3 Breakthrough Sales Growth Keys To Stop UN-Accountability (Ownership)
“Help! I need a new sales growth strategy! I’m at the end of my rope listening to the myriad of excuses from my sales team! They are so Un-accountable.”
This was the opening line of an email from Carol, the owner of a packaging company.
When I called Carol later that afternoon, I heard her distress.
“I’m frustrated with my team’s UN-accountable attitude. They blame the pandemic, the government, the marketing department, the competition. It’s an endless list! They even blame me! They are unmanageable.”
Carol and her team are stuck in the UN-Culture. What is a Sales UN-culture? It’s when the sales systems, processes, and staffing don’t support a pathway to sales success.
This culture of UN-precedented challenges, UN-certainty, and UN-predictability was destroying Carol’s goal to get on a pathway to success.
UN-accountability, or a lack of ownership, is one of the obstacles that limit our sales growth. In contrast, an Ownership Mindset increases the effectiveness for everyone.
What frustrations do you have in managing your salespeople to take ownership of their results?
An Ownership Mindset is Key to Leadership Development Coaching
In the previous articles in this series, we’ve taken a deep dive into today’s UN-culture.
- In the first article, I’ve spotlighted your leadership role as a Vision Caster. When you ask “What” questions, you ensure your team is focused on moving forward, instead of being stuck in the past.
- The second article focused on the positive impact you can make as a Strategy Formulator. Use the power of “Might” to create plans that set the pathway for your team to achieve the Big Hairy Audacious Goals.
In this article, we’re looking at your critically important role as The Coach. How might you add value – to the team, the organization, the community?
One Powerful Question Ignites an Ownership Mindset
Great leaders don’t make excuses. They coach their teams to take ownership of their reality and create the results they need. Experienced coaches develop the capacity of the team to achieve their full potential.
In this series, we’re talking about a power-packed question, “What might I do to make a positive impact?”
Notice the word “I,” not they.
Let’s do a deep-dive on the power of this one tiny word. It’s key to your success in tackling the UN-culture.
A tiny word that will make a huge difference in your sales growth results.
Watch this video: Video 1 – How to Increase Sales Growth Revenue Regardless of the Economy
Shrinking-Thinking Locks Up Sales Growth
In my work with sales leaders and their teams, I quickly identify two groups.
- The Top Performers, with Ownership Thinking: They ask questions that expand their capacity and influence. (More about them later.)
- All Bottom Performers, with Shrinking Thinking: They rarely ask productive questions. When I ask them what they need to improve their results, I don’t get answers. They prefer to complain, blame others, and come up with excuses.
I’m always saddened by this toxic, Shrinking Thinking mindset. Why? The salespeople with this mindset are surrendering their own brilliance – a brilliance needed to discover solutions. As they complain, their personal capacity shrinks. They lose influence as they become helpless and powerless. They are stuck in the UN-productivity.
Experts have different names for the Shrinking Thinking phenomenon. Some call it playing the Blame-Game. Others talk of a Victim-Mindset, and some just call it Finger-Pointing.
Here’s the Problem: Shrinking Thinking is cancerous.
It destroys our God-given brilliance.
Interestingly, the experts say that this unproductive mindset is rampant in our culture. It’s a bit distressing – 60% of salespeople have some sort of Blame-Game thinking. 60%! Yikes!
What are the keys to training Shrinking Thinkers to become Ownership Thinkers?
Watch this video: Video 2 – One Tiny Word That Has a Tremendous Impact on Your Sales Growth Results
How to Increase Sales: 3 Steps to Build an Ownership Culture
When you, and your salespeople, take ownership of your situation, something almost magical happens. Your creative brilliance and ability to find solutions is released.
Here are 3 Key Action Steps that you can use to coach and strengthen their Ownership Mindset.
1. Identify the Blame-Gaming Thinking that Blocks Sales Growth
Carol knows that a crisis, like the pandemic, causes the list of excuses and things to blame, to grow exponentially. And when the crisis blows over, the Blame-Gamers come up with a new set of excuses and people to blame. Carol was eager to tackle this Sales UN-Culture obstacle. But first, she had to identify who had fallen victim to the toxic Shrinking Thinking trend.
