Re-Spirit Your Reps

By Heather Baldwin

The economy is on the rebound. Now’s the time to re-spirit your sales force, says Richard Whiteley, principal of the Whiteley Group ( and a speaker on the subject of sales management. Re-spiriting is about reinvigorating reps to operate at a higher level by taking a more internal approach to sales. By focusing on the elements of intention, truth telling and performing in the moment, Whiteley says external factors such as closing sales and making quota will take care of themselves. Here’s how.

Understand your intentions. There is enormous communicative power in our intentions. “Sales professionals who intend, with every question and recommendation, to add value for customers wind up creating a you-first energy that builds trust, breaks down reservations and sets a foundation for moving forward,” says Whiteley. It’s a simple concept, but tough to execute because it requires letting go of ego and pressures to make the numbers. Ask reps to do a self-check before each meeting by asking themselves: What are my true intentions at this time? Am I mostly thinking of what I need or am I focusing on my customers?

Tell the truth. Imagine a prospect is waffling between your solution and a competitor’s. The competitor has promised delivery in 2 weeks. You promised delivery in 3 weeks and are fairly confident it will take the competition that long as well. Do you lie and say you can probably deliver in 2 weeks? Doing so may have the short-term advantage of getting you the sale, says Whiteley, but in the long run lying will lead to lost orders, lost clients, lost referrals and the loss of self-respect. Telling the truth, even when the truth is bad news, is the fastest route to goodwill and relationship equity with clients.

Perform in the moment. Before this year’s Tour de France, everyone was talking about whether Lance Armstrong could win a record-breaking sixth Tour. But whenever he was asked about it, Armstrong said he couldn’t focus on that milestone. To win, he said, he would need to focus on each stage and hope the win would take care of itself. Salespeople need to do the same thing, says Whiteley. Too often they’re focused on the past (I really botched the first meeting with this prospect) or the future (I need to close this sale to make my August numbers). Re-spiriting requires reps to perform fully in the present because that’s the only time they can offer solutions and earn the right to advance in the call.