Is it the sales rep, the sales manager, the VP, the CEO…what about sales training or product management? I asked this question at a client meeting. They were taken aback by my candor, but after a few uncomfortable moments, they began to reflect. There was a pretty good chain-of-command represented so as you might expect the CEO turned to the VP Sales and said “I guess that would be you”. The VP Sales said “yes, but… it depends on the success of my managers” and then the managers passed it down to the field reps because after all they were ultimately accountable to meet their plans and quotas. So the sales rep is accountable to make the plan.

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I then asked the group who is responsible to make sure the sales reps are well trained. The answer to this question came quickly… we have a sales training department and the sales manager plays a role. So let me see if I understand this; the sales rep that is 100% accountable to make the plan is not accountable for their own training?

So it begs the question, how can a sales rep be responsible to do the job, but not accountable for their own training?  That’s like a professional athlete not taking the time or initiative to practice and train to excel in their job. In fact, sales is the only job I know of where the rep is not held accountable to be well trained on sales skills or product knowledge.

Organizations will continue to fail if they can’t align the accountability of training to those who have the most to lose if they don’t make their plans.  After all, who get fired when the revenue plan is missed?

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