Motivating Complacent Sales Reps
Question. How can I help an experienced salesperson regain his interest in the job?
Answer: It sounds like you have someone who is just going through the motions. That can be deadly for the career of a salesperson, and can be as detrimental to the company.
One of the unique challenges of a career in sales arises out of one of the unique fringe benefits of being a salesperson. That is that salespeople have the opportunity to decide what they do with almost every minute of every day. Freedom!
However, with that freedom comes a great responsibility to make good decisions. It’s one of the biggest — if not the biggest — challenges to the job of the salesperson. That’s why so many sales managers concern themselves with “motivating” salespeople. If the salesperson isn’t motivated to do as well as he can, then he naturally defaults to an uninspired, reactive mode of decision-making. And that brings us to the question at hand. If a salesperson has lost interest, he is not motivated, and that means that he’ll default to reactive, “fill-in-the-day with unimportant stuff” mode. And that means reduced sales production for the salesperson and for the company.
Here are some options for distributors to consider:
1. It may be that the salesperson is experiencing some adversity in his personal life that has caused him to lose interest in the job. If that’s the case, then you’ll need to help him to realize that, and develop a plan to rectify it. Have lunch with him, probe into the issues, and see if you can uncover the cause of the problem.
2. It may be that the challenge has gone out of the job. So, put some challenge back into it. Sit down with the salesperson and create a set of performance goals that will stretch the salesperson and cause him to push beyond his comfort zones to attain them. Set some motivating rewards for the attainment of those goals.
Another way to put some challenge back into the job is to make a significant change in the accounts for which he is responsible. Trade half his accounts with another territory, thereby forcing him to learn the new customers and stretching him out of his comfort zone.
3. Another approach is to find some responsibilities for this salesperson above and beyond just selling to his customers. You may want to bring him into decisions about new products, or have him second interview prospective salespeople, or solicit his opinion on key moves that the company is considering. If you can find some contribution he can make to the company above and beyond the sales dollars, you’ll make him feel like a more valuable part of the company.
4. Finally, it may be the salesperson doesn’t realize the extent or the seriousness of his problem. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with him. Clearly identify the problem and the consequences of it for him and the company. Then work with him to develop a specific plan to resolve the issue. Finally, meet regularly with him to assess his progress and to hold him accountable.
Which of these approaches works best for you depends on your knowledge of this person. Choose the approach that feels best. Good luck.
Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and seven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine, and visit his blog. For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.
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