How Do I Motivate My Sales Team? Remember This.

"HOW TO MOTIVATE your sales team" over two hands holding a car key

If I ran a retail business right now, I'd be asking myself one question: how do I motivate my sales team? Because motivation seems to be lacking.

Over the past few months my wife Gimalle and I had a few experiences that have left us wondering whether the sales profession is even still in existence.

Since June 1st, we have visited three show suites, two car dealerships and four stores that sell beds and mattresses. I am dismayed to say we have yet to interact with one salesperson who exhibits even the remotest traits associated with professionalism.

It is not my intention to be critical, but rather to express my utter amazement about how seemingly uncaring and disinterested these folks are. Especially considering the size of their paycheque is directly tied to the size and number of sales they make.

Sales is a harsh profession. It is one of the few that truly pays you what you are worth, and sometimes that is a stark reality. It is the truest form of compensation, because it pays for results, not intentions. That is the most important factor a sales manager needs to remember and instil in his or her staff.

Those who don't take it seriously suffer the consequences of negligible compensation, low sales numbers for the entire organization, not to mention unhappy customers.

Over the years, I have coached, trained and worked with salespeople from every imaginable industry. Many of them come to me seeking new habits to help them improve their sales. My advice to them is the same as to anyone who wants to make a change. 

Intentions don’t count. Actions do. Results come from what we do, not from what we intend to do.

We only ever do one thing – we do what is most important to us in the moment.

What I've been witnessing in the sales business lately is a lot of people who are choosing what is easy, or what they'd prefer to do in the moment, rather than what will be best for them on payday.

Sales Motivation: My Personal Experiment

When I meet someone who sells for a living, I make it a habit to give them my business card out of sheer curiosity.  I do this because I have long been intrigued by how few salespeople, despite now having at least six different ways of reaching me through the information on my business card, actually follow up on the lead.

On our recent outings, not one of the salespeople we spoke with has followed up with either of us.

But wait, there’s more.

In one show suite, the realtor interrupted our conversation three times to answer her phone. She also texted back and forth throughout our discussion. Perhaps she was working on another sale. Perhaps she was playing Candy Crush. Either way, it sent a clear message to Gimalle and me: we weren't as important as her phone.

In a different suite, the realtor had begun answering a question for us when he was distracted by another couple entering the home. He obviously recognized them, for he turned away without saying “excuse me,” and went to greet them.

We waited for five minutes and left. He has my card. I’m sure he’ll call me any day now.

At one car dealership, the male salesperson talked only to me. Even when Gimalle asked a question, he ignored her and focused on me while answering. BIG mistake indeed. 

At the other dealership, this salesman too, interrupted our discussion to answer his phone. This time, I asked him not to do that again.  Yet when it did ring a few moments later, he looked at the screen, looked at me, and proclaimed “this is important.”He then spent the next three minutes negotiating which movie he and his girlfriend were going to see that evening.

There are two things about our experience that amaze me.

Firstly, it hurts my brain even trying to understand how a person whose source of income is tied to closing sales can work so diligently to avoid doing so.

Secondly, perhaps even more difficult to comprehend, is how business owners who have huge investments in their businesses, can be so blind to the damage their own folks are causing them.

A friend of mine frequently quips that not all court cases require Perry Mason. Agreed, but I would imagine the larger the investment (i.e., house vs lawnmower), the more a business owner would invest to ensure their sales force was as capable, competent and able to sell so that they both have a paycheque at the end of the month.

So, How Do I Motivate My Sales Team?

What do you do? Firstly, examine your intentions. Remember that we only do what is important in the moment. And we decide what is important by whether it will give us pleasure or help us avoid pain.

Help your team do an instant cost/benefit analysis.

The pleasure of avoiding the hard work of helping customers only lasts a few hours. Conversely, being reminded of your poor choices lasts a lifetime, in the form of lack of sales and therefore lack of money.

It has been said, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” It is as true today as it ever was. If you can show me you care about your product, have honed your influencing skills, and you have a genuine desire to help me solve my problem, I will be a customer for life. And I would imagine there are plenty more where that came from. If you're asking yourself, "How do I motivate my sales team?" start by observing how they're treating the people who walk through the door.

a guy sitting at a table with a quote over it


Till we read again.


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