Motivating salespeople is not achieved through some mystical “pump up” system. Instead it involves helping your salespeople see in the present, a projection of the future they want, with the opportunity to act on a plan for its achievement.
Salespeople Sell for their Own Reasons, Not Yours
Salespeople sell for their own reasons, not yours and not the company’s. When managing salespeople, you must help them achieve their personal goals in a way that enables the company to achieve its goals too. You cannot manage salespeople effectively if you don’t know why they show up each day. Moreover, you cannot manage salespeople solely as a group. You must manage salespeople one at a time.
Your job in motivating your salespeople to higher performance is not unlike the job of selling prospects on the need to take action. Your prospect’s sense of urgency and willingness to move forward in a selling situation is contingent on the kind of pain you uncover. The same is true when motivating your salespeople. You need to uncover their “pain” as it relates to their sales performance. What problem will their improved performance solve for them or what opportunity will it help them capture? Sometimes the money they will earn is a major factor, and at other times it could be something completely different.
Salespeople Are Motivated By More than Money
We often assume that salespeople are only motivated by money, but they can be motivated by a variety of things:
- Autonomy – Being left free to run, based on a clear understanding of the ground rules. Some need freedom and autonomy to achieve their best results.
- Periodic contests – For those that need continuous challenge and the opportunity to be “king of the mountain.”
- Impressive titles – As long as both freedom and responsibility fit the title.
- Increasing responsibility.
- Leadership opportunities.
- Recognition – Awards, mention in the company newsletter or intranet, extra time spent with the manager.
Assessments can be helpful in ascertaining which of these factors will have the greatest impact. Changing the corporate culture to encourage the setting and sharing of personal goals will go even farther. While this may sound easy, there are many companies whose culture inhibits people from sharing their goals. The most important aspect of motivating a salesperson is your relationship with them and their willingness to share their desires, challenges and opportunities.
Learn What Motivates the Individuals that Work for You
Unfortunately, the salespeople that work for you often don’t know themselves what motivates them. They are simply going through the motions on a daily basis trying to meet their numbers without any meaningful goals. Just as salespeople help prospects discover their pain, it is often up to you, as their manager, to help your salespeople discover their dreams, goals and motivators.
In order to ascertain what motivates your salespeople, you have to be non-judgmental, open-minded and genuinely caring. This is often easier said than done. The problems you face when doing this are conceptual (psychological barriers that prevent you from doing it) as often as they are technical (not knowing how to do it).
Here are the conceptual reasons we often avoid finding out what motivates salespeople:
- You believe it’s none of your business.
- You’re afraid of what you might find and that it will become your problem and you will have to deal with it.
- You don’t like a particular salesperson or don’t want to get to know him.
- You fear that it’s too big a project.
- You are afraid that you will wind up in the role of psychiatrist.
- You don’t have enough time.
- Your plate is full of other distractions.
On the other hand, salespeople are often reluctant to share their true goals and motivations for working. Here’s why:
- They don’t know their vision.
- It’s too personal or they feel they may be embarrassed.
- They don’t think you care.
- They don’t trust you.
- They may think it’s none of your business.
- They are afraid of being held accountable.
- They don’t want help.
- They believe you have an ulterior motive.
With this knowledge in mind, you can lay these issues on the table and begin a dialogue with your salespeople about what motivates them. Once you have laid bare the obstacles and agreed to talk openly and honestly, these are the questions you want to ask your salespeople:
- What would you do if you were financially independent?
- What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
- What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
- In order for you to accomplish your goals, what has to happen?
- What’s going to motivate you?
- Why that?
- What happens if you don’t get it?
- So what?
You need to use every sales tool you have to uncover your salespeople’s pain. Their pain consists of the problems they face or the opportunities they seek that meeting their sales goals will alleviate or capture. You have to show them how to invest their time and energy to overcome these challenges or capture their dream.