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Motivating Sales People: What Does it Take?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Dec 07, 2018

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Frequently I am asked the following question: “How do I keep my salespeople motivated to sell?”

My response 100% of the time is: “You cannot motivate your salespeople. You can only recruit and hire motivated salespeople and create an environment in which they motivate themselves.”

Many years ago, I saw Mark Victor Hansen at a Cincinnati Life Underwriters Annual Meeting. During his presentation he said, “Motivation is an inside-out job”. In other words, motivation comes from within a person. We cannot motivate someone from the outside. I believed this then and I believe it more now.

As some of you know, I grew up on a blueberry farm in New Jersey. My dad, Ray, was the foreman of the farm and if he hadn’t been a foreman, he would have been a drill sergeant. Does that give you a picture of the type of guy he was? Dad was a “no-excuses”, get-it-done, “if you want to make more money, work harder and longer” kind of guy. He didn’t just teach his kids this discipline. He lived it.

I benefited genetically, environmentally and in countless ways from him. No doubt, his leadership and encouragement enabled me to attend and graduate from the University of Connecticut where I played varsity football on full scholarship. Earning this scholarship did not start when I entered high school. It didn’t start when I made starting center position my junior year. It didn’t start when I was named co-captain my senior year. It started when I was born with Dad’s DNA and a nurturing but disciplined environment that cultivated a relentless desire and commitment to succeed.

This commitment to succeed was present early on, when I worked alongside grown men, performing the same job, at the age of 10. It was probably evident long before then when I refused to be less than the winner of any game I played with my older and bigger brother. And the commitment to succeed was certainly present when I told my dad that I wanted to play football at the age of 9.

When he asked “Why?”, I replied that it looked like fun. When he asked me if I was sure and reminded me that if I committed, I must always give it my best effort, I was sure. He told me it would be hard and, that while he would get the name and number, it was up to me to call and tell Coach Gazzara I wanted to play.

My dad met me as I came off the field after my first practice and asked me what I thought, to which I replied, “I loved it. I’m going to college someday so I can play football!” Once again he asked me if I was sure and told me that college football players work hard to stay in great condition and that I would have to do the same. I said “okay.”

He helped me remove my practice jersey and shoulder pads and then told me to start running laps around the field. When I asked, “How many?”, he said “I’ll tell you when to stop.”

Fast forward 13 years to the afternoon I played and lost my final college football game against Holy Cross. Oh, was I sad. I cried like a baby because I knew I’d never again play this game that I loved and that had led me to a college degree, the unique and fulfilling camaraderie of team work and experiences far beyond the reach of a poor and uneducated farm boy.

Of course, since then I have found other different, age and life appropriate, “games” at which to succeed. My personal history is an example of internal motivation. I didn’t know about scholarships. I had not thought about a college education. I had no idea that I would fly on an airplane for the first time when I was 18 years old. I might never have gotten to travel, to visit Bangor, Maine or The Military Academy in Annapolis. My motivation was to play football and I was willing to do everything possible to do this and do it well.

  • Do you have an internal desire and commitment?
  • Do you have salespeople on your team who have these necessary traits?
  • Have your motivational techniques and incentives had any long-term impact on changing behavior, improving skills or moving the sales-results needle?
  • How many salespeople do you have who will do the things they need to do? How many will perform as necessary?

Through the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis (SEIA), we have learned that motivation is as much internal as it is external. There was a time when we thought that salespeople were externally motivated (money, recognition, etc.) but now the data that tells us that as often, the motivation of sales people is internal (satisfaction). This means that we must find those who have the drive, those who have the desire and who have the willingness to do whatever it takes. 

Topics: sales motivation, motivating sales people, Motivating, building sales team, sales advice

Motivating Salespeople Involves Knowing Them

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Aug 11, 2017

How well can you relate to the following situations: producers not meeting sales expectations, there aren't enough opportunities in the pipeline, too few of the people are carrying the sales production load for the entire team? In almost every sales organization, these three situations exist no matter how many sales meetings are held, what CRM system is used or how closely the sales team is managed- these problems persist.

Now, why does this happen? Is it because your salespeople aren’t armed with the right tools to go out, find and close business? Nope. Maybe it’s because they don’t have the required skills? Possibly yes. Maybe they just don’t care about their own success? Or maybe it's because YOU don't care enough about their success.

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That seems harsh, I know, but let me explain. According to an article "You Can't Lead People You Don't Know, written by Jim Bouchard, creator of Black Belt Mindset Productions, less than half of the leaders they work with report knowing the people who report to them. They obviously know the role that they play and the features of their job, but they admit to not knowing them on a personal level. So, my question is this: how can you expect to motivate someone to meet sales expectations, generate opportunities and produce results when you don’t know them? You don’t know what drives them, what gets them out of bed in the morning. Your salespeople don’t care about shareholder value and year over year growth of the division or the department. They care about their kids in school, paying off college debt, building a deck on the back of the house, saving for the wedding, the vacation home and the retirement years. That is their sales motivation. 

Our partners at Objective Management Group believe that there are three ways people are motivated- altruistically, intrinsically and extrinsically. Salespeople who have altruistic motivation are those who care more about the success and well-being of those around them. They are more relationship focused and they thrive off of doing great work for the benefit of others. Intrinsically motivated salespeople find motivation in the praise that they receive for a job well-done. And those that are extrinsically motivated are considered the “original salesperson”- they’re motivated by making money. The point is you obviously need to know your salespeople personally in order to understand what motivates them to succeed.

So, what do you do now?

First, watch this short video featuring Tony Cole on the importance of motivation and personal goals. Next, create an environment where your salespeople believe their dreams can come true. You foster the ability to pursue those things that are near and dear to their heart. You create a recognition program (or incentive process) that recognizes the things that are important to them. You find a way to mesh what they want, with want you want (more sales) and what is required in their role. Motivating your salespeople is crucial for the success of your organization, so go out and meet your team. Learn what is important to them. Discover what drives them so you know how to drive their success.

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Topics: sales motivation, motivating sales people

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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