Here are some of the statements (excuses) she heard from her team…
- Blaming external factors – “The competition is too tough! They’re cutting their prices. How am I supposed to compete?”
- Making excuses – “Remote working isn’t working for me. I feel as if I have to fend for myself and do everything on my own.”
- Pointing fingers – “The marketing department isn’t giving me the tools I need to sell more. They’re completely off-target.”
- Expecting others to find solutions – “My sales manager isn’t doing anything to get us back on track.”
I’m sure you can add more Shrinking-Thinking statements to Carol’s list.
Now it’s time to start eliminating these UN-productive behaviors from your sales culture.
2. Ask Questions that Ignite an Ownership Mindset, a Leadership Development Key
For more than 25 years, I’ve worked as a Growth Coach and Consultant.
In our research of over 2 million salespeople, we find that there are certain traits that will always be present in the Top Performers. These are the salespeople who are successful year after year. They are dealing with every imaginable obstacle thrown in their way. They aren’t saying oh-poor-me. Each team member is digging in, giving it their best. They are researching, getting insights, and continuously learning. Top Performers are committed to delivering results, no matter what they’re up against.
Top performers don’t wait for someone else to create a smooth track to run on. Instead, they ask questions like:
- What might I do to make a positive impact?
- What might I do to deal more effectively with this obstacle?
- What might I do to get the client back on track?
Notice our tiny word, “I” is present in all these questions!
An Ownership Mindset challenges your salespeople to use their ingenuity to expand their capacity. Their brilliance grows! They get results.
In fact, research indicates that without an Ownership Culture, you will NOT be successful. It’s that critical to success!
To maximize your sales coaching and sales strategy efforts, ask questions that challenge your salespeople to…
- examine their own contributions,
- accept responsibility for making a positive difference,
- take ownership of how they’re choosing to think, feel and act.
Carol is intentional in spotting and leveraging questions that include the word, “I. These questions are designed to motivate salespeople to stop making excuses and maximizing the search for creative solutions.
- What might I do to gain a deeper understanding of the real business issues my prospect is dealing with?
- What might I do to get more at the top of my sales funnel and how do I increase sales?
- What might I learn to improve my consultative selling skills?
- What obstacles do I need to remove so that I can be successful?
3. How to Manage Millennials: Build Relationships of Trust
Inspiring an Ownership Mindset is not a dictatorial exercise where you command and “they” must follow. Instead, it provides an opportunity for leaders like Carol to become a trusted coach. How do you lead the team back to a growth path where they reach their full potential?
Carol focused on building a trusting relationship with each of her salespeople. Here are some insights that she used that you will find helpful…
- Be consistent so that your Millennial can always depend on you.
- Help your team to see things from a fresh perspective.
- Never force your ideas on them, but guide them to think through their decisions.
- Don’t panic or get emotionally involved – always remain calm, cool, and collected, then you can coach them to separate logic from emotion.
- When you do have to correct, do it gently and in private.
- Guide your salespeople to identify options, and increase their understanding of those options, so that they can make wise choices.
What other ideas would you add to this list?
Bold Decisions and the Key on How to Increase Sales
With targeted coaching and mentoring, Carol soon got everyone on her team back on track!
Coaching your salespeople is worth every minute of your time. See them turning from Shrinking Thinking to embracing an Ownership Mindset. You will create a team that is radically relevant, highly competitive, and wildly successful, regardless of market and economic disruption.
Encourage them to ask, “What might I do to make a positive impact today?”
It’s a bold leadership decision for you to make.
I invite you to follow Carol’s example. You, and your team, can become unstuck from the Sales UN-Culture, and can stop being UN-Productive. Now is the time to expand your adaptability, effectiveness, and influence. Your leadership matters greatly.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series to learn about the fourth word in our powerful sentence, “do.”
If you’ve missed the previous articles in this series, get them here:
Sales Growth Lesson: Leaders with an Ownership Mindset take responsibility for their choices and results.
Sales Growth Question: What might you do to strengthen the Ownership Mindset of your Millennial salespeople so that they will expand their sales capacity?