Being in sales is a lot like running a marathon. The amount of effort and grind that goes into a sales person hitting their number, or crossing the finish line so to speak, is a lot of work. Sales people live their life one quarter after another trying to hit the goals they and their sales managers have set. They prospect, make dials, send emails, hold sales calls, make presentations, attend meetings, close sales calls, have big wins, face big set-backs and on and on and on.
All the while, knowing that reaching their proverbial finish line will result in a feeling of extreme satisfaction only to be met with the challenge of starting over again. I am exhausted already from writing this paragraph so I can truly empathize with the challenge that sales managers face when trying to keep each sales person on their team motivated; it’s not easy. So how does a sales manager effect sales motivation? It’s great sales coaching.
The EcSell Institute’s research proves that the number one item that motivates sales teams and sales people to sell more is coaching. I thought a lot about this research this past weekend while watching my wife complete her first full marathon at the Rock and Roll Marathon in Phoenix, AZ. I will speak proudly and somewhat hyperbolically when stating that nobody is more self-motivated than my wife Amy; she impresses me every day with her drive to do more than she did yesterday. Knowing this, I pretty much stayed out of her way during her training process and left the motivation to her running coach and ART specialist. That is not to say I did not offer my support, I did, but mostly by way of spending more time with our son Jackson which was win for me. Amy learned a lot through self-education and from her coach leading up to the marathon, but it was what I observed in Phoenix that let me to write this blog. Let me explain:
At the EcSell Institute we talk a lot about what it means to be a great sales coach. Mainly, you need to be effective in the areas of the 6 Pillars of Sales Management, you need to have great leadership skills and leadership environment on your team, and you need to possess the Catalytic Factor in order to maximize sales team performance. However, one thing we should possibly point out more is that as a sales coach you don’t always have to drive the motivation all by yourself. In Amy’s case, her coach did a good job of training her, providing education, setting up the path to success, but mostly what he did was simply perpetuate her self-structure and provide some suggestions that proved very helpful. Possibly the most impactful suggestion was to always be learning about proven ways that will make her successful.
Upon checking in to the Westin Hotel in downtown Phoenix, which was an absolute delight, we learned that they had a running expert on-site to answer any questions we might have about the race. Given the advice from Amy’s coach to always be learning and her inquisitive nature we made our way to see Chris, the expert, as soon as we checked in.
Visiting with Chris was extremely valuable for a variety of reasons, but most notably because he was able to give Amy some last minute science proven tips, suggestions, and helped me realize how big of an impact I could play during the race to help keep Amy focused and motivated to finish and finish strong. Some of which included being very cognizant of pace time during the first 10 minutes of the race, making sure to get to the starting line early to soak up the experience and enjoy the energy, making sure to listen to Amy when she let me know how important it was for me to see her at all of the designated mile markers, etc…
So what does all of this have to do with sales motivation? Well, consider the following pieces of advice below that will help you keep your sales team’s motivated that you might otherwise have lost sight of along the way.
- Build a culture of on-going learning and improvement that comes from a variety of different resources, not just your products and industry. Information moves swiftly and what you want as a sales leaders is a team of self-directed sales people who will seek answers and proven ways to excel on their own and bring the solutions to you and the balance of the team
- Never underestimate surrounding yourself with other high performing peers. The energy at the marathon starting line was an amazing experience. When you surround yourself with other sales leaders who are looking to be great coaches you will learn a lot and experience a different level of engagement.
- Lean on family members, friends, and colleagues to help you motivate your sales people. This was Amy’s race, but I was able to provide her extra motivation by making a video beforehand and by being present at the event. The next time your sales rep has a tremendous quarter, reach out to their family and let them know about it or give a gift card to their spouse that allows them a night out. It is nice to reward the sales person, but think outside the box to reward them in a way that is unique and meaningful.
- Make sure to praise you sales people for their day to day grit. Recognizing them for the big sales or for hitting their number is to be expected, but make sure to acknowledge and pay close attention to all of their effort that leads to the end result. This will build trust and get them to make the extra phone calls or send the late night emails.
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