An old friend said yesterday that selling is all about understanding self-interest, yours and theirs (the buyers). With such a simple equation, it would seem everyone would be successful in sales, which certainly isn’t the case. I think there are two important dynamics that sales professional must navigate, understanding and pressure.
It seems like every conversation around motivating a sales force eventually turns towards the old ‘carrot and stick’ analogy. Either we should reward our teams for doing what we want (carrot) or punish them for failing (stick). Do you know where this analogy came from? It came from an old farmer’s story about getting a donkey to plow. I find it incredibly ironic when people discuss this as the “key to understanding sales force motivation” because:
- Your people are not donkeys and
- If it was that easy, there would be much greater sales of both carrots and sticks.
A top sales executive with a fortune 100 company recently told me “We need our people to be better leaders.” Leadership is one of the buzzwords that I keep hearing during the year. As companies are continuing to look for new and different ways to be successful in the current economic environment, many are looking towards having better leaders throughout their organizations as a way to differentiate themselves in the market.
Does anyone following the NFL ever wonder what a team is doing with a draft pick? Often times, teams with established quarterbacks will use a high draft pick on a rookie quarterback, even if the established quarterback has several good playing years left. Their philosophy is simple: Let the rookie quarterback learn from the experienced quarterback and when it is the rookie’s turn to assume the starting job, he is more prepared and ready to lead his team to victory.
Organizations follow this same logic, by establishing mentor/mentee programs, when they determine it is time to groom new leaders one day capable of leading the business. Mentors discuss mentees ambitions, suggest activities to help get experience, or provide ways for the mentee to learn the ins-and-outs of the business in an accelerated fashion.