To motivate salespeople during tough times – be fair & consistent.

Be careful not to give preferential treatment (playing favorites) to some members of your sales team vs. others.

Under normal business conditions you may be a leader who is measured and just. But during these tough times there’s a tendency for many sales managers to get uptight and stressed out. You may feel like you’re on a roller coaster, and that success (or failure) is entirely your responsibility. You are who you are….but who you are can change under these extremely stressful conditions. This “pressure cooker” can lead to inconsistent management behavior toward others, which can be very de-motivating to some players on your team.

Be careful about your words and body language, so that they don’t suggest you have favorites. Every team has both A players and B players. While a B player doesn’t contribute as much revenue as an A player, the B player is still performing an extremely valuable role on your team. The key rule is this – a neutral observer should not be able to determine from your words and deeds who on your team you like, and who you dislike (or like less).

A significant part of a salesperson’s motivation is based on his or her feelings about being treated fairly, so you want to err on the side of fairness. The simple truth is that if a salesperson is still on your team, he or she deserves your respect. If you decide that an individual’s poor performance requires you to “de-hire” them, then get on with it. Sooner, rather than later. But if you have decided to keep a person on your team, that person deserves that you be respectful.

You want to treat each person equitably, according to his or her needs. By “equitably” I do not mean identically. Each individual on your team has different needs. One salesperson may need coaching on sales presentation skills, another may need positive recognition, while a third salesperson may need you to help him with personal goal setting. So while the specific action you take may be different, each action has a common theme……that you are truly committed to the success of each salesperson on your team.

“These men ask for just the same thing – fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as is in my power, they, and all others, shall have.”

Abraham Lincoln

Kevin Davis

Kevin F. Davis is the author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness”, which was named the 2018 Axiom Business Book Award Winner, Silver Medal. Kevin is also the author of Slow Down, Sell Faster!”.