My friend Bill Caskey just wrote a post titled What Are You Motivated By?
At the end of that post, he asks a couple of questions:
1) What have you seen work in the world of personal motivation for a team of performers ?
2) What motivates you to be the best you can be ?
Obvously, I’m writing a post to send my answers to Bill, but I want you to use the Comment function on this blog to let me know your answers or click thru and send Bill an email.
“ Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them. They make the impossible happen. “ ~ Dr. Robert Jarvik
The Real World of Sales – August 2008: In uneducated attempts to help, sales managers unknowingly demoralize and destroy sales teams every, single day.
There are at least 2 misconceptions floating around amongst sales leaders. Where they got these is a mystery to me.
1) Somebody erroneously told them that they can motivate their team.
2) Somebody erroneously told them employee morale can be managed.
The truth is, you cannot motivate another human. You can inspire, but motivation comes from within, so you as a sales leader have no control over that.
Morale is about as easy to control, or manage, as herding cats across the Kansas flatlands.
A couple of decades of being a salesman have taught me that every now and again a sales manager gets lucky and implements a program that I take advantage of to increase my sales.
He then thinks he’s discovered a truth or at least a principle and writes it down as gospel.
The fact is he caught me on a good day, a good week or a good month.
Everything in my personal life was going well, the economy was great and my accounts were doing well.
I’m not a file cabinet. I’m not an agenda for a meeting. I’m not inventory.
Those are “things” you can manage.
I’m a human and we can’t be managed as easily as inanimate objects.
Books have been written that say otherwise. Vast sums of money have been spent on studies that say otherwise.
Here’s a fact for you: Books and studies basically say what the writer thought you wanted to hear or say what the writer thought those that commissioned him wanted him to write.
Numbers and stats can be made to say almost anything, but as a real, live human who happens to make his living by selling, I’m telling you that you cannot manage or motivate me.
How many hundreds, maybe thousands, of techniques have been written about motivating and managing sales personnel ?
Enough to fill a presidential library, I’m sure, with more every day.
If those were really effective, why would we need more and why did the previous one’s fail to stick ?
The reason is actually pretty simple.
They didn’t work for the same reason they did work for a short time. Because the sales personnel chose to allow them to work until they tired of them.
Although I believe and suggest you cannot motivate another person, I do believe and suggest you can lessen the motivation of another person by your actions, words or attitude.
I believe human nature is fairly steady in it’s resolve. It varies very little from the time man was created until the present day, so you can find ways to use it to your advantage as a sales manager.
Every day and every person is different, so it matters much, much more who you are than what you do.
How can that be so, you ask ? I simply say that there are scores of organizations who do absolutely nothing to incentivize their employees, have no special programs and yet they have happy, efficient, effective employees.
How can that be so, you ask ? It works because the leaders do nothing to demoralize and destroy their sales team.
Simply by being considerate, committed, dedicated and by behaving and acting properly, the leaders allow their team members to do the same.
So we can safely say that who you are is more important than what you do, as it applies to employee morale, efficiency and effectiveness.
I’m not dumb and neither are other sales people. When you design and implement a sales contest or incentive program, I know it’s because you want more profits and more sales.
Duh?! It’s not because you want to help pay for my daughters education, her braces or her first car.
What’s that make me feel like ? It makes me feel like a pawn on a chess board, not a valued part of the team.
The bad part of this equation for you, as a sales manager is that there’s no secret formula or magic pill that will tell you what to do and what not to do.
My feelings change from day to day, week to week and month to month. So your best course of action is to make sure you do as few of the things that destroy morale as possible and we’ll be able to work together for as long as my motivation level is high enough to allow me to do what I need to do to keep doing what you pay me to do.
Each person starts with a different number of “motivation credits” in his or her account.
When you subtract more than I can stand, I’ll lose interest in working for you and we’ll eventually have to part ways.
