“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them,
they hire already motivated people and inspire them.”
-Simon Simek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action
People who find out I do speeches as part of my work always ask, “Are you a motivational speaker?” I suspect that most speakers get asked that question.
I’m always quick to say, “Absolutely not!” Of course, I hope that every presentation I do is motivating! I hope people leave inspired to take action. But I am absolutely NOT a motivational speaker.
In fact, the longer I work with sales teams, the more I’m convinced that it’s damned near impossible to motivate anyone. People have to motivate themselves. The idea that some external force can make me want to succeed just isn’t true. People have to want success for themselves. And if they do want success, then great leaders, and yes occasionally a great training session, can help them get there quicker.
In the 26 years I’ve been working with AE’s, I’ve learned who gets the most from the sessions I do. It’s the people who were already good before I got there. The stars take info and use it because they were motivated to win before they walked in the door. I have helped a lot of “B’s” and “B+’s” to become “A’s.” I think I’ve helped a lot of “A’s” to make a lot more money and better serve their clients. But the list of “C’s” and “D’s” I’ve helped is a pretty short document. If they didn’t want to win before I arrived in their life, my message may get them excited for a few days, but it never leads to lasting change. What’s that line about the sinners never coming to church?
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE listening to motivational speakers. I still use some of my favorite Zig Ziglar lines. I quote the late Keith Harrell all the time. His line, “You can’t jump a dead battery with a dead battery” is one of my all-time favorites. But here’s the problem. Three days after Zig or Keith finished and left, I’d need another dose. When are they coming back? I NEED Zig!!!! Zig and other great motivational speakers can inspire me to be better, but ultimately, until I really want to be better, nothing long-term and sustainable is likely to happen.
So how does this impact you? I’m asked by sales managers all the time how they can “motivate” their team. Unfortunately, the only answer I can give is that you need to hire motivated people. Because you can’t motivate anyone. Besides, you can’t bring a motivational speaker into the sales meeting every week!!
A big mistake we make in business, usually caused by inconsistent recruiting, is hiring retreads. Talk about people who might not be motivated! Someone who wasn’t really successful at another station in town probably won’t be successful working for you, although our ego sometimes tries to convince us we’ll have a different outcome with that person.
So, where do you find motivated people? As I learn more effective interviewing skills, I’m starting to figure that out. What people have done in the past is a predictor. Better (and deeper) reference checks are essential. And, I’m a huge advocate for pre-employment testing. I would never hire anyone without testing. Interviewing has lots of pitfalls, especially for salespeople like us who are easily sold. But the great pre-hire tests help you determine how driven someone is and how much they want to win. When an applicant combines that level of drive with great empathy, he or she is an applicant you can turn into something special.
Bosses can’t motivate, but of course, they can surely de-motivate!! Many of us have worked for a boss who regularly took the air out of our balloons. Don’t be that person. If your style is “the beatings will continue until morale improves,” you’ll struggle to keep great people and you’ll have a much harder time attracting stars to work for you.
While we can’t motivate anyone, our job as a leader is to create a culture where highly motivated people want to do great work. That’s the “inspired” part of the Sinek quote that started this article. I can also provide people with the tools and training to win. In fact, that’s our responsibility as a leader.
Hire highly motivated people. Then have them work in a high-performing culture and give them the tools and coaching to win. That’s the magic.
I know a whole lot of those leaders, and I promise you their teams are amazing to watch. They have truly created a Sales Force, not just a sales staff!!
Stop trying to motivate your sales teams. It doesn’t work. Instead, focus on hiring motivated people and giving them what they need to win, as well as moving low-performing AE’s, who aren’t highly motivated, off your team.
That’s how you win in the new TV business.
Have a GSM or GM meeting in your future? Why not have Jim Doyle or John Hannon speak to your meeting about how to turn your sales staff into a Sales Force? We promise powerful, thought-provoking content customized to your company’s needs. Contact Jim Doyle at email@example.com or call 941-926-SELL.
We’re also taking reservations for our 2018 High Performance Sales Manager’s Boot Camp – January 28-30th in Tampa, FL. Do you know someone who could benefit from this high intensity training? Someone who would walk away saying what this LSM did after attending Boot Camp – “This was life changing in both my personal and professional life in many ways… But not in the motivational type of way. In a real-world, step-by-step, instructional action plan type of way!” Interested? Go to BOOTCAMP or contact Anne Fowler, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941-926-SELL (7355) for more info.