Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Is Motivating Salespeople What It Takes To Drive Sales Results?

Tags: close more sales, motivating salespeople, getting consistent sales performance, effective sales management

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I have done many workshops over the years and, normally, in the very beginning, I ask:  What is it that you want to leave here with that would make this a great investment of your time?  One of the top 3 answers in every situation is the question:  How do I motivate or keep my sales team motivated? (Dan Pink – Ted Talk on Motivation – a great 18 minute investment!)

IT HAS TO START INSIDE

My response 100% of the time is this: “You cannot motivate your sales team.  All you can do is recruit motivated people or create an environment where they motivate themselves.”  I then share with them what I heard Mark Victor Hansen say many years ago at the Cincinnati Life Underwriters Annual Meeting: “Motivation is an inside-out job.”  In other words, it’s something that has to start inside of someone; you cannot motivate them from the outside.  I believed that then and I still believe it now.

IT HAS TO BE THERE FROM THE BEGINNING

As some of you know or may recall, I grew up on a blueberry farm in the blueberry capital of the world, Hammonton, NJ.  My dad, Ray, was the foreman on the farm.  I’m sure that if dad hadn’t been a foreman, he would have been a drill sergeant.  Does that give you a picture of the type of guy my dad was?  Dad was a no B.S. ”you want to make more money then work more hours, when all else fails hard work works” kind of guy.

You may also recall that I graduated from the University of Connecticut where I played varsity football on a full scholarship.  Working towards earning my scholarship didn’t start when I entered high school in the 9th grade.  It didn’t start my junior year when I earned the starting position of center.  It didn’t start when I was named co-captain along with Patrick Gazzara my senior year.  No, I started earning the scholarship when I was 9 years old.

That summer of 1963 was uneventful until I made the comment to my dad that I’d like to play football.  He asked me why? I said, “It looks like fun.”  He asked, “Are you sure?” and, without hesitation, I replied, “Sure.”  He pressed on saying, “It’s going to be hard.”  I said, “Okay.”  Finally, he said, “I’ll get you the name of the coach, Matt Gazzara (not related to Patrick). You call him and tell him you want to play.”  I said okay.

[Jumping ahead to the end of my first practice] I came off the field and dad asked me, “What did you think?”  I said, “I loved it - I'm going to go to college someday and play football!”  He asked me, “Are you sure?” He went on to tell me that college football players are in great shape, so I would have to work hard to be in great shape.  I said, “Okay.” 

I took off my helmet. He helped me take off my practice jersey and shoulder pads and then said, “Start running laps around the field.”  I asked, “How many?” He just said, “I’ll tell you when to stop.”

I stopped 13 years later when I finished my career on the field of Holy Cross where we had just lost the game 40 to 41.  I cried like a baby because I knew I’d never again played the game that I loved so much.

That is internal motivation.  I didn’t know about scholarships when I was 9.  I hadn’t thought about the education I would get.  I had no idea that I’d get a chance to fly on an airplane for the first time when I was 18.  I didn’t know I’d get to travel along the Middle Atlantic and New England region visiting places like Bangor, Maine and The Military Academy in Annapolis.  All I knew was I wanted to play football and I was willing to do everything possible to succeed.

DOES YOUR TEAM HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?

  • Do you have that?
  • Do you have people – salespeople - on your team that have that?
  • When you think about all the things you’ve tried to motivate people, has anything REALLY had a long-term impact on changing behavior, improving skills or significantly moving the results needle?
  • When you look at performance, how many people do you have that are just “plug and play” - the few you know you can count on day in and day out to do the things they need to do and you know they will perform?
  • When you look at those that don’t perform, how fatigued are you just thinking about the effort you have to put in just to get them to come to meetings on time, use your CRM, and do the activity to get the results?

IS IT EXTERNAL OR INTERNAL?

What we have learned over the last several years by assessing sales organizations using the Objective Management Group Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis is that motivation has changed. There was a time when salespeople were primarily externally motivated, but now there is data that tells us the primary motivation of salespeople is internal!  Let me show you: 

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Table 1

This table represents the top ten performers in a recent assessment of 100 sales people in the financial services/banking industry.  These findings are consistent with all assessments done in this space over the last 3 years.  By the numbers:

  • 8 of 10 are motivated by winning
  • 9 of ten are motivated by self-rewarding performance
  • All ten succeed and are motivated when self-pressure is applied
  • 9 of the 10 successfully self-manage
  • Competition against themselves or others is evenly split 50/50
  • Self-satisfaction motivation has a slight edge 60/40

NOW, here are the bottom 10 findings: 

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Table 2

SO, IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS...

So, after looking at the evidence, let's go back to our original question – Is motivating salespeople what it really takes to drive sales results?

NOPE!

Additional Resources:
How do I get this information for my sales team? LINK

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Sales Managers, Start with the End in Mind

Tags: success formula, sales management, motivating salespeople

In his ground breaking book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey states that highly successful people start with where they want to be – “the end” - and then work to get there. That’s great advice for managers attempting to lead for results, manage activity and coach behaviors.

In a Sales Managed Environment®, a sales manager - in order to get the most out of their team - must execute two critical functions:

  • Performance management
  • Coaching

Both of these are contingent on knowing where your individual salespeople want to end up. What is it that is important to them? What is their motivation to do what they have to do to succeed in selling? Knowing that information and using that information to build a solid sales success plan is critical. In addition, gaining personal commitment to achieve personal goals is the only way to improve the probability of professional sales success.

I recall having a discussion with a COO of a large insurance holding company. He was about to address one of the agencies the following day and, as we were eating dinner, he was sharing with me his message. Most of the message was about the company growth and the importance of shareholder value. As gently as I could, I reminded him that the group he was addressing the next day didn't really care about shareholder value. They were more interested in making college payments, getting out of debt and building the cabin on the lake.

And so it is with your salespeople. Unfortunately, you can count on at least 75% of your people failing in the area of setting goals and having a solid goal achievement plan.


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The information in this chart comes from the Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis produced by Objective Management Group – the world leader in sales team evaluations. In a group of 50 salespeople, you can see that 77% of them do not have written goals or a goal management plan.

What does this have to do with a sales manager and starting with the end in mind, you ask? Everything.

  • The people that you have today who are performing in the middle of the bell curve or the wrong end of the 80/20 power curve:  Did you hire them that way or make them that way?
  • Those salespeople who seem to have gotten stuck at a certain level of performance - could it be that they just stopped thinking bigger or are comfortable?
  • Why is it a struggle to keep your sales team motivated?
  • With changes in comp plans and implementation of incentives, why isn’t there more movement toward improvement in results?
  • Why do you find yourself always talking about the same people who don’t seem to be “lifting their weight”?

All of these questions are tied to motivation or the lack of motivation. And that starts with management. If you don’t hire motivated people, you cannot make them that way. And… even the most motivated people need a “shot in the arm” once in a while. Starting with the end in mind, your job/task/responsibility is to create an environment where your people have the opportunity to dream the big dream and have a plan of achievement.

So, start today with these resources: