As a salesperson, sales manager, or sales leader, you are probably well aware of your company’s formal structure for recognition. Top sales people receive plaques, mention in newsletters, and trips to the beach. Recognition in this form is an effective motivator, but it fails to do one key thing. It fails to motivate middle performers.
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.