The Importance of Taking Ownership

If you were to ask me to explain in one word what the biggest difference is between a mediocre sales rep and a top producer, I think that word would be ownership.

What are the biggest complaints that you hear from sales management today?

"My reps don't work hard..."
"We're not getting the results we need..."
"They all make excuses..."

All of these complaints signify a lack of ownership being taken by the sales rep. When you own your position and your role, you work as hard as you need to get the job done, and deliver the necessary results. If those results can't be delivered, there is no room (and no time) for excuses. While it is necessary to understand why, those postmortems are put in place so that the same mistakes are not made again, not as an opportunity to complain and lament where you fell short.

By the way, if you're a sales manager with the aforementioned complaints, have you asked yourself why your reps aren't doing what is necessary to get their job done? Their ownership stake is often a direct reflection of yours. 

Taking responsibility like this is not about being a workaholic or micromanager. It's about identifying and understanding what needs to be done, empowering others to do the work they're entrusted to do, and owning the outcome regardless of whether it's good or bad. Then you analyze the results, learn new lessons, improve, and deliver.

Taking ownership means:

  • understanding what needs to be done, not just what you need to do 

  • being disciplined about your process and trusting it, not looking for another silver bullet 

  • knowing the roles, responsibilities, and impacts other departments have in that process, not trying to sell in a vacuum  

  • taking full responsibility for your results, regardless of the outcome, not just taking credit for the wins and blaming others for the losses 

  • doing your best work, and understanding how to make it better, not doing just enough to make it look like you did your job 

  • taking action toward making your best work better, and becoming an expert in your industry, not just being a bit player in the big picture. 

    Great sales reps take ownership. Great sales managers take ownership. Do you? I hope so. It's not easy, but the principles behind it are very simple, and anybody can take ownership of any job or any position they're put in if they want to. When that happens, the results are staggering.

    Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin is a great book on the topic. It's one of those books that uses real-world situations to illustrate simple universal principles. It’s the kind of book that you want every person on your team to read because it establishes a kind of baseline for the way an organization should work.