Hold Your Team Accountable to the Forest and the Trees | Sandler Training Skip to main content

Two of David Sandler’s rules are “never manage your numbers, manage your behavior,” and “the bottom line of professional selling is going to the bank.”

What may seem like a contradiction is actually the root of a successful accountability program, holding your team accountable to the forest (their sales target) and the trees (KPIs and proactive behaviors).

You may be wondering; how do we know the difference?

  • Target: A target is defined as both their individual targets and the overall team target for the year. Salespeople become lone wolves or “lost in the weeds” if you don’t pull their head up from time to time, like at your sales funnel review meetings, to help them understand that if the status quo continues, you and they won’t hit the targets.
  • KPIs: KPI’s or Key Performance Indicators are the leading indicators that get you to your sales target. The top best KPIs are “discovery meetings held” (hunter role) or “quarterly client review meetings held” (farmer role) and “unique conversations with decision makers.” You may call these something different (for example, “demos”) or have other KPIs that you’re tracking, but the goal is to see if you’re on pace to hit your target using KPIs. Think of KPIs like your gas gauge in the car—always on top of it—because if not… you aren’t going very far!
  • Behaviors: Behaviors are the proactive activities that get you to your KPIs. These could be asking for introductions, prospecting calls, networking events, trade shows, speaking engagements, social selling, etc. Both your behaviors and KPIs have monthly targets in your cookbook.

You may not have a data set of KPIs and proactive behaviors. That’s okay. Have your team track their KPIs and behaviors for 30 days, get a data set, and establish benchmarks that your team will be accountable to from that point forward.

Sales managers must show value to their people – this is the recipe for success. Holding your team accountable to KPIs and behaviors may seem like a lot of extra effort. However, instead of the anxiety that comes from only managing a lagging indicator like a sales target, you’ll have time to adjust if your leading indicators (KPIs and behaviors) show that your team won’t reach their target if they continue as they are.

Tracking your team’s KPIs and behaviors will eventually support your onboarding, reducing time to self-sufficiency for your new salespeople, because you can show your new hire what “average” and “excellence” looks like on your team.

Action breaks inertia. At your next sales meeting, ask your team to start tracking for the next 30 days to get momentum going and your accountability program will unfold like a flower opening to the sun.

Be the leader you want to be, and help your people be successful!

Learn more about our SalesAccountability tool for managers, here.

Great sales teams start with great sales managers

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