Recently, I asked one of my coaching program participants—a sales leadership guy who was struggling—what he thought his most essential leadership responsibilities were. He replied confidently, “That’s easy…to hire, train and motivate people. I just keep my head down and do that.”
It’s not that my Baby Boomer coaching client isn’t competent. He’s a smart hard working dude, but somewhere, he’s being fed a set of generic marching orders. I hear this mantra all the time. I even used to bark out stuff like that myself. “Hey man, just recruit as many people as you can, train the heck out of them and keep them pumped up.”
It sounds like the right answer. It may have been the right answer back in the day—a million years ago—but in fact, in today’s landscape, it’s a little bit off. The people we hire for sales positions have evolved over the years. Millennials are smarter, Boomers are smarter, and the (in between) Gen X people are smarter. They come into our gig knowing more (or at least thinking they do), asking more questions and challenging most of what they are told. The directive, “Hire, train and motivate”, has become an outdated directive. The face of our workforce has changed and some leaders have not modified their thinking and strategies to create the culture necessary to effectively move our organization forward.
In addition, this is a vague command. It’s imprecise. It gives a new sales manager the impression that all you have to do (literally) are those three things and you’ll succeed as a leader.
But if you blindly and mindlessly do those three things without really understanding why you are doing them, with whom you should do them with and how you can effectively accomplish them, you will have poor results and become frustrated.
I’ve just invested four months teaching leaders why and how all of this stuff works during our Leading With Influence master class, but please allow me to break down the three edicts individually so that I can point out the fallacy of each. If you follow this command literally, with no further examination or thought, you will spin your wheels and I don’t want you to do that.
You can recruit until your heart’s content. Go ahead, hire ALL of them. 18 to 80, blind crippled and crazy. If they can fog a mirror, then order them up some business cards.
You know that doesn’t work and the reason you know that is because you’ve been just hiring people for years with lackluster retention results.
While I’m not suggesting you slow your flow of candidates, I’m simply suggesting you become hyper-focused on the profile of the person that makes it in your business—the kind of person you want representing your brand. Have you ever listed out the 3 – 5 primary characteristics it takes for a salesperson to succeed in your particular business?
Why don’t you try it?
Then after you’ve identified those key qualities, develop a mindset of INTENTION. Intentionally set out to attract that kind of person—the RIGHT kind of person versus signing up whoever happens to cross your path. Just hiring a lot of people isn’t your job, however, hiring enough of the right kind of people—people that have the key qualities that match what’s needed to succeed in your industry—is your job!
“Just hiring a lot of people isn’t your job, however, hiring enough of the right kind of people IS your job!”
Oh…and one more thing…
If you don’t take the time to ask the right questions during the first or second interviews in order to determine that there is some sort of logical fit, the best candidates—the ones you really want—will sense that you’re flinging mud against the wall. They’ll voluntarily exit your interview process. And they won’t tell you why.
Training is overrated.
And we overdo it, and overuse it.
We think it will solve all of our problems…”If I just got better at training. If I train them harder—longer—give them more training…”
You only have 24 hours in your day. You should sleep 8 of them and you should also probably have a life outside of work. Our work and personal hours are limited and precious. Many sales managers have the responsibility of personal production to go along with all of the other expected tasks.
We’re spread real thin!
If you don’t carefully think through:
- WHO you should train (and why)
- …and WHAT specifically you should train them on first…
…you could drown in a futile hand-holding process!
Training EVERYONE in the same way (and in the same volume) doesn’t work and it greatly diffuses our effectiveness. If you have strong filters built into your on-boarding system, you would be able to determine who’s ready to accept and apply your training now, hence, you could train more selectively and focus your classroom and field time on the right people.
If you read into this, I’m actually telling you that you should only spend your time training people that are ready to go to work NOW. In addition, you should only train them in very narrow areas during the initial 30 – 60 days you’re with them to determine if they qualify to move on.
If you train a brand new person on EVERY phase of your sales process from day 1—beginning to end—without first determining if they can take direction and actually get the time and attention of the target decision makers you are going after, then you are Cra-Cra!
Why in the world would you squander your precious time training a new person on the presentation, closing process, delivery, etc., if they have ZERO ability to establish appointments with qualified decision makers in volume?
I’ve been saying this for years…
“If they can’t set appointments in volume with qualified decision makers, they are no good to you, your organization or themselves.”
Make sure you have a person that is ready to go to work NOW and then spend your initial training time in this narrow area. Make sure they can get the time and attention of target prospects. If they CAN, then continue to advance their training in other key areas of the sales process. If they CAN’T, then conduct a formal coaching session and determine what the problem is and fix it. If the problem isn’t fixable, then disinvite them from your program and move on.
Wow. Many leaders get real sideways on this one. Simply stated, if we think we can “motivate” anyone, we’re foolish.
Motivation is an INTERNAL job, not an external one.
The blowing of smoke up the rear end of a salesperson may have worked in the 80s, 90s, or 00s, but it certainly doesn’t work for the sales force of today. Much has been written about Millennials, how they act, react, think, what drives them, but it’s not only Millennials. If you’ve thrown around money, trips and flashy merchandise in order to motivate people, then, no doubt, you’ve learned that it may only boost production temporarily, but it doesn’t change behavior. Ultimately, after the contest is over, everything goes back to the way it was. So you’re trying to externally motivate a team of people but the truth is your organizational culture is probably flawed. You should be fixing that problem versus blowing smoke and trying to externally pump people up.
People want to be understood. They want to know that you care. They actually want to tell you what motivates them, but you haven’t asked, because you’re not focused on the individual people that make up your team. You are focused on driving numbers, but you fall short and you’re frustrated and you think that you can do something externally to motivate them. But you can’t. You spend time, energy and money trying to pump up the team—and it’s exhausting.
True motivation comes from within!
Instead of a bunch of external hype, here’s what you can do to create a culture where people become motivated:
- Genuinely connect with them
- Invest the time to actually learn WHY they’re in your business
- Develop trust by doing the above and also going the extra mile for them
- Use your influence to remind them what they want and the exact effort it’s going to take to get there
Again, you can’t motivate anyone. But if you have gained their trust and have some influence in their life you can inspire them to identify their internal motivations, and then you can fan those flames!
“You can inspire them to identify their internal motivations, and then you can fan those flames.”
If you still believe that you can mindlessly, “Hire”, “Train” and “Motivate” and those robotic actions alone will automatically result in great organizational success, then good luck with that.
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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on the roles of direct selling, entrepreneurialism and leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his platform, www.joebuzzello.com and The CAP Equation©.