EPISODE 336: Sales Expert Kristie Jones Tells Why Accountability Should Be Your Main Focus in 2021

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the CREATIVITY IN SALES Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on January 28, 2021. It featured Kristie Jones of the Sales Acceleration Group.]

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KRISTIE’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Manage your expectations. The reason why sales leaders are disappointed a lot of times is because you haven’t told your team what you need or want from them, so start practicing today. What do I want from you that I’m not getting? Practice having that conversation. I was talking to somebody else the other day and somebody said, “Holding people accountable sounds really hard and awkward” and I said, “Not holding people accountable is worse.”

Fred Diamond: Accountability is my word for 2021 and I think it’s a huge word for sales professionals to be successful. First off, it’s great to see you, I’m excited to be talking to you today. It’s a huge word, people are looking for accountability, they’re looking for ideas on how to take their sales career to the next level.

Kristie Jones: Fred, thank you so much for having me, I’m so excited that it is your word of the year, I can’t wait, this will be a perfect for us and I can’t wait to hear your opinion.

Fred Diamond: Excellent, let’s get started. What does accountability mean? Let’s hit it off right to the top, again we have sales professionals around the world either watching the webinar live or listening in the future to the webinar or maybe reading the transcript. Tell us what accountability means and then tell us what it means from a leadership and then from a sales professional perspective.

Kristie Jones: Accountability is doing what you say you’re going to do, walking your talk, making your audio and your video match. Difference between holding yourself accountable and being able to hold others accountable so like you said, accountability has a lot of different definitions. I think having the discipline to hold yourself accountable but also having the discipline to hold employees accountable if you’re a manager. I also spend a decent amount of time talking about how to hold prospects accountable, speeds up sales cycle, makes life easier if you’re the manager, makes you a better employee and on the favorites list if you’re an employee. Lots of reasons why being accountable and the concept of accountability is truly important and I think is a strategy, not a tactic.

Fred Diamond: Give me a ball park figure here. Do you think people hold themselves accountable? What percentage of people do you think really either understand accountability or are disciplined enough to hold themselves accountable?

Kristie Jones: If you’re talking about the entire general population, I’m afraid it may be a little bit below 50%. I work with a lot of top performers and top talent whether that be leaders or individual contributors. Top performers understand this concept and that number is at 80% or better, on a regular basis it’s just part of who they are, it’s in their DNA, it’s part of their character and their integrity and it’s not something that they have to think about, it’s something they committed to at some point but now it’s just part of their DNA.

Fred Diamond: Most of the people watching today’s webinar or listening to the podcast are either sales leaders or sales professionals who report up to sales leaders. For the sales leaders out there, we’re talking about holding your people accountable but how do you think they should be held accountable to their reports, to the people above them as well?

Kristie Jones: It’s interesting, I just wrote an article on this topic and I said before you decide to go holding anybody else accountable, let’s take a quick look in the mirror and see how it feels. It would be impossible for me to hold any of my clients accountable or the sales reps that I work with if they couldn’t count on me. Are you showing up for meetings on time? Are you sending out the information to your employees that you say you’re going to or to your CEO? Are you getting your sales reports in on time? Are you getting your commission reports in on time? Like you said, you cannot hold people accountable, there’s no street cred, as I say. You’ve got no street cred, if you’re not willing to do what you say you’re going to do consistently, if you ask me to hold myself accountable or be held accountable by you, that’s not going to feel great. I say accountability starts at the top and it really starts with the CEO. I even talk a little bit about transparency. I work with mostly VC-backed companies in the startup space or in the software space and mostly SaaS companies, and most of the founders are very transparent about P&Ls about where business is. I thought it was particularly important this time last year as we started to move into the pandemic making sure that you’re transparent. I think transparency is also part of accountability, it’s honesty, it’s building trust, there’s a lot that wraps around that.

