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April 2019

For a More Motivated Sales Team Avoid These Three Management Mistakes

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Keep Your Team in Camelot

When I was beginning my career as a sales manager, someone gave me the advice to ‘keep my team in Camelot.’ It would be some years later before I fully understood the meaning of those words – but now I live by them.

And I’m going to tell you the extraordinary wisdom behind them in just a minute.

But first, let’s talk about motivation.

As a sales manager, your most important task is to keep your team motivated. All while making tough business decisions and working with less than perfect circumstances every day – it’s just part of the deal.

Simultaneously, the culture, engagement, and performance of your entire team are squarely in your hands. You are directly responsible for establishing an environment that enables everyone’s ‘A-Game’ to come forward.

And here’s what you’re up against…

A 2018 Forbes article revealed  57% of Sales Reps Missed Their Quotas Last Year, and the trend is increasing – that’s a sobering statistic.

So under this challenging reality, how do you ensure your team keeps a winning mindset and has the best possibility for success?

Here’s some help. Build a high-functioning team by avoiding these disastrous management mistakes that are guaranteed to zap morale and motivation.

Avoid These Management Mistakes to Build a High-Performance Sales Team

#1 Avoid Ruling Through Fear

There are two ways to motivate people: through fear or desire.

While the ‘carrot and stick’ approach was once thought to achieve both simultaneously, it is now recognized as a method that does not get lasting results.

If fear is an element of your management style, any success you achieve will not be sustainable over time.

That’s because long-term fear creates negativity and resentment which reduces morale and with it, productivity.

What’s more…

Fear-based management promotes a ‘turnstile’ of employees, which creates a poor experience for both you and your clients.

Your clients get frustrated by repeatedly having to teach ‘their business’ to your newest Account Executive.

And you repeatedly have to find, hire, and train new team members, so they fully understand your products, services, and methodologies — all of which is time-consuming and expensive.

Instead of ruling with fear, create an atmosphere of trust. Encourage your team to share ideas, and empower them to make decisions. Create a culture that embraces mistakes as learning opportunities and the potential for greater success.

If you’ve come up through the ranks of typical sales organizations, this will be hard for you… but the effort to make this change will pay off.

#2 Avoid Moving the Goalposts

Mixing things up and creating chaos is an actual management strategy in some organizations.

The theory is that keeping employees guessing about what’s coming next keeps them on their toes and motivates them to work harder.

In fact, the opposite is true…

Continually shifting priorities, goals or performance expectations is a drain on employee morale and a quick way to ensure the decline of on-the-job happiness.

And that, of course, kills focus, trust, and productivity.

Rather than chaotic and ever-evolving objectives, create and communicate realistic goals, then stick to them.

#3 Avoid Using Money as a Motivator

Money makes the world go ‘round, and it’s logical to think of money as the most appropriate and valuable thing you could offer your team to motivate them.

But this could be a mistake.

Edward Deci, Professor of Psychology and author of, Intrinsic Motivation, released a study with his colleagues that turns that notion upside down.

They found that when they only offered employees financial rewards, motivation dropped. In fact, for every increase in the amount offered, there was a corresponding 25% decrease in motivation.

The more unattainable the reward seemed, the more challenging it was for employees to stay motivated. So keep the goals realistic and attainable.

Another study found that the most powerful motivating factors for employees are related to intrinsic values, like feeling a sense of belonging, recognition for achievement, the opportunity for growth, increased responsibility, and appreciation for their contributions.

The Case for Sales Performance Coaching

More companies are taking notice as research continues to reveal the undeniable benefits of adopting a coaching approach to sales management.

And with good reason.

Consider the results published in the 2018 edition of The International Journal of Sales Transformation – When combined with analytics to focus the coaching, SAP quantifies the ‘Coaching Uplift’ as:

  • 40% increase in opportunities created
  • 31% increase in accounts won

It’s clear that a coaching approach to sales management works.

Cultivating a Coaching Culture… an environment that feels safe and encourages expression, ideas, and participation without fear of consequences is what great sales managers do.

And that brings me back to those wise words about Camelot…

You probably remember that Camelot was the location of King Arthur’s Court.

Well, with the presence of King Arthur and the Knights of The Roundtable, the people of Camelot felt safe. They trusted that they were protected and they did not fear outside aggression.

Because of this, Camelot symbolizes the epitome of idyllic happiness. A place where there is no judgment, diversity of thought is valued, and collaboration and creativity thrive.

To ‘keep your people in Camelot’ means to keep them in a world where there are no problems, only opportunities for personal growth and team success.

And that’s the atmosphere that keeps teams engaged and motivated.

Here’s the key takeaway…

Establish a relationship of trust and authenticity – and understand the motivating factors of each member of your team.

That’s when you’ll begin to experience the year-on-year value of adopting a coaching culture.

If you’re a sales manager caught between corporate expectations and creating a culture of coaching – we can help.

At Leap Dialogues, we’ll help you navigate corporate politics and get on the right track to realize success. We’ll work with you to identify and address anything that’s holding you or your team back. The future is yours to seize.

Ready to embrace your full potential as a sales manager?

Find out what Leap Dialogues can do for you.