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Holding Yourself Accountable

This is part eight of The No Excuses Guide to Selling Without a Sales Manager (this link is part one). Read part two: Choosing Your Sales Goals and Accountabilities. Then, read part three: Building Your Sales Activity Plan. Then read the two companion pieces, part four: Reviewing Your Own Sales Pipeline, and part five:Reviewing Your Own Sales Opportunities. Part six is Building Support by Selling Inside. And part seven isFinding Your Answers Without a Sales Manager.

When we started down this path a week ago with the first post in The No Excuses Guide to Selling Without a Sales Manager, I promised that at the end we would talk about how you hold yourself accountable for your results. If you had a sales manager, they would regularly check on in you to make certain that you are keeping your commitments to yourself, to the organization, and to your clients.

The truth of the matter is that the only people who do well when they sit down with their sales manager to discuss their results and their commitments are the salespeople that already hold themselves accountable. This is why my list of essential attributes for a successful salesperson starts with self-discipline, the ability to keep the commitments one makes to oneself.

You have to hold yourself accountable. You have to hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else will.

At Regular Intervals, Take Stock

Holding yourself accountable for the results you need to produce requires that you from time to time stop and take account of where you are. At the beginning of this project, you worked out your annual goals. You worked backwards from there and created quarterly goals. It doesn’t make sense to measure yourself against your long-term goals too often, but it makes perfect sense to look at how you are doing against the milestones that add up to that goal.

Monthly Review: Take an hour every month and review your progress against your quarterly goals.

Did you generate enough business in the month to account for one-third of your quarterly goal?

Did you generate enough opportunities to make certain that you will reach your goal the following month?

What does your pipeline look like? (A monthly pipeline review might be often enough, unless you have a short sales cycle).

If you are tracking well, your plan is working. If you are not tracking well, now is the time to sit down, study the results, ask yourself the hard questions, and make adjustments to your plan.

Quarterly Review: Every third month, take an hour and review the last month, as well as the two prior months.

Did working your plan help you to meet your goals?

Did you generate enough opportunities to meet your quarterly opportunity goal?

Did the modifications you made to your plan improve your results?

What are the differences between the results from month to month? What accounts for the differences?

How does the information you are looking at inform your future plans? What needs to change? What is working? What do you need to do more of in the future?

If you are going to hold yourself accountable, you cannot rationalize when answering these questions. You have to accept that you are wholly responsible for the results, for good or for ill. The fact that you had a deal fall through that you were counting on isn’t enough to sweep away the missed number; you needed another deal. The fact that you lost a deal you deserved on price? You own it.

Taking responsibility and owning the result, regardless of the circumstances, is what will allow you to make adjustments and improve in the future. There are lessons to learn, if you are open to learning them.

Activity That Produces Outcomes, Not Just Activity

Holding yourself accountable also requires that you to take a measure of you activity plan. You created a model sales week, and you defined the activities that, if taken, would result in you reaching your goals.

Your activity plan may need to be revised, too. There more questions you need to ask yourself as you hold yourself accountable.

Effective ActivityActivity for activity’s sake isn’t a good plan. Instead, you need the most effective activities that result in you opening and winning your dream client opportunities.

Is the prospecting activity you committed to take creating the opportunities that you need? Are you doing the prospecting work you promised yourself you’d do?

Are you obtaining the face-to-face sales calls that you need to advance your opportunities? Are the actions you are taking on sales calls the actions that your sales process requires for you to stack the deck in your favor?

Has the time you have spent nurturing your dream clients resulted in the opening of new relationships?

Has your sales call preparation resulted in your being able to create value on every call?

Are you religiously following up on what you owe your clients?

Is your model week working? If it isn’t, stopping to think through what’s working and what isn’t will give you the chance to make adjustments. Your model week will need to be changed from time to time, as circumstances and results warrant. Be honest about what activity needs to be taken, even if it means you have to do more of the heavy lifting, like prospecting.

Keep Your Promises to You

You’ve heard it said that successful people do the things that the unsuccessful aren’t willing to do, and that is true.

Whether you have a sales manager or not, your success will depend heavily on your ability to depend on yourself. You have to keep the commitments that you make to yourself, and this requires that you do what most needs to be done, even when it is uncomfortable, and even when there are attractive distractions available (and there always will be attractive distractions).

There isn’t a sales manager anywhere whose job it is to inspire you to keep your commitments to yourself; they shouldn’t have to. There isn’t a sales manager anywhere whose job it is to motivate you to do what you need to do.

It’s your job to inspire and motivate yourself.

The very best sales manager, the one that has complete control over what you do and what you don’t do, is the sales manager that you see in your mirror each morning. There isn’t anyone with a greater ability to ensure your success.

You hold you accountable. No excuses!

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  1. […] were lessons to be learned in my inability to keep this commitment to myself (I love Anthony Iannarino’s treatment of keeping commitments throughout The Sales Blog–if you stumble here, go there as soon as you […]