Our individualized sales training workshops in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto are a great opportunity for us to interact with Salespeople and learn how to best provide them with what they need to be successful.  Our philosophy is that success starts with what happens between your temples.  How you think and perceive your environment is the single largest influence on your ability to build a healthy sales funnel and meet your sales targets.  At a recent Workshop, I brought up the “A” word – accountability – to see what I could learn from the Salespeople attending.

While this might not be the “A” word you were thinking of, accountability is a term that has many different meanings depending on the individual you ask.  I asked a team of B2B Salespeople their honest opinion of what the word means to them.

What Accountability Means

No one offered their interpretation from the start.  Everyone just looked at each other wondering if anyone might be brave enough to respond knowing that Sales Managers were also in the group.  After asking the question again and inviting the bravest of Salespeople to be the leaders in the group, one Salesperson spoke up.

“That’s the word my Manager uses with me when I’m in his office explaining myself” he said with a smile on his face.  He pointed at his Manager across the room who also found his comment worth a chuckle.  We all had a good laugh as we all recalled those situations in our past.

This was going exactly where I hoped.  I wrote this on the white board.

“Accountability = in trouble with my boss.”

Wanting to continue the sincerity I just heard, I asked the team for more straight from the heart answers.

“Why would your manager use that word?  What is he or she trying to accomplish with you?”

The Responses

“They’re trying to get you to change and take responsibility for something they think you did wrong.”

“They want you to admit to making a mistake, so you won’t do it again.”

Again, these were 100% honest and straight-forward answers.  The Sales Managers in the group said nothing, wanting to see where I was taking this discussion.

I asked them in my best Dr. Phil impression “And how’s that working for ya?”  Silence from the group and a smirk from a few Salespeople confirmed that perhaps there was a better way to approach this subject.


I then wrote down this term and underlined the word “Self” a few times for impact.  I asked the group “What does this term mean?”  More brave Salespeople spoke up.

“That’s holding yourself responsible for what you do.”

“Taking ownership of your actions.”

“Being honest with yourself.”

No one was guarding their responses any longer.  They just talked freely without fear of repercussion. This was probably because we were having a general discussion without anyone feeling like we were talking about them specifically.

“Which one works better?”  I said, “Hearing the word accountability from your boss or using the term self-accountability on yourself?”   Silence with a couple of thoughtful looks up at me.

“Which one gets you out of your boss’s office quicker?”  The same Salesperson who spoke up from the beginning said “Self-Accountability.”

“Why?”  I was hoping that no one would clam up fearing that management would win the discussion without even having to say anything.

“Because that’s what they want to hear” was the response that came back immediately.

I decided to make my point with one more question to get clarity.

“So seriously, which one is more effective?  Your boss talking about you taking your accountability or you taking self-accountability in front of your Manager?  In the end, which gets more accomplished?”

Several Salespeople replied with “Self.”  I also took the opportunity to have a discussion on timing.  We all know its far better to be self-accountable and notify your boss about something before he or she has to drag you into their office upon discovering it.

3 Major Learning Lessons Regarding Accountability

  1. Having the courage and confidence to admit to a mistake and addressing it before your Manager hears of it is a true sign of leadership and career maturity.
  2. There is no stronger form of accountability than self- accountability.  If your standards of personal performance are equal or higher than a reasonable Manager’s expectation, then you are part of your company’s successful future.  If you’re with the right company, you’ll be treated that way
  3. Thinking like your Manager is no different than what great Salespeople do with their buyers. Decision makers have specific needs that must be met.   Want to have more productive meetings with your Sales Manager?  Anticipate what is important to them in doing their job. Being proactive with clients always drives sales.  Doing the same with your boss furthers your relationship and builds trust.

What do you think?  I’d love to read your comments below.   Please feel free to share this article on your favorite social media platform.  If you’re a smart Salespeople dedicated to developing your skill set check out our book  SHUT UP!  Stop Talking and Start Making Money available on Kindle and paperback on Amazon.  Our online sales training program  The Sales Skills Incubator is a comprehensive 8-hour course with a downloadable workbook for practical implementation in your specific sales role.  Take the free trial on Chapter 1 – The Stigma of Sales.

Thanks!PROSALESGUY Dave Warawa

Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY