Accountability: The Missing Element in American Business And How It’s Killing Sales

You can make excuses or you can make money, but you cannot do both.  Which do you want to do?  Lack of accountability is the enemy in your business today, and it’s killing your sales.  

Most successful CEOs will proclaim the importance of holding people accountable for their outcomes.  If accountability is so important, why don’t most managers do it?  Because they allow excuse making.  Excuse making is the symptom you’ve got the disease.

How many times have you heard?:

“Their budget is gone…

I couldn’t get to the president…

We don’t have enough good leads…

Our book isn’t good enough…

He didn’t like the promotion idea…

Our rates are too high…

Our rates are too low…

My commission program is unfair…

I’m not motivated…

My goals are too high”


Excuses are the poison that will kill your business.  Face it.  If you had the perfect company, reaching all sales goals, and unending stream on incoming calls for your product, perfect operations and billing, you wouldn’t need salespeople! The job of a sales person is to help the imperfect company stay in business.

So, how do you rid your company of excuses?

You must create a culture that does not allow excuses by holding everyone accountable. How?  We teach a six-step accountability process that starts with you, the executive.  You must start by holding everyone accountable to his or her commitments.  Starting today…ACCEPT NO EXCUSES!

Here’s my six-step accountability process your sales managers can use to hold their sales people accountable.

Step One:  Have your salespeople set individual goals which are important to them.  What are they willing to walk through walls for?  Ask them for goals that are personally compelling.

Step Two: Determine the actual amount of prospecting behavior required for the salesperson to achieve those goals.  Is it realistic?

Step Three:  How committed are they to performing the required behavior?  The definition of commitment is: “Willingness to do whatever it takes, even if they’re afraid, even if they’re uncomfortable, even if they don’t agree in principle with what must be done.”

Step Four:  Spell out your expectations for this person regarding those behaviors.

Step Five: Track and review the behavior weekly (at a minimum.)  If the sales person is off track, you’ll have to conduct a Reprimand Session (see Step Six.)

Step Six: The Reprimand Session:  Here’s the agenda:

Review the sales person’s personal goals.  Are they still important?

Review the required behavior.  Is it still necessary?

Review their commitment.  Are they still committed?

Review the expectations that were agreed upon.  Do they remember them?


Then get ready for the excuses…this is when you’ll hear them.  Recognize and call them.  “You can make excuses or you can make money, not both.  Which do you want to do?”  Or,  “If you couldn’t use that excuse, what else could you have done to be successful?”

When you hear your salesperson make a renewed commitment to perform their behavior, simply ask, “How do I know you are going to make it happen?”

Step Seven:  Practice “Or Else” Management. Here’s what to say:

“I practice Three Strikes and you are out.  If we have to have this conversation again, that will be strike one.”  Inform them of the consequences of failing to meet their behavior goals again.  Strike One should sting, but not be fatal.  For example, stop reimbursing their cell phone bill, or take away their gasoline credit card.

Strike Two consequences:  Up the ante.  It should be seriously devastating.  Take away their biggest account.  Then remind them, one more strike and it’s good-bye.  Document these conversations.  When Strike Three comes, it won’t be a surprise when you terminate their employment.

Weeding out the whiners and excuse-makers culls the weak performers and it sends the right message to your strong ones.  Plus, you’ll demonstrate leadership qualities of great executives…you will evangelize accountability.