Fred Diamond: Kristie, let’s get to know you a little better. You just mentioned that you do  a lot of work with funded companies and you help them get their sales and processes in place. Tell us a little more about your domain expertise and what you do. Again, we interview sales thought leaders every Friday on the Creativity in Sales, a number of our past guests said, “You’ve got to get Kristie on the show” so we’ve gotten to know you, we’ve read a lot of your blogs and your content. When we had our conversation back at the end of 2020, when you mentioned accountability I said, “We’ve got to get you on.” Tell us a little more about you and tell us how you help sales leaders and sales teams.

Kristie Jones: I consider myself a sales process strategist. A lot of times I’m asked to come in and evaluate sales teams or provide some training and I would say that I like doing that, but the first thing I say is I’m not really willing to do any of that until I come in and look at the process. I consider accountability part of that as well, when I go and review someone’s sales process I review their compensation plans, I review their PIT plans, like what happens when someone is not performing? What does the accountability culture feel like? It’s unfair to ask somebody to come in and try to be successful and hit quota if you don’t have a formal and improved process that has had repeated success.

First thing I do is like I said, process strategist, I come in, I say I need access to all of your systems, I need access to all of your people, I need to sit in on things, I need to understand how you’re working top of the funnel process, I need to understand how you’re working people through the sales process. What about retention, lifetime client? I spent some time at a company called Gainsight which is the #1 customer success platform in the world and I’ve managed customer success teams as well. I do the process holistically and then I start to say, “Can anybody even be successful under the current situation in process?” and then we can start to evaluate people and training, where the training gaps are and things like that. I say I’m a consultant that gets her hands dirty so I don’t just hand you your 7 page guide to success and then adios, I really dig and get in the trenches and make sure. Again, I work mostly just for privately owned companies that have limited financial and people resources so I really want to come in and sometimes I have to come and dig in and help do the work because there’s just not enough time for people to do so.

Fred Diamond: We’re beginning to get some questions here, this first question comes in from Gerald and Gerald is not too far from you, he’s in Ohio – actually, that’s pretty far, Kristie is in Saint Louis, I’m in Northern Virginia, we have listeners around the globe. Gerald wants to know, “What are some specific things that I should hold my people accountable for?” That’s interesting, let’s get a little bit specific here. I happen to know Gerald, he’s a member of the Institute for Excellence in Sales and he’s with a large Fortune 500 company, he manages a team of SDRs and first level account managers. If I’m a manager managing those types of people, obviously you want to hold people accountable to getting their numbers but let’s talk about some other things that you think would be effective in holding them accountable.

Kristie Jones: Gerald, here you go, I already got the list for you. Not just quota, as Fred mentioned, activity too. What does that mean? With top talent or top performers, I hold them accountable to the numbers of new deals that they self-source and then I wrote new deals that go into the pipeline in general but I never ever allow anyone to not self-source. Self-source deals close at a higher close rate, they close at a quicker pace and so there’s never a time, in my opinion, that even as a top talent, even as a 6-figure, $5 million dollar quota producer that you should not be self-sourcing some deals. Right now while we’re still working from home I think I need to understand the expectations around the work schedule. Do you have small children at home? Are you running, do you have to pick them up from the bus or do you have to do math with them at 2:00 o’clock? Work schedule people have been real flexible, I’ve been really proud of my founders and owners around this topic because a lot of them had never done the virtual work-from-home gig. I said to them, “If they’re going to disappear on you from 2:00 to 3:00 o’clock every day, you need to know that and that’s fine, but that needs to be some expectation that we talk about.”

The other thing I talk about with new employees when I was back doing VP of Sales work myself is how do you like to be communicated with? I’m potentially a little bit older, Fred, than some of the people that I work with, Slack is real and I’ve adjusted but back in the day I said to people, “If my door’s open, you’re welcome to walk through it. If my door isn’t open, assume that I’m not available and shoot me a quick IM or shoot me an email.” I’ve always preferred when I can face-to-face interaction but the Millennials and the Gen Z-ers prefer Slack so it’s a question I ask now. “If I need to send some information quickly to you or I’ve got a question, how would you like me to communicate with you?” I hear Slack almost more than anything, “Just Slack me” but it’s not just activity and quota. I think it’s work schedule, communication and expectations are a two-way street. Like I said, when I talk about communication I say, “Listen, I prefer face-to-face or voice over Slack so if you want to reach out to me, I prefer that way of communication but I’m happy to oblige you under your form of communication.”