The bad part is neither of us really knows how many credits are in our account, so I won’t know I’m done until you overdraw my account with a bad action, reaction or behavior.
I’m going to list 5 of the most common ways that sales managers destroy morale, withdraw motivation credits and defeat sales personnel.
One caveat is that each employee is different, each one of us have a different list and our lists change as circumstances change our perspective.
Life, death, marriage, divorce, money found, money lost, housing, etc. I could list over 100 factors that change those circumstances, but the list would change almost before I could write it.
That said, here’s my 5 Simple Ways To Destroy A Sales Team:
Be A Faker. Sales people hate fakers that somehow manage to get promoted to or hired as a sales manager.
If you aren’t better than I am, I won’t be able to work for you. Not for very long anyway.
It’s as simple as that.
You either have it together or you don’t and I don’t have time or inclination to wait for you to get to where you should have been before you took the position.
If you want to destroy a sales team, put someone in charge who has to grow into the job.
Be A Nitpicker. You used to be where I’m at now. You think you were put in charge just because you can spot every, single thing that I do wrong.
You can’t and I won’t be around long enough, at least mentally, for you to fix every flaw you think I have.
You’ll do both of us a favor if you’ll find my strengths, instead of what you think are flaws, and help me make those strengths even stronger.
We’re different, so what works for you won’t work for me. You can’t fix my golf swing and you can’t make me a better salesman.
You can, however, encourage me to be a better person, to be more well-rounded and balanced and those traits will make me a better salesman.
We know now that the Salem witch hunts were misguided. So are your attempts to fix me and orchestrate my methodologies.
Be Ignorant and Selfish. Did you hear some news that might improve my chances at winning a large piece of business, but you withheld it because you wanted to “see if I’d find it on my own” ?
That’s ignorant, stupid and selfish. The team’s success is far more important than your agenda.
It’s my 5th anniversary with the company. Acknowledge it. Don’t think I don’t care, because I do.
Withholding praise and communication is an easy way to deplete my motivation credits quickly.
Tell me to do something, but refuse to tell me why. That’ll make me really want to do a good job for you. I can’t be sure of just how to handle a circumstance without fully being informed as to why we’re doing what we’re doing.
I love finding out about price increases from my customers. Not communicating is worse than miscommunication because it makes me feel worthless and unnecessary.
Thanks for that.
Be an Assumer. We all know the old saying about assuming, but the truth is it’s the same thing as taking me for granted. That doesn’t work in a marriage, it doesn’t work for me with my customers and it won’t work for you as a sales manager.
Assumptions turn into disappointments, whereas expectations come with a set of possibilities. There’s the possibility that I’ll produce the outcome we want if I know what you expect.
If I have to guess, because you didn’t communicate properly, don’t expect me to take it well when you whine about not getting what you wanted.
Actions can be managed and because of that I can be given instruction if I fail to produce. You can instruct me before or you can instruct me later.
Your choice. Guess which works better and is the easiest ?
Be Inconsistent. I love it when you tell me you’re going to do something and then don’t do it … or do it about half way. Either way, my attitude is toast and motivation credits are deducted from my account.
Oh, by the way, your apologies for consistently coming up short are hollow and worthless to me after the second or third instance.
You work nights and weekends, or maybe you don’t but should, to meet the demands of your direct supervisor, but as my direct supervisor you seem to think it’s okay to go home at 4 o’clock and ignore the 3 or 4 voicemails I left for you at 11, 12, 1 and 2 o’clock.
Thanks for ignoring my pleas for help, info or a shoulder to vent on.
There are really no solutions for the 5 problems I listed, outside of not committing them in the first place.
There are only so many motivation credits in the accounts of your sale people and when they’re gone, they’re gone.
They only get replenished if you or the employee leaves their position. Sometimes even that doesn’t completely replenish the balance.
Remember, who you are is more important than what you do, as it applies to employee morale, efficiency and effectiveness.
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