Psychological Motivation in Sales
One of the most practical things for those in the sales world is to understand the ways that you are motivated, as well as the way your staff is motivated. Leigh Ashton discusses how to motivate salespeople in this sales pro webinar, hosted by John Golden.
How Are Salespeople Motivated?
Knowing how the individuals in your sales team are motivated is crucial to a high performing team. Not everyone on the sales team is motivated in the same way. One of the biggest mistakes that sales leaders make is that they try to motivate everyone in their team the same way. For example, a manager might send out group emails as a way of encouraging the staff. This might be really helpful for half of the team but could actually upset or demotivate the other half. Part of successfully motivating the sales staff means understanding the ways in which people are motivated.
In order to evaluate the ways that your sales staff is motivated, it’s helpful to ask a series of questions. The first question is: “What do you love about your job?” Then, whatever their answer is, ask: “why is that important to you?” Continue the same form of questioning. Whatever their answer to the second question was, ask them, “why is that important to you?” Take that answer, and ask again, “why is that important to you?” This tells you how you are motivated in your job, and gives you a deep, underlying meaning behind the initial response. It can also tell you if you are motivated by moving towards, or moving away.
Moving Towards or Moving Away:
Motivation stems from a desire to move towards something that you love and want, or a desire to move away from something that you don’t want or would cause you distress. Most people have a firm preference for how they are motivated, but some individuals fall exactly in the middle. The way that you are psychologically programmed in terms of motivation is also context dependent. You could want to move towards something in your job, but then want to move away from things in your personal life. Context matters.
Impact on Selling:
The way that salespeople are motivated impacts the way that they sell to customers. If someone is motivated by moving towards a goal or solution, they will also sell that way. When pitching to their customers, they will tend to be more solution-focused, and less problem-focused. If salespeople are motivated by moving away, they will likely tend towards highlighting the negative impact that the problem has on the buyer. This has a huge impact on selling. If a “towards” salesperson is communicating with an “away from” buyer, or vice versa, they may not communicate well or spark agreement because of the ways in which they are motivated. Not only do you need to know what your salespeople’s motivational tendencies are, but also what the prospects and client’s motivational preferences are. Are they going to by solutions? Or are they going to buy problem-free options?
A “Towards” Salesperson:
Motivating a “towards” salesperson is about making them totally aware of what they are going to get as a result of the action they are going to take. Consider the carrot and stick in front of the donkey as an analogy for a “towards” salesperson. The donkey moves towards the carrot, towards the incentive, and is very focused on the carrot, and only the carrot. This lazer focus is good in some instances, but there is a tendency for these kinds of salespeople to miss things that are going on around them. They are likely to do whatever it takes in order to get the incentive, and aren’t reflective or intentional about learning from their mistakes. These salespeople don’t need much management, they just need to see the incentive, and they will be on their way.
A “Towards” Buyer:
A “towards” client or prospect, however, must be convinced of what they are going to get as a result of the relationship with the salesperson. You can talk about what your product is going to do, but if you talk more about what they personally are going to get out of the relationship, that is going to be much more inspiring for them, and make them much more motivated to listen, talk, and discuss options. When communicating with a “towards” prospect, use their language. They’re always forward thinking, so language should be forward oriented.
An “Away” Salesperson:
If you take the donkey analogy again, they are frightened by being hit by the stick. That will prompt them into action, because they don’t want their sales manager giving the a hard time for not getting their figures, or they don’t want to have too little money, or they don’t want to not be successful. In the way a “towards” person is moving forward, an “away” person is still moving forward, but their focus is behind them. They want to move away from the pain. If you’re interacting with someone who is an “away” person, instead of talking about the incentives, reminding them of what they don’t want to do is going to motivate them. To a “towards” sales leader, that might sound like a very negative act, but for an “away” salesperson, it’s not negative at all; rather it springs them into action. It highlights the pain they are going to feel if they don’t take action, and enhancing the unpleasant realities of what happens if they don’t do something.
One of the best ways to ensure you are motivating the entire sales team is to integrate tactics that relate with both “away from” and “towards” salespeople. You can ramp up anyone’s motivation, as long as you know what their psychological motivation is. What’s not important is if you can motivate them or not, but rather how you go about motivating them based on each individual’s preferences.
About our Host:
John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.