What happens when somebody’s expectations are off? What happens if you let me down, Fred? We talk about that, I say don’t wait till something goes south before you talk about how we address that. Even though I’m dealing with top-performing sales reps and I say they’re comfortable with sales tension, they’re not always comfortable with personal tension. How do you want me to approach you? We all know we shouldn’t be doing it in a public forum, we need to be doing it in a private way but do you want to go to lunch? Do you want to do it after hours? Do you want me to catch you around the lunch hour? If I have to have a disappointing expectations talk with you, how do you want that to happen? Still it’s too late when they decide to address something and then you’re not doing it in a way that somebody might be most receptive.

Fred Diamond: Gerald says, “Thank you very much.” We have a note here from Lauren, Lauren says she’s also from Saint Louis and I’ll ask her where she’s from specifically, I know you’re from Kansas originally, correct?

Kristie Jones: Yes, I grew up in the Topeka, Kansas City and I’m a Jayhawker, so rock chalk, Jayhawk.

Fred Diamond: Talk about what realistic expectations are right now, and maybe realistic isn’t the right word, but realistic expectations of senior sales professionals if I’m a sales leader and expectations of junior sales professionals if I’m a sales leader. I’m curious on your thoughts.

Kristie Jones: I use the term A-player privilege. With my senior sales reps I give them A-player privilege. I’m still going to hold senior top talent A-players to sourcing new pipeline and growing their pipeline on a month by month basis, but I may not be holding them accountable to checking in with me three times a day or three times a week. It’s A-player privilege, they’ve earned that. Back pre-pandemic I thought part of A-player privilege was being able to work from home occasionally when you needed to and maybe even a set day a week because those people have earned my trust, have proven that they can do that. I think with my senior team now I’m asking for a lot of market feedback and industry feedback. What are you seeing, what are you hearing, what about products? We did a lot of product pivot in the last 9 months, sometimes we’re doing product pivot so I really want that feedback and I expect my senior team to provide that for me and that I can disseminate that back to products and those types of things.

On the junior team it gets super hard, I’ve on-boarded probably 6 reps in the last 6 months virtually, it’s really hard. When I used to on board people we were in the office in the cubicle environment, I said, “At any point in time if you’re doing something and you overhear a conversation, just stop what you’re doing and eavesdrop as long as you can and then ask them to postmortem that with you or send you the full reporting so you can hear both sides afterwards.” Without the ability to do that, what I said to my senior reps particularly and I have two new very young ones up in Madison, Wisconsin, a plan I have over there, I said, “Ask me everything, even the things you think will make you look stupid. Please don’t make any assumptions because there’s nobody to go lean around the cubicle and go, ‘How do I handle that?’ I would rather you ask something that you think is going to be a no-brainer for me which it probably is and that’s fine then to not ask at all. Please reach out to your senior team members and ask if you can sit in on calls.” On the job training is real and overhearing calls and how people handle things is real.

The other thing I’m asking everyone to do is set time at the beginning of every month for what I’ll call self-care. I had one of the same reps up in Madison say to me, “I’m going to take a half-day next Friday for self-care” and we’re just using the term. I said to them, “It’s really hard, I encourage everybody to take the week between Thanksgiving or Christmas and New Year’s off” and everybody did. I just said, “Get refreshed, recharged, reengage, take time to do that.” I think right now it’s really critical and I’m spending a lot of time with leaders having this conversation about employee engagement and stress levels and how we’re managing that and I’m sharing things as well.

The last few months from a personal perspective I’ve had some family issues that have popped up that have been very challenging for me and I’m disclosing those. I had a rep the other day ping me and say, “Listen, my call volume might be off a little bit, today my great-grandfather died.” I also tell leaders, “You’ve gotten more personal with your employees so I expect that you might hear more things like that than you’ve heard in the past even from a home situation where they’re not going to disappear on you during the day, but their minds are maybe not where they need to be.” Top talent can also be looking out for the junior talent and pulling them along. I’m just trying to help people create a supportive environment right now.

