Not everyone is motivated the same way

I am a very competitive person and really get motivated when I see someone out performing me in a task or goal; this is just how I am made up.  As a sales manager it is our job to keep our sales staff motivated and challenged to meet the goals of the team and the organization. To be able to do this effectively is a vital part of our job. 

As a sales manager I like to think of myself as a cheerleader, a person who is on the sidelines yelling and screaming when you are doing things well, and spitting out Fight Songs and Chants to motivate you to perform well.   This is just how I am. 

As sales managers we all know how challenging it can be to keep the troops motivated and inspired to accomplish the desired goals.  So something that I would do is create daily challenges, weekly challenges, mini-goals, all sorts of Score Boards that I thought would motivate people to do better, because like me, I thought that all people would be motivated by this. 

I can remember the very day, (not the exact day) but the individual and situation that taught me this very important lesson that not all people are motivated the same way.  As I have stated throughout this book, I inherited a team in my first position as a sales manager.  One of the employees I inherited was actually a person who I started working with about two and half years prior.  This person actually interviewed me during my initial interview to join the company and their sales force.  Once I started my position he served as a mentor to me.  When I say mentor, I really mean someone who could tell me how to do something and how not do something, etc.  We worked side by side everyday for two and half years.  Now keep in mind this person was twice my age as well. 

After spending two and half years working with this person, you would assume, I would know what made them tick, what got them excited, what motivated them. For god’s sake, this person actually came to my mother’s house for a holiday dinner, I should know them pretty well. 

So I get promoted to run the outside sales team for our company, and then eventually inherit the team that they were still on.  So now this person reported to me.  I did what most new sales managers do, which is have a meeting and let the team know what the expectations are and how they will be held accountable.  This new team that included this person knew exactly what I was going to do, because they had watched it for the last year or so and they worked with me for two and half years side by side. 

I started incorporating my philosophies and processes into this new team, it was a smooth transition.  This person was what I call a middle 60 percenter.  I will go into this later in the book.  We all know how it is when our goals must be met for the quarter, year-end, or whatever your sales cycle consists of.  The pressure gets stronger and usually as a sales manager you will actually try to do more to motivate the team.

In one of the daily or weekly Score Cards that I did, this person was really not making any effort to compete.  I was not very happy about it, considering in their role what they did was very vital to our sales team.  So I printed off the results of the challenges along with some other reports.  We Sales Managers have lots of reports.  I pulled this individual to the side and said to them, “Look at these results; you are not competing very well with your colleagues.”  Their response are words I will never forget.  They said “Brian, I don’t care how well I am competing with my colleagues, I know what I am doing is within your expectations you have set.”  The second half of the comment is something I will address later in this book, but the first half of the comment is the real lesson for me.  “Brian I don’t care how well I am competing with my colleagues”.  These 12 words are words that resonated with me that day and still continue to do so.

First of all fundamental part of leadership is to know your people, which is a lesson I learned, but secondly, I made a decision that I would not measure that person against their colleagues any more.  They could care less, if I compared them to others, they would actually get upset. This was a really valuable lesson to me as a new leader.  Just because I was motivated by scoreboards and challenges and things like this, it didn’t mean others would be as well.  This individual eventually left the company for another position.  

Learn what motivates the sales people you lead.  Don’t assume, just because they are sales people, that they are motivated by scoreboards and challenges and beating the other sales people.  


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