Newsletter January 2024
It feels great to be starting the year off talking about the importance of accountability. Why have we chosen it? Well, that’s a no brainer! Accountability is the number one reason we are asked to work with new clients.
Why focus on accountability?
Addressing accountability at this time of year is particularly pertinent.
Accountability is usually at the forefront of our minds as we close the quarter.
Those companies that are just coming up to their end of financial year will no doubt be holding their sales teams to account to hit their forecasted numbers.
It may even rear its head midway through the quarter as we scrutinise (and dare we say it, inspect) the forecast.
Start at the planning stage
Addressing accountability needs to start at the planning stage. We cannot stress enough the importance of getting the planning bit right.
If sales leaders skip this, they will be on the highway to stress, pressure, lack of fun . . . ok you get the point!
Address two key questions to put the process for accountability into practice:
- Who are we holding accountable?
- What are we holding them accountable for?
Who are we holding accountable?
It is vital to make sure you know who is on your team (virtual and direct).
As we move into the consumption world, sales has become a team sport.
- SE’s have always played a significant role, but there are other roles that have become more pivotal.
- Customer Success is a relatively new role, born out of the consumption world. This team has a ‘trusted advisor’ status within key customers and often see new opportunities.
- What used to work in marketing isn’t necessarily working today. We must think of new innovative ways to reach our customers. To make that happen, teams must work more closely together and be truly customer centric.
- It would also be amiss not to mention the partners’ role as this has become much clearer relating to how they play in this new cloud world. In fact, it is hard to find a company that is not rethinking its partner strategy, focusing on the Hyperscalers and/or GSIs.
- This doesn’t even touch on the internal supporting roles such as legal and operations.
All these customer touch points in the sales cycle, especially as we continue to work remotely, are more disjointed than ever. Sales leaders tell us they need all these roles to be accountable, but when they don’t ‘carry the number’ or even worse have misaligned goals which leads to competing priorities, then how can a sales leader or an AE hold them accountable?
Before you read any further, stand on one leg and fold your arms behind your back.
Did you do it?
No of course you didn’t. Who likes being told what to do? But that is what these enabling functions often feel like when AEs ask/tell them to do something and then attempt to hold them accountable to it.
Telling someone what to do, often feels like the quickest way to get something done. Whether your sales team reports directly into you or are part of your virtual team.
Building the plan together is key – not only will it be better but if everyone has contributed to the plan they will be more likely to commit. This means ensuring that everyone, even the quietest people on the team, have had a chance to shape the plan.
We all should feel accountable to each other, so much so that we will all go the extra mile. If you can make this happen (and we see this with the great teams that we work with) then you know you are ‘cooking on gas’!
The goal is for everyone to commit to the plan with clarity. Then you can hold them accountable.
So how do you make this happen?
Who’s on your team?
We recently coached a sales leadership team who were complaining that the enabling functions weren’t supporting them. As a follow-up to one of our sessions we asked them to do an exercise with their team and then report back on it.
Each one of the sales leaders had completed the follow-up work with their direct report to help build trust. What transpired however, is that none of them had included their enabling functions. When challenged on why they hadn’t, they all had the same response – they just hadn’t thought of including them.
So our question to you,
If you truly believe that selling in the cloud and the consumption model is a team sport, who do you consider to be on your team? And which cross functional leaders do you need to include from the start?”
Take time for human connections
You can’t underestimate the importance of building trust – it is the first building block to accountability.
For more information and tools on building trust, take a look at our newsletter ‘Why is trust needed in a team’
The key to building trust
The leader must set the tone by showing vulnerability and allowing people to voice their opinions, for everyone to be heard, to be able to ask for help, and to admit to mistakes. This is the baseline for accountability.
If you have established trust, everybody’s feeling heard, and they’ve all contributed to the plan – even if they don’t completely agree with the final decision – they are much more likely to commit. You are now on your way to accountability.
What are we holding them accountable for?
At the Amplified Group, we often say you need to go slow to go fast. Think of it as how you accelerate around a bend. You need to slow down before you put your foot on the gas. Likewise, harvesting everybody’s ideas might seem like it takes too long but it will pay off in the long run.
Be clear who is doing what. Make sure you have bite size pieces with absolute clarity of roles and responsibilities and any possible barriers, agree time frame and expected outcomes, then you can move forward.
By the way, this doesn’t mean that we just dictate orders, although that might feel the quickest way to achieve a goal, it’s a shortcut that often misfires.
Take a look at our Newsletter on Clarity for more tips around this topic ‘Lack of clarity slows you down’
Promoting healthy peer pressure
Now that everyone is committed to a plan, with absolute clarity of what’s expected of them, and everybody knows what everybody else is doing, then you can start to get the peer pressure to work.
We often witness leadership meetings where the leader has a one-on-one with each team member in front of the rest of the team. A healthy team, where accountability is really working, is where team members discuss and see what each other is doing and feel the peer pressure to want to be able to contribute to that. This is when the magic happens.
But let’s say the magic hasn’t happened. Maybe you have a team member that hasn’t done what they committed to. The next piece of this puzzle is to understand how to hold these people accountable.
Use a coaching style to have important conversations.
Listen to our Get Amplified episode with Organisational Psychologist Dr Hayley Lewis on ‘How to have important (not difficult) conversations.’
If you still need to have an important conversation, adapt your approach based on the workstyle of who you are holding accountable.
We find using a fun speed dating exercise helps with this.
Give feedback by workstyle
There are different ways to approach this.
- Ask the person how they would like to receive feedback. Sounds simple, but it’s surprising how many people do not think to do this.
- Understand different workstyles. This short video introduces team dynamics: https://youtu.be/rB7nuXkoR8I?si=Fp0x63V4O2bcThAJ
You can’t fast track to accountability, you must bring those you want to be accountable with you. We hope you’ve found this newsletter helpful and thought provoking. We have lots of resources to support you.
1. Make sure you know who is on your team (virtual and direct).
2. Build the plan together.
4. Be clear who is doing what with absolute clarity.
5. Don’t shy away from important conversations. Use a coaching style.
6. If you need to be more direct, adapt your language based on who you are holding accountable. (This is the hardest bit to do!)
- For a quick overview, watch this video introducing the topic of accountability.
- Hear how to scale accountability across sales teams with Andy Wills, EMEA Director Sales Enablement at Dynatrace on the Get Amplified podcast: ‘Building a Powerhouse Sales Team’.