Why have your salespeople been so successful in reaching some goals, but not others? Decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do. Heidi Grant Halvorson, a motivational psychologist and author of "Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals" (Hudson Street Press, 2011), summarized nine things that successful people do differently in a recent Harvard Business Review article.
1. Get Specific. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve your sales team to achieve will help keep them motivated until they get there. Also, spell out the specific actions that need to be taken to reach that goal.
2. Seizing the moment to act on goals. Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it's not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Reinforce to your salespeople that achieving goals means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through their fingers.
3. Track exactly how far is left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of progress. Communicate this to your salespeople. If they don't know how well they are doing, they can't adjust their behavior or your strategies accordingly.
4. Be a realistic optimist. When setting goals, engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely it is that each salesperson will achieve it. Helping them believe in their ability to succeed is imperative to creating and sustaining their motivation.
5. Help them focus on getting better. Believing they have the ability to reach goals is important, but so is believing they can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed -that no matter what we do, we won't improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves rather than developing and acquiring new skills.
6. Instill grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. You can help people who aren't naturally gritty become so. Effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help them see themselves and their goals more accurately, but also do wonders for their grit.
7. Build willpower muscle. When a person gives their self-control "muscle" regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help them successfully reach their goals. To build willpower, have your salespeople take on a challenge that requires them to do something they would honestly rather not do. It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that's the whole point.
8. Don't tempt fate. No matter how strong the willpower muscle becomes, it's important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if one overtaxes it they will temporarily run out of steam. Don't allow team members to take on two challenging tasks at once if they can help it.
9. Get them to focus on what they will do, not what they won't do. Have them plan how they will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves.
Remember, your salespeople don't need to become different people to become more successful. It's never what you are, but what you do.