on his own and the whole team will suffer.