Want To Motivate Your Sales Force? Try Coaching
By Sonda R. Frattini
Anyone whos been in a position of sales management has, at one time or another, been advised (probably even instructed) to “manage to results.” But what does this really mean?
Can you manage results that have already happened? And wouldnt managing results mean missing the opportunity to make a difference? Could these well-meaning advisors really mean managing people to achieve results?
The term managing results (or managing people to achieve results) raises a lot of questions–so many, in fact, that it warrants a trip to the dictionary. Here is what Webster has to say about the word manage:
Now, if someone were to say to you, “I am going to handle and direct you by altering you through manipulation,” would you find that statement especially motivating?
I submit that most adults wouldnt find that statement motivating–especially adults with independent, entrepreneurial spirits. In fact, over the years Ive spent coaching insurance and financial professionals, Ive learned that just the reverse is true. Most adults will act like teenagers if you try to manage them; they will do precisely the opposite of what you tell them to do!
So whats the alternative? How do you motivate independent, entrepreneurial adults to get results? Ive found that the answer starts with asking questions–drilling down to who they really are and what they really want. Get to know their personality, communication style, values system, and what really motivates them–then using that information to help them identify whats blocking them from achieving results. If they can identify where theyre going wrong, they can commit to taking action steps to rectify the problem.
This process of asking questions, seeking answers, and gaining understanding is often called coaching. Unlike managing–where you (try to) force a person to see how their behaviors might be affecting their performance–coaching allows you to help them see, on their own, why certain behaviors or activities may be negatively influencing their performance.
For example, when I began working more closely with my companys agency middle management program, I instituted a system of weekly teleconferences with each of the managers in the program. Those in the group who were meeting the program requirements tended to view the teleconferences in a positive manner. For them, it was like I was recognizing them for their results, which, in turn, served as a motivating force.
Those who werent validating the program requirements, however, handled the calls quite differently. Initially, these managers saw the weekly phone calls as a threat. There were thoughts that “the boom” was being lowered–even though we never talked about production numbers.