Are Your Salespeople Lack-of-Money-Motivated?

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As a salesman for 30 years, a full time recruiter of salespeople for 10 years and trainer of salespeople for the last 13 years, a myth that needs busting is that most salespeople are money motivated.

They aren’t.

They are lack of money motivated.

If they aren’t earning as much as they believe they need to get their needs met, they are motivated, but as soon as they meet the level of income they require (they hit the brow of the hill) they take their foot off the accelerator and settle into a comfortable existence living to their means, or even a little beyond it if they can muster up the credit lines.

I can’t tell you the number of salespeople and business owners I’ve known who buy groceries on their credit card and fail to pay their card off at the end of each month. They quickly accrue significant credit card debt at punitive interest rates and then …. complain they have no money. And many carry these debts for years, often longer than a decade!

You rarely have a genuine cashflow problem in sales. You have a not selling enough problem.

This is usually a bye-product of having a lack of commitment, rather than lacking desire. I can want more money but am I willing to do what I need to do in order to earn it?

If you have staff who say they want more money but simply ask for a pay rise as if it’s a right or your duty as their employer, perhaps you need to reconsider their employment. If they come to you and say “Boss, I need more money. What do I have to do to earn it?”, then prick up your ears, set time aside and help them earn more money. You have the makings of a winner instead of an “at leaster” – “at least I have a job”, “at least I have a roof over my head” – or a loser – “it’s not my fault or responsibility”, “rescue me”.

Do you have to listen to salespeople who knuckle down to regular pity parties? “It’s not fair ….”

Equally, salespeople who worship money, I have a bit of problem with too. They tend to be too ruthless and will do anything to make themselves money even at the expense of you, your reputation as a business and your customer, long term.

Find and keep salespeople who are ambitious, who take personal responsibility for their own situation, who proactively invest in themselves and their learning. When you interview them and explore their money concept, do they have a view of the world that it is full of abundance, even in tough times? Do they clearly believe that they have personal responsibility for their situation in life? Have they recently and consistently read books to develop themselves, their skills and their understanding of their market and people in general? Do they demonstrate ambition and personal drive, and a bias towards taking action? Do they bleat about the company not providing them with leads or do they get on with prospecting for their own leads? Do they drive sales systematically from start to conclusion in a consistent and predictable manner?

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Understanding the real motivation of your salespeople is one of the essential skills and focus of every good manager. Unless you understand what personally motivates your salespeople, how are you going to tie their personal goals to their company goals to get the best out of them.

I posit that most successful salespeople succeed in spite of their manager, not because of them. Is that why your top salespeople are successful? Wouldn’t they’d succeed in any environment and not because you helped make them with your emphasis on managing the numbers, running competitions or end of quarter fireside sales? Is your compensation scheme rally what drives their top performance?

The best sales managers I’ve ever had and worked with, made it their mission to understand their people.  They took the trouble to listen to their salespeople’s story, to get inside their heads and discover their personal drivers and motivations.

They used what they learned to find the motivational triggers of each individual. They unlocked the individuals’ strengths and played to them. They provided support, guidance and direction when it was needed, not when it wasn’t. They understood the difference between being nice and being kind. Nice means you avoid saying the thing on your mind for fear of creating the conditions for conflict. Being kind means telling the difficult truth even when it makes you uncomfortable to do so.

They served their people. And because they understood that more money was rarely the prime motivator for most salespeople, recognition was regularly given, since it has and will remain the number 1 motivator.

They took the time and put in the effort to understand their people. They found ways of tying the personal goals to the company goals so that they could keep the momentum up and drive the desired behaviours of their salespeople.

The smartest ones designed their compensation schemes to drive the right behaviours consistently and had a discretionary element for the manager to be able to tailor the rewards individuals received based on what they knew about the personal drivers.

A client of mine knew one salesperson loved off-roading, so he created a plan that allowed the salesperson to earn a LandRover; another loved history and travel, so for hitting his targets he got a 3 week long, expenses paid trip to Jordan exploring the archaeological sites in the region.

In a smaller firm, the top salesperson earned a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes which she wore to work and proceeded to smash every sales target the company had ever set in the next quarter.

Salespeople are people first. Unless you understand what makes them tick you can’t get the best out of them and that is your job as their manager. Supervisory activities should comprise a tiny proportion of your job as manager if you started right by hiring the right person, set their expectations clearly and focused their attention on doing the right behaviours and paying attention to the leading indicators that make them successful.

This article is authored by Marcus Cauchi. Mr. Cauchi is Sandler Sales Trainer & Sales Management Training Course Provider (Thames Valley/South East).

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