We all face the challenge of motivating our team, developing an awesome culture, like that at Google or Virgin, and seeing the big picture as we want to view it.
As a leader, we need to ask ourselves seven questions:
1. Do your people know your plans?
The best way to motivate people is to let them know your plans so they can participate in them. Make company goals, as well as your objectives, clear. Let them see the big picture and get a sense of the importance of their contribution to it.
2. Do you give feedback?
Feedback is important to even the most motivated sales executive. Every team member wants to be encouraged if they are doing well.
If they are not doing well, they want to know why. Feedback keeps the communication channels open.
If your salespeople know you’re willing to discuss performance with them, they’ll be more likely to bring you their problems and questions to keep you better informed.
Create an atmosphere where people are not afraid to tell you when something is wrong, and you will have fewer surprises.
3. Do you build on strengths?
Many principals and managers have been programmed to focus on weaknesses – as though any imperfection would negate or detract from any strength. This is not so.
All success comes from strengths. An intelligent and persistent person succeeds because of intelligence and persistence, and in spite of any other handicap.
4. Do you give constructive praise?
The golden rule for sales management is, “Never be too tough on a person when they’re down”.
When someone is upset over failure, harping on the negative can hurt them and squash any incentive to improve.
Even when giving criticism, you can create a positive framework: “I don’t think this is up to your usual standard. How can we improve this situation?”
5. Do you give rewards?
If your salespeople meet their agreed objectives, it is a good idea to extend their rewards beyond kind words. Money, bonuses and incentives are key motivators for salespeople.
Another reward you can give a high achiever is your time. Most managers spend the bulk of their time with the poor performers and let the best ones fend for themselves.
When someone does a good job, recognise their efforts and set aside time to develop ways to motivate that salesperson to do even more.
6. Do you listen and learn?
I read in a business book that after finding himself at a dead end, out of money and out of prospects, Thomas Edison once asked his janitor this question: “I’d like to ask your advice. What do you think I should do in this situation?”
The janitor was stunned.
“Nobody ever asked for my advice before,” he replied.
“Well,” said Edison, “then you should have a lot of good ideas stored up”.
It doesn’t matter what other techniques you employ in a quest to motivate your people. You have to ask questions and listen at least as much as you talk.
No one’s ideas should be missed. You don’t have to seize on every idea, but always give proper recognition for every valid suggestion.
7. Do you set an example?
The best sales leader is a good role model – not once in a while, but every day.
Your salespeople pay 90 per cent more attention to what you do than what you say. A good leader knows how to say no and to be tough but fair.
If you don’t handle the responsibilities of your leadership position, you can’t expect your salespeople to live up to their job responsibilities.
Successful leaders motivate all the time, not just when performance is down. A leader should always strive for maximum people potential. The objective is to let the other person determine the means to grow and to take responsibility for their development.
Set the pace and strive to be the best leader you can be.