Your Reports Create Awareness Not Accountability

The reason so many salespeople dislike their CRM and the necessary upkeep is that they believe that it is Big Brother. There is some truth in this complaint, and for some sales leaders and managers, sales can boiled down to activity alone—effectiveness and effective leadership be damned. Other “desk jockey” types sit behind the sophisticated dashboard, clicking through to reports and immersing themselves in the details like a military commander in the Rear Echelon, so far from the action that they are unaware of the reality, the ground truth.

For all the reports and reporting, none of them by themselves or combined, generate the real outcome all sales organizations are seeking: accountability. Information generates only an awareness, and is insufficient to the task of creating greater accountability and the reaching of goals (and I say this after spending an entire day generating reports).


Accountability, for many reasons, is a problem for most sales organizations. Some of the lack of accountability is due to legal constraints making it more difficult to impose consequences—even for bad or detrimental behavior. Another reason is that the accountability doesn’t cascade down from senior leadership to the level beneath them, often the result of modeling their prior leaders, and occasionally the result of coming from a culture that was high accountability and assuming everyone has the same culture (something rarer than an honest politician).

But there is a more difficult and more prevalent reason for the lack of accountability: the inability or unwillingness to create change.

No Fear of Reports

Salespeople aren’t afraid of reports. They also aren’t afraid of dashboards. As Steven Pressfield wrote in The Warrior Ethos: “Sociologist tell us that there are two types of cultures: guilt-based and shame-based. Individuals in a guilt-based culture internalize their society’s conception of right and wrong. The sinner feels his crimes in his guts. He doesn’t need anyone to convict and sentenced him; he convicts and sentences himself.”

In a shame-based culture, “face” is everything. Pressfield continues: “A shame based culture imposes its values from outside the individual, by the good or bad opinion of the group. The community imposes its code on its members by shunning and public shaming.” Shame works in military groups where it is critical to success, but Pressfield will tell you that here in the West, we are guilt-based, making your shared dashboard impotent in creating change.

A culture that lacks accountability does not create an internal sense of obligation and purpose and meaning. I would argue that there is no real feeling of “belonging” and “duty” and “obligation.” Nor is leadership the exemplar.

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