Let's face it, one of the main reasons that you chose a career in sales, aside from the relatively high income potential, is the autonomy and independence that a sales job provides. Being in sales is the closest you can get to running your own business without actually being a business owner; from generating sales leads, to meeting with clients and closing sales, to budgeting, to time management, to business meetings, and to traveling. But, in the end, it still isn't your own business even if it feels like it. You still are an employee of a company and you still have a boss your sales manager.
Your sales manager wants you to be accountable because in the end, if you don't make your numbers (quota), he himself will be accountable to his boss. So, how do you keep the autonomy that you desire without having to answer to the boss? Easy. You must meet and then exceed your numbers at all times. If you do this your sales manager will have no reason to watch over you and it will truly be the rewarding job that you seek.
According to Brian Cole Miller, author of the book "Keeping Employees Accountable For Results: Quick Tips For Busy Managers," there are six SIMPLE principles of accountability that he teaches sales managers of which you, as a sales professional, must understand so that you know what your boss is looking for from you. Knowing these principles will allow you to do your job in such a way as to have your keep your autonomy (If you wanted your boss to be constantly looking over your shoulder at all times of the day you would have chosen a customer service job in a call center!). Here are Mr. Miller's six SIMPLE principles.
S - Set Expectations Your sales manager wants to communicate what is expected of you. You're a smart person. You know what your company's expectations of you are. You don't need someone telling you what the expectations are. Your goal should be to set your own personal expectations above what the company expects of you. No sales manager will see the need to discuss expectations with you if you are already self-motivated.
I - Invite Commitment Mr. Miller advocates that sales managers should show their employees how a commitment to achieving goals will benefit these employees personally. Do you know what happens when you are in sales and you commit to working hard? You make more money. Do you need your sales manager to tell you this? No. Be committed, work hard, and you get more commission. No need to hear a lecture on this from your sales manager.
M - Measure Results Sales managers must measure their employees' results and compare them to their goals to find gaps that require further attention. Now think back to your personal expectations (which exceed the company's expectations) and to your commitment to working hard; this will bring in more sales, more commission for you, and more revenue for the company. When this happens, there will be no gaps that require further attention, meaning your sales manager will have no reason to question you.
P Provide Feedback Mr. Miller states that "your employees cannot do a good job without feedback, and they certainly can't improve without it." You don't want your sales manager to think that you cannot do your job without him constantly guiding you, do you? Of course not, this is childish. Show him that you can do your job and improve without guidance and he will not have the need to direct you.
L Link To Consequences Consequences guide behavior and can get employees back on track. Do you want your sales manager to tell you that if you don't reach your target he will, for example, require an extra 10 cold calls a day the following month? Of course not; your sales manager is not Frederic Skinner and you are not a lab rat. You don't need to be "punished" because you do your job and you do it well.
E Evaluate Effectiveness Sales managers must hold themselves accountable for holding others accountable. What happens when you are accountable? It makes your sales manager accountable. So if you reach and exceed your targets you will be doing a great job, your sales manager will be accountable, he will not need to "deal" with you, and you will have the autonomy and independence that you have always wanted from your job.