October 8, 2020

Straight Talk About Self-Accountability and the Primary Job of Salespeople

A client executive recently asked for some language to help new salespeople grasp the importance of pipeline self-accountability and accountability to sales management. 

After seeing the exec’s appreciation for what I suggested, I had the thought that this simple, straight forward advice might be helpful to you, as well. So, whether you’re a sales leader or an individual contributor, below are my very direct thoughts about the primary job of a salesperson:

"Attached is a key slide (image above) that you've seen from me many times, and below are some points that you may feel free to borrow/steal/use, etc. as part of the messaging to your sales teams:

- Your primary job is to increase revenue, not to "service" accounts or "cover" a territory

- The most important question to ask yourself on a weekly and monthly basis: "What new opportunities did I CREATE from my sales effort?"

- If the goal is to be involved in more deals and to increase market share, we must be focused on CREATING new opportunities

- We all want a full, healthy PIPELINE of potential deals/opportunities to work. A healthy, balanced pipeline ensures consistent business. To achieve a healthy pipeline, we must divide our time and focus across customers and opportunities in various stages of the cycle:

CREATE, ADVANCE, CLOSE (the only three sales verbs that matter)

That means you cannot spend all your time trying to close hot deals or servicing your favorite customers. You must be intentional to carve out time to prospect, to work your named ideal profile target prospects, and to penetrate into existing accounts where we don't have our fair share of their business. That requires focus and commitment to a STRATEGIC TARGET ACCOUNT LIST made up of non-customers and growable customers.

If you focus on your list, carve out time to work those non-accounts and growable accounts, AND HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE by tracking every week and every month HOW MANY OPPORTUNITIES you are creating, you will guarantee yourself a full pipeline and consistent new business development.

[Exec First Name], I am sure as you read the above, you could almost hear my voice as I've said some version of that many, many times in sessions for your managers or sales teams. It will be easy to explain to new salespeople that they should expect managers to hold them accountable for pipeline health and to track opportunities created and activity against target accounts."


Sales friends, the job of sales is to grow revenue. We should hold ourselves accountable (and expect our leaders to hold us accountable) for continually creating new opportunities. That’s the only way to ensure we maintain a healthy pipeline, consistent deal flow, and perpetually develop new business!