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  • Writer's pictureLance Tyson

5 Secrets to Motivate Your Salespeople

Updated: May 30, 2023

Motivate your sales team tyson group

A question I often get in my consultation sessions is, “Bob’s not motivated. What’s the best way to motivate Bob to get out there and sell more?”

Well, I don’t know if there’s a best way to motivate sales people because I actually don’t believe motivation is an outward force. It’s not something you do to someone. Motivation comes from within the individual.

Now, there are some things you can do as a leader. In fact, there are some things you need to do as a leader to get your people off and running on all cylinders. But there is no special lightning-in-a-bottle that you can juice your whole team with to get them moving with gusto. In fact, there are probably some people in prison that are motivated by the same values as the sales reps on your team! Ultimately, we define motivation as coming from within the individual, not from something external to the person.

Now, from a sales leadership standpoint, I don’t believe your job is to motivate your people. I believe your job is to understand motivation to the point where you can help your people motivate themselves.

With that, here are 5 secrets of motivation to help you get your people performing at the next level.

Motivation is Different for Everyone Now, if I go back to what we just said, your job as a sales leader is to understand motivation and realize that it’s not a one size fits mosts. That would be like one of those hats you buy down in Disney World, where all the hats fit the same head. I think motivation is really personal. To understand that, you need to really consider the following example. Two sales people have worked with me for multiple years and each motivates themselves in a different way. They are just completely opposite. One person on staff loves the public accolades, loves to win contests. That’s the way she rolls. But the other salesperson feels stuff like that is not as important to her. She competes against herself. Now if I try to apply the same, cookbook, motivation techniques to each person the same way, that’s an example of one size fits most. And it doesn’t work. That leads us to…

Knowing the Difference Between Motivation and Manipulation I don’t think most sales leaders understand the difference between motivation and manipulation In fact, most people think manipulation is a bad thing. Well, you have to know that there are several meanings to the word manipulation. If you look up the definition on Google or the Merriam Webster’s website, the first meaning will tell you that manipulation is to act in a skillful manner. I think the number one thing you have to understand as a sales leader is that you are trying to manipulate a situation to achieve a result. You’re trying to, for instance, use a contest to extract the best from some of your people. Or maybe you give someone additional responsibility to make a member feel challenged. Or maybe you ultimately give members the clients that match their temperament. Since motivation comes from within, it’s not something you can just turn on or off in an individual. But you can manipulate the environment to help your people perform their best. Don’t like the word manipulate? Try create. Or engineer. But know that you need to set up the environment where your people can flourish, grow, and feel compelled to succeed. Now, if you’ve created the best environment for your people, there’s another piece you need to be aware of. And that is…

What you Say Matters The other thing you have to understand is that great pep talks aren’t going to get the job done. Sure you can use stories, anecdotes, and offer encouragement to move your team members. But none of these have a lasting effect. And they don’t work the same on all people. Some people operate more like how Dr. Seuss describes them in his book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. Dr. Seuss said, “You’ll succeed yes you will indeed, 98 and 3⁄4 percent guaranteed. Kid, you’ll move mountains be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray. or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to Great Places! You’re off and away. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way.” So your people will understand they can do it. But then there’s another section in the same book where Dr. Seuss says “You’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win because they’ll be against you.” Words matter. But they won’t necessarily move all of the people all of the time. Some people need that occasional, verbal pat-on-the-back to keep them on track. Others see the actual accomplishment as the ultimate motivation and they “play those lonely games.” If you’re going to be an effective sales leader, you gotta really understand that some people play those lonely, inner games. You have to have a clear understanding of what makes both types of people work and who is which type in your team. That brings us to…

Fair is not Equal

I think the next thing sales leaders have to realize is that a lot of people come into sales jobs and think everyone should be treated equally. I think people need to be treated fairly, not necessarily equally. You have to remember, everyone has their own unique talents, styles, and experiences. So treating everyone equally will not have the effect you want. For example, let’s say I’m talking about inbound leads. If I’m gonna give out a lead, I’m not necessarily going to spread the wealth around to everybody. Leads or company referrals that come in are probably going to be given to my best people - the ones who are going to address the lead timely and have the best chance to close it. It’s kinda like ice hockey. You give the ice time to the first liners, you expect more goals. You need to understand that. Finally…

To Motivate Your People, Know Your People In your role as a leader, if you want to understand motivation, the key here is not to think that motivation is merely an external tactic you can quickly apply to your team. You need to get to know your people. Everybody is motivated by different things. For example, some people reading this blog post might be very motivated by getting to the next level in their profession. So, maybe their motivation extends into actualization, the top level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. On the other hand, some of your people may be at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy, living in survival mode. They need the job to survive. Your role, as a sales leader, is to invest some time getting to understand the different narratives of the members on your team and assess their skills and talents. Only then can you strategically set the environment and your interactions accordingly to get the best out of them. Back when we performed general leadership training, one of the pillars we reviewed constantly was an idea pulled from Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. In that book, Collins stated that leaders of great companies were good at getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. That’s the crux of motivating your team. Know your people’s temperament, skills, and abilities so that you can get them in the right position where they can be successful and motivate themselves. You don’t want to be in a position where you are constantly pumping up your team. Instead, take time to know your people so you can set up the environment that will compel them to motivate themselves to be the best they can be.

Want More Ideas on Assessing Your Sales Reps and to Motivate Your Team?

To learn more about how away-game selling can give you a competitive edge, contact Tyson Group here.

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