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Activate your sales team

It’s an endless cycle of trying to get more from each person on your team, isn’t it? You can’t take a break from the sales push because of the demands and expectations from your board, stakeholders, team and maybe even your spouse! So what can you do to activate your team to sell more?

Activate them! Here are three easy A’s to activation:


Managers will say their job is to keep everyone accountable. Yet research from the Objective Management Group clearly shows sales managers are not effective in creating a culture of accountability. They are very accepting of excuse making and finger pointing.

Accountability means your reps take ownership for their results (and so do you). Do your reps own their level of activity, their outcomes and their behaviors? Or do they make statements like:

  1. He said he was going to give me an answer last week and hasn’t yet.
  2. They told me they were making a decision and would let me know.
  3. She won’t introduce me to the real decision maker.

Can you see how these are all excuses that don’t show ownership of their actions? The elite salespeople take responsibility for their results and don’t make excuses compared to 20 percent of the bottom performers

What does taking responsibility and accepting ownership and accountability sound like?

  1. I didn’t get the answer last week and need to get on the phone with them.
  2. I didn’t secure the next specific call time to discuss their decision.
  3. I haven’t yet uncovered how to get to the decision maker.

Do you see how much easier it is to identify the next action they should take and get a commitment of when and where they will take that action?

What can you do?

If you need to increase personal accountability among your team:

  1. Review your role. It starts with you. What is your response when you hear an excuse? Do you accept it or ask for more information to drive an action?
  2. When you hear an excuse, redirect the rep. “What can you do to move that forward?” “What’s one step you will take to get the answer you need? “What else can you do?”
  3. Set clear expectations – specifics with timelines, behavior and outcome.
  4. Share how you will measure what you expect.


It’s not sexy, ground breaking or plugged into an outlet. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore this basic sales generator … action.  Most teams do not need more technology or tools. What they need it to ACT; to make their calls; follow-up; and follow-though to stop getting stuck in the rut of chase, procrastination and analysis paralysis

This is where leading and lagging indicators for measurement become such an important piece to consider. Janice Mars wrote a great article here so I won’t repeat. Too often we measure, focus and reward for the sale in a transaction- orientated sales process that works. In most sales processes though, the sale is the outcome of all the important activities that precede it. And if you have more than a two-step process, you need to measure those activities and advances through your pipeline for accurate forecasting.

What can you  do? 

  • Review your sales process and identify the key activities that indicate the reps are keeping a full and active pipeline. What activities can you easily measure and report?
  • Share the data. Ask your reps about the activity level…what gets in the way of more? When they have good activity levels, let them know you noticed. As soon as you begin to pay attention to the activities that lead to the sale … activity levels will increase.


Your attention and energy is pulled in so many directions that it’s easy to stop making the time to focus on your individual reps. Finding the time to give attention to the people on your team is often a challenge. It’s like the cobbler whose children have no shoes. After all, XX is a top performer, she’ll come to you if she really needs something, right?

Stop that train of thought to nowhere. Your team needs as much attention as your customers and prospects… maybe even more.

What can you do?

  • Identify how much time and attention you give each person.
  • Add 15 minutes per person per week. Yes, 15 minutes per person a week that is focused on them, their challenges, their goals, and their accounts. Focus your attention on them and what’s in it for them; not your agenda, new policies, etc. It matters.

There you have it: Easy-peasy actions for you to activate your team to sell more. It starts with increasing activity levels, accountability and engagement.

Their engagement increase in activity will send your sales soaring quicker than any new piece of software.

Nancy Bleeke (pronounced Blakey) has spent years in the trenches as a Sales Professional, Sales Manager and Sales Coach. She is the winner of the Top Sales World Magazine’s 2013 Gold Medal Book Award for Conversations That Sell, declared a “must-read” for sales teams around the world. Her firm, Sales Pro Insider, works with tired business owners, dissatisfied sales leaders and sales reps who want to grow their sales. Using process improvements, training, coaching and sometimes a big reality check to identify how to quickly and wisely increase sales results. Visit

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About Nancy Bleeke

Nancy Bleeke, President of Sales Pro Insider, Inc., and author of Conversations That Sell, a must-read for sales teams around the world, is known as someone who gets things done. She is driven by a battle cry that companies need to systematically make their conversations count-with customers, prospects, and team members. When the right people have the right conversations, companies thrive. Her focus since 1998 is equipping companies to grow sales, customer loyalties, and employee engagement with training, consulting, assessments, and tools that stick.

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