MAKING THE GRADE — Four Simple Steps to Hold Your Sales Team Accountable

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MAKING THE GRADE Four Steps to Hold Your Sales Team Accountable

Last year was a rough academic year for our middle child. As a sophomore in high school, he was struggling in many of his core classes. Our son seemed to lack both the focus and the discipline that he needed to complete tasks in a timely manner and to get the job done. As parents, we needed to find a way to get through to our child and to help him turn his grades around. Here's what we did:

 
Set Clear (and Reasonable) Expectations.  Our son needed to know what was expected of him. Such expectations needed to be clear and concise but also easy to measure his performance and to provide him with appropriate feedback. We told him that, above all else, he needed to focus on getting A's and B's in all of his classes-C's and lower were not acceptable. We also told him that extracurricular activities, including sports and after-school events, came second to his academics. Having the right priorities is essential.
 
In business, it's much the same. We need to define clear expectations for our team and to lay out clear priorities. At The Walt Disney Company, for example, they define 4 Keys to Success: Safety, Guest Service, Quality of Show, and Efficiency. From these four principles, Disney Cast Members can do their job in a manner that is consistent with the organization's goals.
 
Provide Training & Support. Everyone needs to be set up for success. As a student, our son was to get the basics by attending classes, doing the required reading, and completing the homework. As teachers and parents, our responsibility should always be to oversee the work being done and to guide the outcome. For example, guiding the outcome might include taking the time to look a his math homework before he turns it in, to verify a problem or two, and to ask questions and guide him toward success.
 
Being set up for success is all out knowing what's expected and receiving the appropriate training necessary to complete the task at hand. Continuing with our example from above, Walt Disney World Cast Members are also trained on the general safety procedures for their area. Getting training and support you need should seem fairly apparent. However, we all learn differently. Some of us are visual learners while others learn better by actually doing. That's why Disney Cast Members attend formal training, participate in O-J-T training, and complete certification tests as part of a comprehensive training regimen.
 
Establish Meaningful Rewards. Our son needed motivation and we wanted him to have a goal to work toward. Last year, he was addicted to Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. Quite honestly, he attended way too often...and to the detriment of his grades. We needed to find a way to harness his enthusiasm for HHN and focus his efforts on getting good grades. So we set up a reward chart:

 

Our son's reward and recognition program included various ways in which he would be allowed to attend Halloween Horror Nights throughout the HHN run. The structure I've shared above allowed for several scenarios including some that were time-sensitive as well as others that were ongoing. We knew that a meaningful rewards structure would need to keep him interested over time.
 
Like it or not, we live in a what's in it for me world.  The better we are at acknowledging that and then responding with a competitive recognition and reward program, the stronger our team's commitment and results. While a competitive base wage can help in attracting new talent to the role, recognition and reward is the key to success. What's in it for me ties directly to productivity and performance.
 
Check Performance Regularly. We knew that with our son's college career at stake, simply waiting around for quarterly report cards wasn't good enough. We needed real-time data. Fortunately, his school district provides parents with an online portal in which we are able to monitor his grades in real time. This allows us to see not only his overall class grades but his grades on individual assignments. Because we are able to provide him with specific feedback in a timely manner, we are more effective at guiding his success and keeping him focused and productive.
 
The same principle applies in guiding sales performance. When I implement a sales program, I focus on performance behaviors in two specific ways-behavior and results.
 Behavior is the ability of the seller to demonstrate the sales behaviors that I've clearly set as the program standard. How well the seller demonstrates these behaviors is completely measureable. For example, did they smile and greet the guest? Did they ask for the guest's name and provide their own? Did they ask the required fact-finding questions and then make an appropriate recommendation?
 
Results are the specific metrics obtained from the ticketing system as they relate to the seller's ability to generate higher package sales as a result of consistently demonstrating the required sales behaviors. Without the sales behavior metrics, results are like his grades at the end of the quarter-a simple measure of performance. When they are coupled with behavior, results metrics will show a direct correlation between the effort that has been placed into a sales engagement and the outcome of that engagement (i.e. the guest said YES!)
 
Great sales performance is the sum total of each of these parts. By establishing a clear standard for performance, providing the right level of training, introducing a strategic recognition and reward program, and holding the team accountable, we reap the rewards. Just like our middle child who now enjoys both the satisfaction of a stronger GPA and the reward of his annual HHN fix, sales teams thrive in similar environments. With the right balance of direction, training, reward, and accountability, any sales program can be just as successful.
 
Have a great week!

"Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them."

Jack Canfield