Fred Diamond: We have a comment here from Rick, and Rick asks if you could expand on the bottom bullet there. For the people listening in, it says, “How should you handle a situation where either of you feels expectations haven’t been met?” We’re doing today’s interview in January of 2021, we’re right smack in the middle of the pandemic, there’s a lot of challenges going on. You mentioned you had some things, everybody’s been touched by this in obvious ways. Let’s talk a little bit about honesty and communications knowing that we might not know everything that’s going on. After this, you mentioned before about holding your prospects and your customers accountable, I want to get deep into that. Briefly answer the question about communication where expectations haven’t been met and then let’s get into managing accountability of your prospects and customers.

Kristie Jones: I’ve got a little more expectation information there and this gets to Rick’s question. Bottom bullet there: “What would you like me to do if…?” I just ask. I’m big on expectation discussions, I hold formal discussions if I’m playing fractional sales leader, I just held expectation discussions two weeks ago with a group of four, two BDRs and two SDRs and two AEs and I said, “What can I hold you accountable to?” We negotiate that, I followed back up, put that in writing but the last thing I always ask everybody is, “What would you like me to do if one of the bullet points on our list here is falling short?” I used to only ask this question, Fred, during PIT plan discussions and I’m a big believer that sales reps should write their own PIT plan.

Fred Diamond: We have a quick comment here, people are asking me, “What does PIT mean?”

Kristie Jones: Performance Improvement Plan. When someone’s really falling short and we get to the place where we have to have a written documentation as opposed to just a verbal conversation, the two of us will outline where the deficiencies have come, but I ask the employee to write their own performance improvement plan. Again, little hard for me to hold someone accountable to something that they don’t agree to or they didn’t participate in but the last question I asked them under that circumstance was, “What would you like me to do if you don’t hit the weekly goals that you’ve set for yourself or you’re falling further behind?” Now I’m holding them during the expectation discussions.

Pre-pandemic I would say I was probably holding these expectation discussions only annually or bi-annually, now I’m recommending we hold them quarterly. Things are just moving too quickly and business expectations are shifting so what I said to you in Q1 that we needed from the company’s perspective may be very different from what we need from you in Q2. These are not part of your one-on-one’s, I do one-on-one meetings, I do separate pipeline review meeting with reps, this is a separate meeting. I follow that up with a written documentation and just say, “Sleep on this and if anything changes, you have 24 hours to come back to me and renegotiate.”

Fred Diamond: I have a question for you, you’ve worked with a lot of companies. We have a comment here from Cathleen, “You come to a time as a sales manager where you may need to ‘de-hire’. The PITS need to be clear and quantifiable.” I want to ask you a question about that, we’ve heard from some of our younger sales professionals who have gotten fired over the last couple of months. As a matter of fact, you and I are active LinkedIn people and on LinkedIn I see people with new jobs every single day because there’s been pressures and the companies might not have been as flexible. Also interesting, on yesterday’s Optimal Sales Mindset webinar, Craig Lemasters who is an expert on a lot of things, but we talked about getting unstuck. He said one of the greatest bits of advice that he ever got was, “If I knew I was going to fire someone two years from now, I wish you would have told me two years ago.” I’m just curious on your thoughts and Cathleen, thank you for the question. Right now, again, it’s a tough time but we also talked before about a lot of companies that are in some markets obviously having trouble but growth is beginning to happen in some regards in a lot of places. What are your thoughts on that about if you sense that the person is never going to be accountable, no matter how leeway you are about knocking them off right away?

