Give the People What They Want

By Malcolm Fleschner

Is it true, as Cyndi Lauper used to sing back in the 80s, that money changes everything? Based on the cash incentive programs of many sales organizations, some would certainly say yes. But as sales trainer and consultant Kelley Robertson ( points out, money alone is often a lackluster motivator. He notes that when employees are asked to name the issues that drive their performance, the top three are typically respect, a sense of accomplishment and recognition.

So how can you use this information to get the most out of your hard-working sales staff? Robertson offers seven suggestions:

1. Get ‘Em Involved
People want to be involved in the success of the company for which they work. Let your employees know that you welcome their ideas and input for growing the business. Involved team members tend to buy in faster and resist less.

2. Communicate
In business, there is almost no such thing as "over communicating." Give your people regular updates on how business is progressing and how well they’re doing individually. Memos, emails, phone calls, meals and meetings offer a range of communication options for you to leverage. Keep your people apprised of current challenges, accept their feedback with a smile and correct behaviors you feel have become counterproductive. Too many employees in the corporate world never receive any feedback on their performance.

3. Recognize What’s Working
When you catch people doing things right, whether individually or as a team, let them know. Celebrate their success. Give reinforcement, offer awards, write about achievements in the company newsletter. Whenever possible, have a senior executive sign a note of thanks or congratulations.

Make a point to recognize someone every day. Post performance charts on the wall, throw impromptu celebratory pizza parties, pass out plaques or certificates – whatever you feel most comfortable with. The point is that you do it.

4. Elevate Expectations
Set ambitious, but realistically attainable goals and your team will likely work hard to achieve them. Communicate your goals in advance, and keep folks updated regularly on what progress they’re making.

5. Give Them What They Need
A surefire way to undermine your team’s efforts to achieve the goals you set is to neglect to give them the support and tools they need. Some of these tools may include equipment, internal support, inventory, marketing materials and training. Don’t let frustration build because you’ve inadequately outfitted your team members.

6. Address What’s Not Working
You owe it to your organization and all team members to manage individuals who aren’t performing up to expectations. Don’t ignore the problem and hope it will go away on its own. It never does, and the result is a loss of profitability, diminished morale and increased turnover. To deal with low performers, use the B.E.S.T. approach:

  • Begin with the situation. "Sam, when we conduct weekly sales meetings and you’re consistently late…"
  • Express the result. "…it causes problems because everyone is held to the same standard, and you’re not respecting that."
  • State the desired change. "In the future, I expect you to arrive and be ready for the meeting at 8:30 every Monday. This means you need to be in the front door by 8:20."
  • Tell them the consequence. "If this behavior isn’t corrected, I’ll be forced to take further action."

7. Lead With Your Actions
You set the tone for everyone who works for you. If you expect people to be motivated and enthusiastic, you need to be motivated and enthusiastic. Treat your people with dignity and respect, and that’s how they’ll treat each other.