Last month I wrote about the single most important trait for effective sales professionals being Empathy, the ability to understand someone’s feelings when not openly expressed. If you missed it, here’s the link.
But, there is not only one key to being an effective sales professional. Therefore we must understand additional attributes and behaviors to develop an effective sales effort for our business. So here’s a second key.
This post covers a more complex element of the best sales pro make up; here I cover Motivation.
Another Key To Effective Selling: Motivation
Motivation sounds simple enough and that may be part of the reason many find it difficult to find. Motivation is not the same for everyone. People have different amounts of motivation, different sources of motivation and different responses to de-motivation.
Think of motivation like the clothing you pack for a trip. You need the appropriate clothing for where you’re going. The appropriate amount, type and style to be effective. Too much clothing is not good, too little is bad, the wrong type or lack of flexibility produces disappointing results. So goes motivation for a salesperson.
We need to identify the motivation that best meets the needs of our business model and culture. Just like clothing, there is not one size that fits all so it is important to determine what our specific business needs.
Assuming the objectives for your business include a positive culture, a cohesive team and high overall productivity, I look for the type of motivation in team members that contribute to these objectives. Sales should be part of the team and motivated by the team’s success.
The nuance of motivation can be complex.
There are many schools of thought on profiling successful sales reps but I’m not trying to exhaust all variations in this post. I am telling you what has worked well for me in building sales organizations that performed well for the team.
I don’t like to spend too much time on the negative side of coaching but here it does help to have contrast that highlights what you should look for when building a strong sales team.
Common Traits of Motivation I Avoid and Why
- Motivation only from money. This promotes a selfish, every-man-for-himself culture. It’s difficult to flex with changing business needs without throwing more money at the change. Performance drops immediately if money gets tight.
- Motivation only by recognition. This makes a high maintenance employee that consumes a lot of management time. Performance drops immediately without a lot of attention; a lot of management time equals money.
I’ve watched many peer managers over the years struggle with turnover, infighting or erratic sales performance where the focus is on high commissions and awards. The root cause of the problems seems clear to me. There is a gap between the business needs and the sales person’s primary motivators. There are exceptions to every rule where the business owner is okay with a high turnover, sales meat grinder, every-man-for-himself culture. I don’t aspire to build that culture.
Which motivation is the greatest of them all for a strong sales and business team?
Motivation by success of the team! Go figure.
Why is Motivation By Success of the Team a Key to Effective Selling?
There are many people who are motivated by the team’s success. These people will generally have a holistic view of the business. They care about making the manager/owner happy. They are good collaborators between departments or functional areas. They want to help the business team succeed and are paid differently as a means to accomplish their objectives than other team members.
See the nuance here? One employee perspective is, “I sell something, you pay me.” The team player perspective is, “I need to sell something so the team can succeed and you pay me more to sell more.” One perspective is primarily focused on self, the other is focused on the team and recognizes a benefit to self.
I could write a year’s worth of articles on business war stories illustrating where a flexible and team oriented sales staff is a good long-term investment.
The major point I want you to take away is for you to recognize the motivators that match the culture and objectives of your overall business. My preference is for sales professionals to be team-oriented first but recognize a clear benefit as they produce at higher levels.
The sales professional that is driven by the success of the team will both produce high sales and actively support a strong culture in the other critical areas of your business.
“A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” – Proverbs 28:20