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Is Motivating Salespeople What It Takes To Drive Sales Results?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Apr 28, 2017

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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

DOWNLOAD FREE eBook -  How to Hire Advisors Who Will Sell More

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

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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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