ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Raising the Bar - The Leader’s Responsibility

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, May 31, 2024

“Did I hire my salespeople this way or did I make them this way?” This is the question every sales manager must ask.

Fixing performance problems always starts with Standards and Accountability. Accountability means taking responsibility for outcomes – good or bad. A sales leader’s primary responsibility is to put the BEST team into the marketplace. Much like a general manager in sports, a director of a theatre company or an orchestra leader of a symphony, you have a job and a responsibility to hire and use the best performers.

Raising-the-bar ultimately begins with you taking responsibility for those you are currently managing. What must you do to help generate their best performance?

Step #1 – Take responsibility for your own performance or lack of. Make a commitment to do whatever is necessary to get best performance.

Step #2 – Make your people responsible. Starting immediately, do not accept excuses for lack of performance. Make sure there are consequences for salespeople who show up late or miss meetings. Do not accept excuses about lack of prospecting activity. From now on, when a sales person uses an excuse, respond with: “If I didn’t let you use that as an excuse, what would you do differently?” and “What should you do differently in the future?”

Step #3 – Communicate expectations clearly. Tell your salespeople exactly what you expect. Ask them to repeat what they heard. Ask them to describe how these expectations impact their day, week, month, quarter and year. What will they do, or change, in order to meet these expectations? 

Then ask if they will accept the responsibility of meeting these expectations. They will say “yes.” But ask them if they are “sure.” Again, they will say “yes.” Warn them “It will be hard.”

Next ask them if they are willing to do everything possible to succeed. They will say “yes.” Finally, ask them what you should do if they fail to meet these expectations.

You have now raised the bar on expectations. You must now raise the bar on performance.

Step #4 – Establish ambitious goals and make them known in advance. Often the reason individuals and companies fail to perform is because minimal standards are set and people do only what it takes to meet them. This minimal goal approach sets you and your team up for failure.  Starting today, or as soon as you begin goal setting for your next fiscal year, eliminate minimal acceptable standards of performance and embrace a new and different path, one that includes extraordinary standards of performance.

Learn how to set extraordinary goals – download our ebook below!


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Topics: Sales Training, motivating sales people, sales training tips, sales tech


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    About our Blog

    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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