As a sales leader, how do you most effectively impact sales team motivation? I recently asked this question to a VP of Sales and was curious to hear his response. Generally speaking, when you ask this question to 100 sales leaders you will get an assortment of different responses with each response being a touch different than the other. However, today this particular VP of Sales hit the nail on the head. What was his answer? A simple yet profound one, he said “I have found that the best way to motivate my sales team is to be a great sales coach”. I am always a bit shocked when I hear an answer like this for a couple of different reasons. First, most people do not speak about coaching as their first response when concerning sales team motivation. Unfortunately, way too often the first item to be referenced is compensation plans. And while having competitive compensation packages and incentives are definitely important, they do little to obtain the sustained discretionary effort, or motivation, of a sales rep. Second, even when sales leaders get around to talking about sales coaching and the impact it has on sales team motivation, most of them talk about the subject in a lukewarm fashion because they know that to be a great sales coach it means really getting involved with your people, and people are messy and complicated.
Today, however, this particular VP of Sales answered Coaching and he did it with a passion and tone that you wouldn’t dare tell him that he was wrong. Of course, I had the luxury of not having to tell him he was wrong because he was absolutely correct. When it comes to what motivates sales people to sell more the number one answer is coaching. I know this because we did an extensive research study on this topic titled The Role of The Manager In Sales Team Motivation. What you are going to realize when you take a look at this research study is that to really motivate your sales reps to sell more you should be most concerned with two items:
- Helping your reps progress towards their career objectives
Notice how both of these items are very relationship based. I know as an industry, sales management can sometimes forget how much the relationship matters between the manager and the rep. This is somewhat hard to believe because we would never neglect the relationship between the rep and the customer or prospect, but we do it all too often with the manager-rep relationship. Now this is not to downplay the importance of things like industry knowledge, product knowledge, sales methodologies, pipeline analytics, etc. But when it comes to motivation you want to focus on Coaching and helping your reps progress towards career objectives in order to really get into the heart and soul of those on your team to drive results.
So how can you be a better sales coach in 2014? The first piece of advice I would offer is to put a renewed emphasis on the relationships you have with each and every sales rep on your team. There is no cookie cutter approach to being a good sales approach because no two human beings, and especially no two sales people are exactly the same. Secondly, I would spend some time defining what you and your sales team view as effective coaching. A good place to start is to download the newest EcSell Institute Sales Coaching E-Book. This is a concise yet powerful E-Brief that will educate you and inspire you with some new sales coaching opportunities. Finally, be very conscious and deliberate about having a development plan that is sales coaching specific. Many sales organizations do a fine job of providing resources, tools, and training for their sales reps which is great, but what about the sales managers?
Remember that nothing impacts sales team motivation more than Coaching. And if you believe that the performance of your sales team is a reflection of how they are coached and managed, what will you be doing today and tomorrow to become an even better sales coach than you are today?
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Thanks for reading,
Director of Business Development