Kristie Jones: I am on the no tolerance program there and one of those earlier slides talked about hiring accountability and I’m going to offer your audience an opportunity to get my behavioral-based interview questions around the competency of accountability. You can hire for that and you can fire for that, it doesn’t take long to figure out. I come in and say to founders and owners and sales leaders, “Once we create a culture of accountability, you’re going to lose a percentage of your staff. There’s a percentage of your staff that is just not going be willing to be held accountable and that’s fine because there are plenty of companies out there that won’t hold them accountable.” There are jobs out there for everyone and companies out there for everyone. I think one of the later slides talks about accountability dodgers, the difference between being not willing or not able. Not able, that could be a training situation, that could be, “I don’t understand what accountability means, I didn’t grow up in a family of accountability.” You have to teach accountability sometimes just like you have to teach objection handling, so we can’t just fire somebody if they don’t really understand what it means to be held accountable. That’s why I say it starts with the expectation meeting because if you come out of the expectation meeting and you don’t say anything about not understanding something, now we have a different level of conversation we’re going to have to have. That’s your opportunity to say, “I just never run on time” and that’s my opportunity to say, “And that’s never going to be okay.” If you’re upfront about these things, it just makes life so much easier. One of the things that I require is that the one-on-one document that I ask my sales reps to fill out if I’m doing fractional sales leadership get to me the night before our meeting. If you show up to the meeting and I don’t have your document, we don’t hold a meeting. This isn’t a shock to you because I’ve already told you that’s going to happen. Guess what almost never happens to me? I almost always have the document the night before and if I have it first thing in the morning, it’s with a major amount of apologies.

Fred Diamond: I want to ask you about being accountable with customers and prospects, but I just want to follow up on one thing. I mentioned we have a sales rep who was with one of our member companies at the Institute for Excellence in Sales and he was let go and he asked me to give him a little bit of coaching. By the way, if you’re under the age of 30 and talking to people like me – and Kristie is a lot younger than me – call Mr. and Mrs. Anyways, he said, “My weakness, Mr. Diamond, is that I have a real struggle with punctuality. How do I explain that at the interview? I said, “Here’s what I would do: be punctual. That is a thing that you need to fix.” One quick comment, on the Optimal Sales Mindset show back in October we had a guy named Tom Dreesen, Tom Dreesen was the opening act for Frank Sinatra for 15 years and he talked about the mindset of Frank Sinatra, the greatest entertainer of the last 100 years. He said, “If Sinatra said he’s going to meet you at noon and you showed up at noon and five seconds, he was gone.” For people out there listening who are struggling with punctuality, you’re not President Clinton, be punctual, be on time, just fix that problem.

Thank you so much for all the great insights here. We have time for a couple more questions, let’s talk about accountability and your customers because that’s an interesting idea. We talked a lot about accountability with your team or as a leader up and down, higher and below. Let’s talk about how you can or should hold your customers accountable and that’s actually something that comes up as a struggle all the time. “I’ve sent a proposal but the customer’s gone cold.” Let’s talk about that.

Kristie Jones: Same thing. I have this conversation with sales reps all the time. First off, we need to be setting expectations and we need to set those expectations before the discovery call. We’re getting to the discovery call and I’m very clear with my clients. As an example of an expectation conversation I have, I say to them, “I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions today, I’m not always the right fit for everybody so I need to fully understand your situation in order to determine whether or not I’m the right person. If I’m not, there’s probably about a 97% chance I can send you to the right person. The more transparent and honest you are with me, the better this is going to go for us.” I start with that right away and then towards the end, I start to say, “Yes, I think I can help and here’s how I will.” But I say to them every time, “You and I have spent some time together so you understand my communication style.” My brother has always said to me, I think affectionately, “Kristie, you know you’re just not for everyone” so I give them that out right there. I say to them, “If you can’t handle the fact that maybe your baby is ugly and that might come out of my mouth or you have a sales team that may be a little more sensitive or a little more junior – because I have a very direct communication style – I’m not insensitive, I’m not unprofessional but I am a tell-it-the-way-it-is kind of a person and I don’t know that that works for every single prospect that I encounter. If that’s you, please sleep on this and it’s totally okay for you to come back to me tomorrow and say, ‘Listen, I’m not sure that your way of communicating will work for my team'”. Fred, all my business comes from referral, I don’t need that.

