Who’s Responsible for Sales?

Your first response might be to say that salespeople are responsible.  You might say the sales manager.  Or, you might point out that everyone in the company is responsible for sales.

Everyone could be the right answer. We expect everyone in an organization to be a positive advocate for the company.  Whenever you meet someone in the public, you represent your company, leaving either a good or bad impression.

An example of bad was reported just a few months ago. As if RIM (Research In Motion) needed any more trouble, the media broke a story about two of their executives who got so drunk on an international flight that the pilot took the next opportunity to land and ejected them from the plane. While they were not in sales roles and their company had nothing to do with it, it reflected badly on RIM.

The sales manager could also be the right answer. Although the sales manager is not making the sales, he or she is responsible for recruiting and hiring the right salespeople, training, supervising, and managing for results.

Of course the salesperson is responsible for sales. That’s their job. Make sales.

But who is accountable when results don’t meet expectations? Who has the authority to fix it?

Who has the authority to:

  • Spend marketing dollars?
  • Expand territories?
  • Develop budgets and strategic plans?
  • Create an end-to-end sales and marketing campaign?
  • Develop brochures?
  • Develop new product lines or services?
  • Manage the website?
  • Follow-up leads from the website?
  • Research prospects on LinkedIn or Facebook?
  • Schedule appointments with prospects or customers?
  • Meet with customers?
  • Develop proposals?
  • Close deals?

All these factors contribute to sales. However, recently both the line between sales and marketing, and our understanding of who is responsible for the final outcome have blurred.

Try this exercise to clarify responsibility and accountability in your organization:

  • Call a meeting with key players and identify all the factors that contribute to sales.
  • Ask each participant to put their name beside the factors they understand are their responsibility.
  • Identify those items that overlap or require different individuals to work directly together.
  • Identify who is responsible for those items that have not yet been assigned to anyone.
  • Now determine what authority level each person needs to get their job done. How much money can they spend before getting approval? What other resources can they tap into to produce better results? With whom do they need to review their plans?

Once responsibilities are clear it is much easier to determine who is accountable for the end result – good or bad.


September 3, 2012

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