Poke, Prod and Promote Peak Performance

Edition: February 2002 - Vol 10 Number 02
Article#: 1171
Author: Anita Sirianni, The Professional Sales Coach
Do you ever feel like you were talking to a brick wall when trying to motivate your sales reps? Any manager, coach, or teacher knows the difficulty of getting people to perform better. It is one thing to get reps excited and energized at a sales meeting - but quite another to maintain their enthusiasm over the long haul. If you are trying to motivate your sales team or yourself, consider the following strategies that will promote better performance:

Picture the Possibilities
There are bumper stickers everywhere that call us to visualize world peace, hoping to inspire our actions and attitude. From global harmony to increased sales, visualization is an important step in realizing any goal. Begin by imagining your company as the industry leader. How would you attract and serve customers if you were #1? As the best in the business, how would your marketing strategy change? Would it alter your recruitment and hiring approach?

Treat a man as he appears to be, and you make him worse. But, treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.

Manage each representative like a superstar — for it is their potential. Encourage your team to see themselves at the top of the sales chart or accepting your company's highest honor. Ask each rep to describe what they could do differently to perform to their potential. Plant these seeds of motivation through visualization and sharing your positive expectation and reap the potential in your people.

Get Really Personal
As you introduce new sales goals, keep in mind, the channel every rep is tuned to: What's In It For Me? Most sales meetings and product launches miss the mark by focusing on company needs, marketing goals and product performance. If you want your team to get excited about your initiatives, tell them how your offering will benefit them in a personal way. Create realistic incentives that are just out of reach but not out of sight. Most reps will move mountains with the right tools, training and incentives. Keep in mind, Winners are ex-losers that just got passionate. For enthusiasm to stick, keep in mind: the more personal the vision, the more proficient the performance.

Praise Progress
Motivation that leads to peak performance boils down to this basic formula:

Acknowledgment +
Accomplishment =

People are driven by an innate desire to make a difference by their work or talents. As a result, they will work hard to accomplish the results you acknowledge. By recognizing the accomplishments your employees make you will promote exponential increases in individual and company performance. One easy way to do this is to follow Tom Peters' advice, catch your people doing something right. Be generous with praise. Look for ways to acknowledge people for their initiative and contributions. If their efforts fall short of your expectations, use the Stroke and Kick Approach. Stroke by complimenting something good in their actions then Kick with gentle encouragement toward improved performance. For example, Jerry, your closing ratio is the best in the company (Stroke) but, what can we do to improve the number of calls you make? (Kick) When excellence becomes tradition there is no end to greatness. Praise is a powerful tool to pull people to higher levels of performance and productivity.

Show Me the Money
Salespeople are motivated by money and the opportunity to make more. Financial incentives tied to achievement are another way of acknowledging success and the company's intention to reward achievement. In fact, money provides a double incentive: increased income and the recognition of accomplishment. It is important to tie rewards to superior work performance — performance that requires a stretch. Special bonus rewards received without an extra effort create a false sense of accomplishment and entitlement. These conditions are tough to maintain over the long haul. Your reps will rise to higher levels of expected performance and will work hard to reach attractive rewards. Base your incentive plan on the old German proverb: He who likes cherries soon learns to climb!

The Ball Goes in the Cup
In golf, landing on the green isn't enough to win the match. If you want your people to achieve specific goals, you must clearly communicate your expectations and ideals for success. Many sales managers' drop the ball by passing out quotas and failing to provide the coaching or training necessary to reach them. NFL Coach Don Shula promotes peak performance by ... “a strong set of operating beliefs and principles.... You won't be a successful leader if you don't have a clear idea of what you believe, where you're headed, and what you are willing to go to the mat for.” The more vivid the vision, the more real the results. Be sure to communicate your expectations beyond the numbers and provide the support necessary for reaching your goals. Leading your sales team to reach higher levels of achievement starts with you.

No Train No Gain!
“We're good because we work harder than anybody else.”
--Walter O'Malley, former Major League Owner

Winners aren't born that way — they are trained that way. Give your people the tools and training to reach their potential. Provide the best training you can afford. Consider it an investment that will pay higher dividends in improved performance, better customer service and higher sales. High performance companies provide a culture that attracts, acknowledges and rewards people to rise to their potential. Creating this culture is shaped from the top down. Use these ideas and strategies to discover the superstars within your company waiting to shine!

Professional Sales Coach, Anita Sirianni, is the President of Ansir International, which provides sales training and consulting to many of the leading corporations. She has more than 15 years of sales success in the healtcare industry. She can be reached at: 1-800-471-2619. Or on the Web at: www.anitasirianni.com