Selling is a funny job. It seems to require an unusual amount of motivation for one to perform consistently at a high level.
I’m not sure why this is. Does accounting require a high level of motivation to do it well? How about Human Resources? I don’t know – I’ve not done either of those jobs. I do know I can name many motivational sales speakers, but no accounting motivational speakers come to mind [if you know of any, please let me know!].
Maybe it’s the self-starting nature sales. Many of us work from home offices or are on the road flying solo, tasked with bringing home the bacon. One needs to be organized and active, efficient and effective and at the end of the month reach your sales quota.
With little [or more often no] supervision, sales people must find opportunities, sift out the bad ones and then close the good ones.
In most job roles the work is brought to you. In sales you have to go find it. Anyone who has opened a new territory or struck out on their own know this challenge well.
At any rate, I get asked so often how to motivate sales people I thought I’d address it here. Over 14 years and across 22 different industries here is what I have learned…
First, hire motivated sales people [duh, right!?]. It sounds obvious but many fail to do this. In doing some digging I’ve found that questions like “what motivates you to work hard to beat your sales quota” and “what jazzes you up about selling day in and day out” are not in the top 10 questions hiring managers ask. I’d take a highly motivated unproven salesperson over a non-motivated seasoned vet any day of the week. Start asking these questions early in the hiring process if you haven’t done so already.
Once hired, train your salespeople weekly – yes, weekly! Think coaching, sales skill practice, sales book of the month club discussions and the like. Motivated people eat training for breakfast, they love it! They want to consistently improve because that’s just the way they are wired. Plus, it helps them to earn bigger commissions. Ignore training at your peril, it is a primary motivator.
Finally, de-hire non-motivated salespeople now! Move them to a different role in your organization where they can soar with their strengths, or exit them from the company. If they are non-motivated keeping them in their current role is unfair for all parties. I will share with you that this is the one piece of advice my clients are slowest to take, but after they do their response is universally consistent, “why did I not do this sooner?”
Once you have your team of champions in place, here are some ways you can inject some additional motivational mojo over the course of the sales year…
You know the drill on this one. The new spin? Have the team select the prize they want. Some want cash, some want gift cards, others want time off. Create a menu of prize options and let each team member decide what they want to run hard for. Winning a big screen tv might pump up one rep, but leave others totally flat.
I had a client with an all-female sales team, selling into the spa industry. They jokingly had a sales tiara that sat on the desk of the previous month’s top seller. The competition for the tiara was friendly, but surprisingly fierce. Another client had a sales gong in the office that those who closed a deal could drop the hammer on as soon as they hung up the phone. Interestingly, I find the more quirky the trophy, the more people like it. What would your team’s equivalent to the sales tiara be?
What?? Don’t people want less work, not more? I’m not saying pile more work on your successful sellers, I’m saying add some cool new wrinkles into their role that stoke their internal motivators for personal and professional growth / role enrichment. Give them Key Account selling responsibilities. Entrust them with mentoring your newest and brightest. Bring them to the table for new product development meetings. Include them in marketing meetings and solicit their input on next year’s campaign.
Underneath it all, the true heart of motivating your people is getting to know them outside of their job role. It is proven that one of the top motivators around job role performance is an employee’s relationship with their direct superior. What have you done lately to fan those motivating flames?