The other thing I do is I call it homework and I give it. Yesterday I met with a brand new client for our kick off meeting and I said to him, “By Monday I need access to all of your systems, I need these people’s contact information and I need to be paid, so here’s my routing number and my account number, and then here’s my homework. Here’s what you’ll expect from me by Monday.” This is how we start to hold people accountable. I even say to reps, “Don’t send out the contract until they’ve agreed to sign and return it in 24 hours. If they’re not ready to sign and return it in 24 hours, then they’re not ready and you need to go back and figure out. It’s normally a value issue, I’ve not shown value or I’ve missed something or I didn’t answer a question.” People are like, “Yeah, go ahead and send the contract over” and I go, “Okay, so you’ll be prepared to sign and return it within 24 hours?” and then all of a sudden I find out that they’re not signing it or that they’re going to be out of town. I do the same thing when I’m interviewing and hiring candidates, I say to them, “Here’s my verbal offer, I’m not willing to put a written offer in place until you’re prepared to sign and return it within 24 hours. Are we at that place?” That’s when I learn that no, they’re still talking to somebody else. Holding your prospects accountable, if you have an accountability mindset it goes to everything. I say to reps, “If you get to the very end of your three month sale cycle and that contract and that person goes under and it’s dark down there, not resurfacing, then have you really been holding them accountable every single time?” That means, like you said, showing up on time. That means not moving meetings, that means showing up and not saying that your dog ate your homework. That’s doing what you say when you say you’re going to do it. When you’re holding yourself accountable, I find that that increases other people’s accountability exponentially.

Fred Diamond: We have another question here from Cathleen, “Do you recommend asking anything during the interview process to see if they have an accountability mindset?” That’s a great question, Cathleen. We have a couple questions coming in about accountability partners which we’ll talk about in a second. I know you’re an expert on hiring as well and bringing the right people into the right place, are there any signals or questions maybe that you ask to determine it? One of the biggest challenges that sales managers tell us is that we talk about transparency, we talk about vulnerability and all those things but people still sometimes say what they think the manager wants to hear. “Yes, boss, they’re definitely going to sign the contract next week” but you didn’t talk to everybody, you didn’t confirm pricing before. I love your idea, don’t send a proposal unless you know that they’re going to be signing it. Back to Cathleen’s question here, what are some of your tips on understanding if the employee understands accountability?

Kristie Jones: Hiring for accountability and interviewing for accountability, again, doable skill. To all the listeners that are on today or to listen down the road, either email me at the email address that you see there or connect with me on LinkedIn, I have a one-sheeter of my top 8 accountability behavioral-based interview questions that I am happy to slide your way. One of my favorite questions is the following: Fred, tell me about the last quarter that you missed quota and what were the circumstances surrounding that? Let’s be honest, I’m looking for them falling on the sword. “My pipeline wasn’t full enough, I didn’t have enough deals in there.” This is why people miss quota, if you have a 20% close rate, you need five times the pipeline. I call it basic sales math, this is sales math 101. When I start hearing, “My SDR had some issues and I wasn’t getting as many appointments” or, “I have a shitty territory” or, “We’re in the middle of a pandemic.”

If the answer to that question is all of those excuses… I interviewed a candidate a couple weeks ago who said, “If I miss quota, it’s my fault, I did something wrong.” Then you have to start peeling back the onion, that’s a great starter answer but then I go, “If you did something wrong, what might the top 2 or 3 things you might have done wrong be?” Then, “What might you have been able to do mid-course correct that you didn’t? Why didn’t you mid-course correct that? If you know those are the top 2 or 3 reasons why you might miss quota, then how did we miss not holding ourselves accountable during the quarter?” I call it question on a question. Ask that big question, get the answer, ask a follow-up question, get the answer, that’s how we peel back the onion until you get to the root of the problem. Again, some people have never been taught accountability and some people want to be held accountable, circumstances sometimes do arise but those people have to say, “This is no longer an option for me, now what’s an option for me? I can no longer go take donuts, cookies or take my clients to the lunch because we’re in a pandemic, now what am I going to do?” Well, schedule virtual lunches.

