What you are willing to be accountable for is a large part of how your client perceives you and the value you create. If you want to be considered something more than a vendor or supplier, increasing your accountability will move you up levels.
Let’s say you want to be accountable for sharing products and their features and benefits. While product knowledge is important, being accountable for taking orders is such a low level of value that your clients are always going to be open to meeting with people who can create greater value for them. This low level of value now competes with the internet, which provides information and order-taking capabilities without any friction.
Maybe you can do better. Maybe you really take care of your clients, holding yourself accountable for making sure things are just right. When they have a problem, you are Johnny or Janie on the spot, dealing with service and support issues. Even though your title suggests that you are a salesperson, your behavior indicates that you are really something is more accurately described as “glorified customer service rep.” You are going to have nice, but very limited relationships here, but not ones that allow you to hold a better position than customer service rep.
Being accountable for solving bona fide business problems and challenges is a much better space to occupy. You have the ability to diagnose your client’s issues, make recommendations, and improve their results. This is a much higher level of accountability, and one that will move you up a level in your client’s eyes, knowing that you can help when there is an identified challenge or opportunity. While this good, it isn’t the very best space for you to occupy as it pertains to your accountability.
What you want to be accountable for is the client’s strategic decision as it pertains to the areas where your business insects with theirs. You want to be the accountable for having a clear vision of the future decisions they need to make, as well as providing direction before there is a challenge to respond to at all. To do this, you need business acumen and situational knowledge. You also need to look like a peer, someone who could easily be a part of your client’s management team. This level of accountability differentiates from all the lower levels.
The more you increase your level of responsibility, the more you are accountable for in the way of results, and the more valuable you are to your client.