This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).


Creating a sales organization culture of accountability is the pathway to success. We will close the loop on this concept in the next (final) chapter, but for now, let’s be clear ─ it is not as complicated as it may have seemed before reading this book.

When you have good people executing the right, metric-based process and you hold them accountable to the results, basic sales management decisions fit very nicely into a simple four-box matrix:

Decision Quad(Click image to enlarge)

Let’s examine this matrix, but first some definitions:

“Making efforts” means that the salesperson is doing the steps in the sales process as agreed upon with the sales manager and in a way that can be tracked in whatever sales process tracking system is used by the company.

“Achieving results” means that the salesperson is meeting the quota or revenue target for whatever time period is in question.

Quadrant 1: Making efforts and achieving results
When people are doing the things they are supposed to be doing and getting the results they are supposed to be getting, the sales manager’s job is to support them by providing appropriate coaching, training, and support to help remove obstacles. Things are working; the operative question is “what can sales management do to help them work better?”

Quadrant 2: Making efforts and not achieving results
Someone who is making efforts is worth keeping around for as long as possible, even if short-run results are falling short. If despite these efforts the salesperson just can’t get the required results, sales management should help channel this energy toward successful results. The sales manager also needs to ensure that the salesperson is getting the necessary support to excel. There may indeed come a point of diminishing returns, and this needs to be watched for. Sometime between a few months and a bit longer depending on the organization, management will have to decide that this person has made all of the efforts that can be made. And maybe this sales job isn’t a good fit. Don’t prolong the obvious. Be consistent across the sales organization about how much time is given to a salesperson like this and what level or rate of improvement is required over what period of time for him or her stay in the job.

Note: If it’s not just one salesperson in Quadrant 2, this may be the moment for the sales manager’s boss to have a look around and ask a few pointed questions to make sure the manager is doing the job.

Quadrant 3: Not making efforts and achieving results
This quadrant is for guys like Sam. They don’t like to follow the rules, but they get results anyway. They don’t come to sales meetings, fill out reports as required, or use the CRM. They come and go as they please, but they make their numbers.

You need to decide if this is OK. Some organizations are so starved for revenue-producing salespeople that they will give up anything to keep one, no matter how they behave. In my opinion, this is probably acceptable in a typical sales organization that is poorly managed without accountability and proper systems. However, if you make the effort to systematize the sales organization, this kind of behavior can be very demotivating to those salespeople who are following the rules.

At The Widget Company, Sam ultimately lost out because he missed his numbers, but even before then he was rude, uncooperative, negative, and generally not very pleasant. He got away with it because he exceeded his numbers every time, but his presence was a drain on those around him. This is one reason that a revenue-target-only approach to sales management falls short of optimal.

Sales culture is important, just like the culture of a sports team. When you build a sales growth machine, you become less dependent on the prima donna and more able to take charge of crafting the kind of culture where people can thrive ─ for their own benefit and the benefit of the company.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

Quadrant 4: Not making efforts and not achieving results
If someone is not trying and not getting results, an immediate change needs to happen. They need to get into one of the other three quadrants right away or be terminated. Be sure that these expectations are clear and within the employment contract and you will not have to suffer with this kind of fool any longer than you should.



Hi, I’m David Masover. With nearly three decades of B2B sales experience, I work as a private practice Sales Force Development Consultant. I help company leaders understand the root causes of sales issues that keep revenue from growing as fast as it could, and to fix those problems through work with reps, managers, systems, processes, strategies, and tools. You can learn more about me and my work and/or get in touch with me here at my web site or on LinkedIn at