In last month’s “Behind the Counter,”theimportance of knowing you sales team’s mindset was discussed and how critical it is to grow your business.

Top-performing sales teams have growth-minded salespeople. At Plumbers Supply, we have a saying that in order to be successful we must have “the right people in the right seats on the bus.”

But where is the bus going? Without a plan or structured approach to where the bus is going makes it quite difficult for our growth-minded sales team to perform. A structured approach offers the team the road map to follow while providing leadership a performance metric to track, hence the phrase “structure breeds accountability.”

Two issues usually arise when leadership mentions accountability. The first is the sales team’s perception that “great big brother” is watching us. “How can we do our job if we have to keep reporting our activity?”

Next is the common mistake sales managers make when placing accountability. They look to individual accountability instead of team accountability, making the individual salesperson beholden to them rather than their teammates. But in team sports, a key motivation for player performance is not letting their teammates down. They understand for the team to be successful, everyone must do their job and recognize their peers know when someone is not performing. They do not need a coach, or in our case, leadership to put pressure on them because it already comes from teammates.

So how do you build team accountability into your sales plan that produces the results you want? Authors Chris McChesney and Sean Covey offer suggestions in their book “4DX: The 4 Disciplines of Execution.”

The first discipline is the easiest. It’s the goal — that exact place where you want the bus to go. For sales leaders, it’s the growth plan you want to achieve.

Discipline 2is acting on the lead measures that are the precise activities your sales team must perform to achieve the sales plan. This is the fuel that powers the bus. It is the hardest discipline of the 4DX process, but most critical to reaching your sales goal. Develop activities your sales team must perform each week that are necessary to meet your goal. There are many activities to consider such as the number of face-to-face contacts each week or a set number of quotes per week. The challenge is picking the best activities that give you the greatest results.

Discipline 3is keeping a compelling scoreboard. This is the discipline that drives team accountability. Once you have developed the team’s activities to perform, you must have a way to track them. A team scoreboard that measures both individual and team contribution does just this.

Setting minimum limits on the number of times an activity must be performed each week allows you to create a minimum compliance score for each activity, say 90%.  Anything less than 90% gets highlighted for all team members to see, revealing the weak links of the team for that week. The peer pressure alone from teammates and the individual’s willingness to not let the team down will eventually drive the compliance score to a level that achieves plan success.

Discipline 4creates the final step to accountability. This discipline asks the individual to make a weekly commitment to perform an action that will help the team reach its goal. This commitment is reviewed the following week to ensure the individual actually performed the commitment.

As you examine your sales strategy, pay close attention to the structure your top performers will operate in. Remember, top performers love talking strategy and will adopt platforms where their actions get results. It’s more reason to understand that structure breeds accountability.

This article was originally titled “Structure breeds accountability” in the June 2016 print edition of Supply House Times.