The Power of Responsibility



Together, involvement and empowerment create an environment in which sales people can have responsibility for their own actions.

High performing sales teams require clear objectives so they know exactly what they must do and why, good communication and trust so that having created such a situation, a sales leader will let sales people get on with things. These elements build higher motivation because sales teams enjoy having the authority to make decisions and get the job done.

A sales person’s willingness to participate collaboratively as a team member does not guarantee that the team will create their desired outcome. If sales people are thrown into a collaborative situation and simply told to work as a team, they will lack the structure to make this happen. After all, why should a sales person care about their sales team?

Promoting understanding of why sales people need to be a team is vital. The team needs to understand its shared goals and what each team member brings to the team that is relevant and crucial to its overall successes. Therefore, to optimize the talent capability within a sales team it’s important to identify what each sales person’s unique ability is, and how their unique ability can be shared for the betterment of the team.

For example; sales people have their own unique sets of beliefs, some of which limit their potential in sales. For instance, during a recession, some members of a sales force may believe that strong sales are impossible. But if one person increases their sales, what seemed an inevitable fact will suddenly appear more like a thin excuse for poor performance.

Within every sales team there are individuals who hold a number of empowering beliefs. Giving them an opportunity to share those beliefs along with the evidence that supports them can be a very transformational experience for the entire team.

Some members of a sales team may be extremely competent and if they are not stretched there is a danger they could become complacent. Therefore, utilizing these sales people as coaches and mentors for less capable sales people produces an all round win.

Maximizing a sales team around one common goal that creates value for the customer, the organization, and the individual sales person is the only way to focus the activities of a sales team.

It is critical that each individual is able to measure the value of each activity undertaken during the day and can make the connection to the overarching goals of the organization. If there is no clear line of sight between what they are doing and the value to the customer, clearly they are doing the wrong thing.

When a sales team views mistakes as opportunities for improving their team’s process and results, it’s a sign that the sales leader has successfully created an environment that promotes problem-solving.

People are problem solvers by nature. When they are allowed to create their own solutions (rather than having expert solutions imposed upon them) sales people are more proactive and engaged. Sales teams also have greater ownership of solutions they discover for themselves. Creating an environment that promotes problem-solving is part of creating an effective sales team structure.

Poor sales team structure can have a negative impact on individual performance, and the cause of poor performance can usually be attributed to a function of the sales team structure rather than individual incompetence. If sales people are encouraged to be overly competitive with their peers to compete for rewards and recognition, they will withhold information that might be useful to the greater team.

When a sales team has problems, the effective sales leader will focus first on the team’s structure before focusing on individuals.

The message is clear: Responsibility cannot be given – it can only be taken; therefore a sales leader can only give sales people the opportunity to take responsibility for their work demands.


News: Over on Top Sales World, two new interviews that I think you will enjoy … On Top Sales Hardtalk Christian Maurer and I discuss how to avoid having pipelines full of unwinnable opportunities by knowing when to say NO – early.

On Sales Management Issues, John Doerr and I lament the paucity of investment in sales management development and argue the case for an urgent re-think. You will find both recordings on the TSW home page



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