One of the earliest mistakes I made as a sales leader was to focus my attention on motivating my team. Every Monday morning, we would have a quick sales meeting and I would seek to implement a new ‘sales motivation’ technique I had just learned from the latest sales and leadership book. I found that it worked in the short term and that sales results were increasing and moving in the right direction. However it didn’t take long before I grew more and more tired, having to come up with more innovative ways to motivate my sales team and I also started to notice that the ‘rub off’ effect of my ‘Monday Motivation’ was having less of an impact, with sales and morale appearing to plateau.
In desperation, I approached my mentor and pleaded for his guidance – hoping he would be able to share with me the secret ingredient that would enable me to reinvigorate my Motivational Monday and return sales to an increasing trajectory. Instead, he delivered a message that at the time I thought to be anything by motivational. He said ‘if you are focussing on motivating your team – STOP!!’ He went on to explain that by me seeking to motivate my team, I was teaching them to develop a level of dependency and I was developing co-dependency and this was anything but sustainable. He said my focus must be on developing a level of independence and seeking to inspire rather than motivate. He explained that true motivation comes from within and any external motivation is often short lived and not sustainable. However, if I created an environment where the team were inspired to achieve, they would motivate themselves and in the process, build the muscle around independence, and increase the chances of developing sustainable success.
Are you currently focussing on motivating your sales team? If you are – STOP now!! Instead, look to implement the following :
- Run a session of personal self reflection to understand why you are a sales leader and what inspires you to achieve. You know that it is your responsibility to lead your team by example and once you are crystal clear on why you do what you do, it will be easier for your team to do the same. Find a place outside of your normal work environment, have a pad and pen and mind map out why you do what you do.
- Instead of looking at techniques to motivate your team, seek to understand why each of your sales people do what they do. And when you dig deep, you may be surprised that many of them will not be motivated by money. Apply ‘sales 101’ and identify their hot buttons and then press them. Understand that people do things for their reasons, not yours.
- Create and maintain an environment within the team which will underpin sustainable success. This includes empowering your people, encouraging them to make decisions, take action and take risks, without the fear of reprisal. This alone will drive a level of independence within the team.
- Seek opportunities to genuinely acknowledge and praise your team and the individual sales people. This dovetails perfectly into point #3 above as even acknowledgement of a small achievement can do wonders for a sales person’s ego and confidence. And please ensure that the acknowledgement is genuine and authentic.
- Be consistent. Having implemented the above 4 principles, ensure that you maintain your standards and consistently undertake them. Nothing fractures a team culture (not to mention results!) quicker than inconsistency. Be consistent.
When I implemented these principles, I discovered that I no longer required the ‘Monday Motivation’ sessions. The team developed a level of independence, their sales results increased, their engagement and morale increased and the team began to hum – we were in flow.
So if you currently find yourself motivating your sales team to achieve the numbers – STOP right now. Allow my long path to be your short cut – implement the 5 principles above and watch what happens!
To your continued sales leadership success.
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Darren is a Sales Leadership and Sales Performance Coach, Facilitator & Speaker. He is an experienced and committed coach with a background of sales leadership success in large organisations. He applies a genuine focus to coaching and developing high performing sales leaders who are looking to unleash the potential of themselves and their teams.