It occurred to me recently that one of the core issues at the heart of the current Euro crisis is similar in structure to a problem that I see in a lot of sales organizations – that there is no authority with which accountability is enforced.  In other words, there are no real consequences for not following the rules.

[A word of warning to my readers – I tend to read a lot about global politics and economics, but I am a casual observer at best.  That said….]

While the problems around the Euro crisis are complex, there is one element that is actually rather straight forward.  No authority = no real accountability.  That solving that issue is core to righting the currency system has been discussed for quite some time now.  Governments in the Euro zone will need to give up some control over their economies (enforcement of accountability) in order to make the system work.  Without it, it just doesn’t.  Just like your sales organization.

Let’s use Greece as an example – Greece was in the news enough these last few months, so it makes a good example.

When a country like Greece gets too heavily into debt, one thing that can be done is to create more money to pay off those debts.  The economics are not simple, but a simplified version is that money can be created to pay off debts, but if too much money is created, then there is the risk of inflation.  Many countries have flirted with this game, including the US in this very crisis.  The problem is that Greece can’t.  Greece is part of the Euro community, and as such, it does not control it’s own currency.  Creating more money is not an option.

When the Euro zone was created, this potential problem was to be avoided by requiring strict deficit-to-GDP and debt ratios for all Euro member countries.  This works great in theory (and when everyone is growing).  If the rules are followed, then no-one goes into debt.  If no-one goes into debt, then there is no need for any individual country to feel like they would like to create more money.  No problem – right?

Unfortunately, there was no mechanism to enforce these rules, and they got broken.  Within the rules of the Euro zone system, there was something to be held accountable to – the deficit and debt ratios – but no-one to enforce them.  The “deal” put forth at the end of last week had many elements to it, but some of the most important were about adding enforcement measures and consequences around the same requirements that were in the original rules of the Euro zone.  Consequences were always needed for when times get rough, in this case, they came much later than they should, and provided quite a scare before they were finally agreed to.  Serious speculation ensued that implied that even the Euro itself as a currency might collapse because of the results of the omission of consequences in the original treaties.

So with apologies to all of you politics and economics junkies, this blog post will now revert to its normal topic of selling – because this is where we get to the part about your sales team.  As in the Euro crisis, accountability is critical, but is only effective if it has teeth.  There must be consequences associated with failure to do what a salesperson is being held accountable for, or the things they are being held accountable for have no real meaning or impact.

In other words, if you have a quota, and salespeople don’t meet it, what happens?  You don’t need to fire them, but you shouldn’t do nothing.  If you do nothing, then why bother having the quota in the first place?

Better than a quota is the concept of activity goals.  Map out your sales process and create some metrics around the activities that lead to sales (see my book Mastering Your Sales Process if you would like some guidance here).  Come to an agreement with your salespeople about what activities they will be doing, by what time, and then hold them accountable.  If they need help, then by all means do help them, but if every month brings new sad stories about not being able to find time to make calls, or whatever other activity goals have been agreed to, then over time, you will need to do something about it.

If you do, then you will have a sales culture of accountability which will lead towards growth.

If you don’t, well, you really don’t want your sales organization to resemble Greece right now – do you?

Think about it – meanwhile, I’m going to go satisfy my sudden craving for Moussaka.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David