Many sales managers with whom I have worked believe that motivation comes solely from within, not from external factors. Managers who think this way disconnect from the idea that they have an impact on sales rep motivation; they think motivation is just part of a sales rep’s internal makeup and therefore don’t see motivation as part of their job description.
We all know that there is a large internal component to motivation. But there are also external factors at play that affect the level of motivation —money, achievement, recognition, and responsibility, for example. These are all factors that you as a sales manager can influence with effective sales coaching skills.
Here are three suggestions for things you can do as a sales manager to stimulate motivation levels on your team.
Help your sales reps to create stretch goals. Often we sales managers focus entirely on sales quotas and ignore sales reps’ personal goals. But it’s these personal goals that are the fuel that sparks personal achievement. Discover what your reps are passionate about in life, what drives them to succeed. The goals may include college tuition for children, paying off the mortgage, or even running a marathon. Help them to connect the dots between what they achieve on the job and what they can achieve in life, and they will be more likely to create stretch goals — and believe they can attain those goals.
Delegate problems back to the sales rep. Resist the temptation to be everyone’s problem solver. When sales reps try to hand off their problems to you, don’t accept their “gift.” Instead, ask them, “What have you done about it so far?” and “What do you think ought to be done?” Then encourage active problem solving, engage in role-playing activities, and promote team collaboration to help them understand the best way to attack their problem. Work to develop sound bites or methods of breaking through common problems that reps may encounter during the sales process. When you improve your sales team’s ability to solve problems on their own, you increase self-confidence and motivate them towards achieving even more.
Provide early-pipeline coaching. Because they have to be concerned about “what is closing this month,” sales managers often don’t initiate pipeline conversations with their sales reps until a deal is in later stages of the sales funnel. But by that point, there is very little they can do as a sales manager to affect the outcome — the size of the deal and the probability of success are largely determined in the earlier stages of the pipeline. The failure of the coaching effort, in turn, can have a demotivating impact on sales rep success. To win a sale that is downstream in the pipeline, sales reps have to master the upstream steps — such as identifying multiple customer needs, reaching multiple decision makers, understanding the competition, and tying your solution to the customer’s priority requirements. Work with your reps when opportunities are still young, and your coaching efforts will have a bigger effect.