Fred Diamond: You better figure it out. We’re talking today with Kristie Jones with the Sales Acceleration Group, LinkedIn to her if you haven’t already and if you haven’t LinkedIn to me, Fred Diamond, what are you waiting for? Please do. Kristie, we’ve got time for one more question and then I want to ask you for your final action step on what people should be doing today to take their sales career to the next level. We talked before about accountability partners and a couple people have chimed in on that. It’s a common term, accountability partners, of course we’ve been talking a lot today that you want to be as a sales professional accountable to your manager, and as a manager you want to be accountable to your leader and also to people on your team as well. One thing we talk a lot about on the Sales Game Changers webinars and podcasts is building support, especially now during a challenging time. Should you have an accountability partner? How do you make that work? Is it a real thing? Should I go get on today? Give us your advice on that.

Kristie Jones: I think most people don’t have an accountability partner, I think most people who get an accountability partner don’t do anything with it. I think this is a little bit of a fluffy thing, to be honest with you. I have been somebody’s accountability partner who canceled quarterly meetings. Let’s just be honest and be accountable to ourselves, first and foremost. If we’re not able to do that, we’re not going to allow anybody else to hold us accountable either. You’re having a guest on down the road here, G.B. Freeman, G.B. and I did strategic planning together, we took a day and we did four hours a piece of strategic planning and he and I are having dinner tonight and I’m taking my strategic planning sheet with me. I’m already off to a pretty decent start and I want to get praise for my awesome start to my 2021 year, but I also want to talk about some things on the sheet which I have.

By the way, my vision traction organizer is right up here on my cork board so I’ll be pulling that down tonight, but there are some areas of that that are blank. Along with saying, “One of the things I want to do this year is a podcast”, I’ve already done four so I need to change that. I need to reset that expectation, I didn’t do a realistic job back in November when we did strategic planning but I also need to say to him, “I said I would do quarterly strategic meetings with my former clients and I haven’t scheduled any of those yet and we’re at the end of January. I need a strategy or I need you to hold me accountable to doing X number in the next two weeks.” I believe I can hold myself accountable, I like having G.B. around because it’s not just as an accountability partner but someone I can bounce ideas off of. I think more importantly than accountability partner is someone that you can go to and say, “I’m struggling in this area” and they’re going to provide you with one or two really valuable tips that can help you.

Fred Diamond: GV. is going to be on a future Optimal Sales Mindset show and he’s obviously watching today, he says that you can buy dinner tonight, FYI.

Kristie Jones: [Laughs] he’s so sweet, isn’t he?

Fred Diamond: He’s very sweet, asking you to buy dinner, I don’t know how sweet that is but nonetheless. Anyway, we talked today on the Sales Game Changers podcast, the Creativity in Sales webinar, I want to thank everybody for chiming in. Kristie, before I ask you for your final action step and your final thought for what people should do right now, I just want to acknowledge you. A number of the people we’ve had on the Creativity in Sales webinar, peers of yours, authors, sales speakers, thought leaders have said, “Fred, you’ve got to get Kristie on the show, she has a really interesting angle.” We did a lot of research, talked to some people who have worked with you and I just want to acknowledge that you’ve helped if not tens of thousands of sales professionals, leaders and business owners take their careers and their businesses to the next level. You may not realize how many lives and how many businesspeople you’ve affected, but I want to just acknowledge you for all the great work you’ve done to help people take their business, their sales career and if those things are going well, then their lives are going well as well. Give us an action step, give us something that people need to do right now to take their sales career to the next level.

Kristie Jones: Thank you so much for that, I appreciate that. People love to hear good things and that other people are saying good things so I do appreciate hearing that, thank you.

I would say expectations, expectations, expectations. Have those conversations, have them with your prospects before the first discovery call, have them with your brand new employees, expectations for onboarding and new employees in the first 90 days are going to be different than they are at day 120. You’re going to have to set different expectations, “Here’s my onboarding expectation for you, here’s what I expect you to be learning in the next 30, 60, 90 days and here’s what I’m going to expect from you going forward as you become a regular sales rep.” It’s everything, it’s friends and family. The reason why people are disappointed a lot of times is because you haven’t told them what you need or want from them, so start practicing today. What do I want from you that I’m not getting? Practice having that conversation. I was talking to somebody else the other day and somebody said, “Holding people accountable sounds really hard and awkward” and I said, “Not holding people accountable is worse.”

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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