I started using #ownyourownshit about 5 or 6 years ago when I was in an environment where there were a lot of excuses flying around. The reality was, those individuals, the ones with all the excuses, could have controlled a lot more than they were taking responsibility for.
The majority of complaints I hear from sales reps revolve around things that they can control and either choose not to, don't know they need to, or don’t know how. Not knowing what the right thing to do is doesn’t absolve you from owning your own shit. If you are unsure of what the right thing to do is… ask someone who does know. When you choose not to take control of the things you can control and then outcomes don’t happen the way you want…..well #ownyourownshit.
Own Your Success
Which part of your success do you want to own? You can't control 100% of anything, but what percentage of your success or failure are you willing to fall on the sword and own? What are you willing to admit you could have done differently?
They say you can work harder or smarter. What if you did both? What if you dedicated 5 hours a week to your personal and professional development AND outworked your friends, teammates, and competitors? What would your life look like? Can you picture it?
Owning your own shit means not blaming your territory, the marketing team, your BDR, or the prospect for missing quota. You can only control your own behavior, but that’s enough. Your behavior, your work ethic, and your desire to win will out way the things you can’t control.
Let me give you some examples of other areas that I don’t believe sales reps are owning.
Own Your Pipeline
Hearing the excuses from Reps when they miss quota is my favorite #ownyourownshit situation.
When you’ve missed quota there is a 90% chance or better that it’s because you didn’t have enough deals or the right deals in your pipeline to hit your quota. It wasn't even as if it was even statistically possible for you to hit your quota this quarter. The pipeline fairy doesn’t exist and if she did it’s unlikely, she’d leave a deal under your pillow if you didn’t do the work yourself to get it there.
I get very honest with people and ask them if they understand the fact that they didn’t even have a chance to hit their quota because there weren’t enough deals in the pipeline. Then they tell me that inbound leads were down or their BDR didn't set enough appointments for them. It’s at this point that I tell them the ugly truth, you needed to have helped yourself.
We sales reps LOVE to blame marketing. It’s so funny how Marketing is NEVER doing their job and we sales reps are ALWAYS doing ours.
I had a conversation with a rep at the beginning of January. She’d had a really great 4th quarter but that meant that she had an anemic pipeline on January 2nd. As I say often, no matter if it’s closed/won or closed/lost it is CLOSED and you can no longer sell it.
So, I said to her, ``Good news”, you have a lot of time on your hands because you don't have any deals to work. Bad news is you’re going to need to spend that time prospecting. #helpyourself. Sure, she has a BDR that will help her, but she can’t increase his appointment quota to 30 appointments a month when he’s only capable of setting 15 a month.
I feel strongly that a certain percentage of the pipeline should be self-sourced by Account Executives. These deals close faster, and they close at a higher rate.
This is my favorite interview question, “Tell me about the last time you missed quota and what were the circumstances surrounding it?” If the candidate is willing to be held accountable, I’ll hear this, “It's my fault, I relied on one big deal to close and it didn’t.” I’m looking for candidates who are going to be willing to fall on the sword and own their own shit around activity and quota. If you have a 20% close rate and everything hangs on one that that one deal, you're at the mercy of that one deal. If you're sourcing your own pipeline and managing your pipeline, then you’ll never be at anyone’s mercy.
Owning the Sales Cycle
I often hear from reps that the prospect is ghosting them or gone under, as I call it. The fact of the matter is you know if you don't set up a firm next action and appointment that you’re running the risk of them disappearing on you. Well, who's fault is that really? That’s your fault.
So, it’s not just about taking ownership for what you do know, it's also taking ownership for what you don't know and understanding it’s your responsibility for gaining that knowledge.
I had a client, when I was the Fractional Sales Leader, who had a brand new 18-year-old BDR. At the beginning of the year, I sat down with him to have an expectation meeting and layed out what my expectations of him were going to be for the next 90 days.
I said to him, “As a result of you not knowing most things, my expectation is that you will ask me questions until you think you’re irritating me. Please don't guess. Please don't make an assumption. If you’re unsure, you need to ask, because you don't know what you don't know yet. Go ahead and ask a question even if you think it’s dumb. It doesn't matter. You don't know the correct answer, so ask. I also expect that you retain the answer so that you only have to ask it one time”
Own your Professional Development
Another area reps need to own is taking responsibility for your own professional development. When I talk to candidates and ask them to tell me about formal sales training they’ve had and they say I haven't had any, my very next question is, “So, tell me what you've done to educate yourself if your company hasn't done that for you.”
What books are you reading? What podcasts are you listening to? Who are you following? What have you done for yourself? I'll be honest, I don't hire very many candidates who don't take responsibility for their own professional development.
So, #ownyourownstrengths. You have strengths and it’s up to you to improve them just as much as you have to own your own shit when you screw up.
Own your Mind Set
Sales is a rejection-filled sport. If you don’t understand the connection between the mind and your success, you’re probably struggling on a daily basis.
What are you doing every day to stay positive? Do you understand the role gratitude plays in success? What are you doing every day to stay physically strong and mentally tough? What’s your self-talk like? How about visualizing the life you want and the success you’ll have?
Own your Financial Freedom
Sales is a profession that can allow you financial freedom. Not all jobs allow you to control your income the way the sales profession does. Being a professional seller can give you an opportunity to set your own income and have a different life than the one you have today.
I’m not saying that just by going out and taking a sales job you’re going to double your income and be able to buy a private island. I am saying that unlike other jobs that have an income cap, you can control your income in a way those around you might not be able to.
As we head towards Q4, now is the time to review the above areas of your life and career and understand which areas are you taking responsibility for and which areas there are a lot of excuses and blame being thrown around.