By Pat Hinds
When I got my first sales managers job I thought I could inspire my sales staff with great speeches and dynamic sales plans. I had played football for 15 years (since I was a child until I was in my late twenties) and over that period I had been inspired by many pre-practice and pre-game speeches. As I changed my career from football to sales I gravitated to sales motivators like Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy to help inspire me in my new career.
Zig Ziglar – Since 1970, he has traveled over five million miles across the world delivering powerful life improvement messages, cultivating the energy of change.
Brian Tracy – Brian’s goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined.
As a first time sales manager I can remember standing in front of white boards addressing my sales team outlining the game plan and using every cliché in the book to get the team inspired to adopt the plan.
Inspire – To infuse into the mind; to communicate to the spirit; to convey, as by a divine or supernatural influence; to disclose preternaturally; to produce in, as by inspiration.
As time would pass I was amazed and dismayed when I would meet sales people who were not executing the plan; my reaction was to get in front of the white board and give the sales person an inspirational speech. After a few years of having moderate success in inspiring people, I came to the conclusion that you could not motivate people and the key to being a successful sales manager was to only hire sales people that showed they are self motivated. In theory that sounds like a good plan, the challenge was the fact I am not a mind reader; as a result I was often fooled by people that appeared motivated and were not.
If we fast forward 15 years to the present day I have found the key to getting the most out of a sales team is not divine inspiration, but slow and steady behaviour modification and the best way to administer behaviour modification is through the use of technology, incentives and training.
Behaviour modification is the use of empirically demonstrated behaviour change techniques to improve behaviour, such as altering an individual’s behaviours and reactions to stimuli through positive and negative reinforcement of adaptive behaviour.
My first experience of behaviour modification was working on vehicle tracking solutions in the cellular industry. Installing a vehicle tracking solution has many benefits including making employees better drivers. In every instance driving infractions were immediately reduced after the install of a vehicle tracking solution.
Organizations that employ sales teams can improve sales productivity through the adoption of sales force automation (SFA) technology. SFA provides the framework for sales behaviour modification allowing managers to build a culture for sales people that is results based while providing instant feedback to management on the progress of the plan.
Brain Tracy and Zig Ziglar still have their place in working with sales teams, but technology, SFA and sales person modification are a better long term solution for building long term sales success.