Sales Leadership Missing Ingredient – Motivation

Posted by Chris Mott on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 @ 14:04 PM

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To what extent are salespeople self-motivated?  The answer that I commonly hear captures a critical flaw in how sales leaders manage salespeople. 

By nature, salespeople are emotional people who are driven by competition, fear of failure, recognition for success, financial reward, the satisfaction from problem-solving and many other factors.  They also want to be heard and given attention.

How they feel about themselves, their company, their sales leader and their quality of life has a profound impact on their capacity to be successful over time.  They must bring strong desire, commitment to succeed, a strong work ethic and attentiveness to building a quality pipeline.

A fatal flaw is that sales leaders believe salespeople are self-motivating, should be emotionally mature enough to weather tough times and able to bounce back on their own.  In a perfect world, without the emotional component, this is a reasonable assumption.  In the day-to-day world of a salesperson, this conclusion doesn’t work.

Great sales organizations pay attention to metrics and selling behavior.  They also spend much time practicing.  Dave Kurlan wrote a recent article on the Selling Power website that discusses this.

Great motivators pay close attention to how their salespeople are feeling.  Are they distracted by outside events?  Have recent losses caused them to question their ability?  Are they dragged down by a bravery problem?  Are they emotionally involved with things going on at home?

You can see and feel the symptoms of these problems, whether it’s the tone of someone’s voice, their eye contact, distraction or your sense that something isn’t right.  More often than not, sales leaders believe it’s temporary and don’t act until too much time has passed.  They engage the salesperson, but often without being present or on a surface level.

How honed are your sales motivations skills?  Are you practicing and setting the example?  When you hold people accountable, do you get emotional and lose objectivity?  Are you able to role-play anything at any time?  Are your salespeople learning from their mistakes and improving each day?

The majority of sales leaders are not well-trained or mentored.  Some are the sales leader by default and don’t commit the time and/or energy needed.  Great sales leaders should spend 80% of their time on the following: 

  • Coaching:  pre-call strategy and post-call debriefing
  • Motivating
  • Accountability
  • Mentoring
  • Proactive Recruiting 

If you want to grow revenue and profits and to improve the top line, there is no replacement for highly-effective sales leadership. 

Kurlan and Associates, Inc. is hosting a two-day Sales Leadership Symposium on May 9-10 in Boston.  This program will combine skill improvement with extensive practice and the development of a customized sales leadership plan for yourself and your people.  Information can be found at Sales Leadership Symposium.


Topics: effective sales coaching, developing your sales people, motivating salespeople

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