The Secret Sauce for Sales Growth – Confidence and Motivation

 The Secret Sauce for Sales Growth   Confidence and MotivationWhat are you deliberately doing to build the confidence and motivation of your salespeople?
If you find it difficult to answer this question take a step back and think about the implications.
Anyone who genuinely understands sales appreciates it’s a “head game”. As sales managers and leaders we all need to take responsibility and develop strategies for this incredibly important aspect of the business development puzzle.

Whilst motivation matters, confidence is perhaps even more important in determining whether a salesperson is equipped to execute the activities required for sales success. You may be asking, “What’s the difference between confidence and motivation?”

Building motivation in a salesperson is about creating a desire to take action. It’s about building a belief that taking a certain action will lead to an outcome that is positive. It’s also about building a belief that failure to take an action will lead to a negative consequence.

Building confidence in a salesperson is all about building the belief that they are capable of successfully executing a desired action. It requires coaching them to believe they can successfully execute each part of a complex selling process.

A salesperson could be highly motivated to make 20 calls each day because their environment provides easy to use lists, a great phone system that automatically captures activity in the CRM. Maybe there’s a public leader board showing who has made the most calls, there’s a sales manager checking in on their progress throughout the day and there’s a prize for first to 100 connections each week.  But, in that environment despite all the motivation there might also be salespeople that are NOT confident because they don’t believe they have a the skills to effectively connect with prospects, or strategies for HOW to execute each part of the call. Perhaps they are told to just “get on the phone”. Perhaps the sales manager doesn’t make any calls themselves or role model a great call. In other words there is very little training.

Here are five thoughts on building both confidence AND motivation together, because as sales managers and leaders we need to understand the connection between this and sales growth.

 The Secret Sauce for Sales Growth   Confidence and Motivation# 1 – Analyse and Share Your Wins

One attribute we’ve consistently identified in a more successful sales culture is the tendency to spend more time and energy on analysing wins than losses. There’s also a tendency to interrogate success to a high level of detail around things like how the opportunity was initiated, how the relationship was built, how problems were identified and solved, how that translated into the solution and the proposal, and a host of other elements that drive successful sales. There’s often reluctance on the part of the sales manager to interrogate. We need to get over this because sharing and understanding successes builds confidence in both the successful salesperson and the team. We use Salesforce Chatter to share wins and promote behaviour where communication flows naturally through teams.

# 2 – Coach “How To” and “Why” to Go Beyond “What”

Nobody needs a highly paid sales manager to just tell their sales team WHAT they need to do. I can hire a graduate to go through a list and make demands for more meetings, more calls, more referrals and more sales. Telling salespeople WHAT they need to do creates little value because most salespeople know WHAT it is that they need to do to be more successful.

The first problem is that they haven’t built the confidence required to believe they have the capability to execute WHAT they need to do. In our experience the root of this problem is that they don’t know HOW to do it. Sales managers are so guilty of assuming salespeople know HOW to do things like ask for a referral and maybe even spend time avoiding these coaching conversations because they don’t know HOW to train the skill required!

The second problem is that the salesperson doesn’t have a compelling enough reason on WHY they must develop the skill for WHAT needs to be done. Sales managers and organisations need to spend more time developing plans and aligning rewards and consequences to motivate action. Every sales manager should be challenged to reflect on each salesperson in their team and ask “how far is this person willing to go to get results as a result of the way I coach and lead them?”

# 3 – Role Model and Share Best Practice

This is a simplification for something that can be very complex but “confidence” is at the core of what Bandura called self-efficacy (the self-belief in your ability to execute an action successfully). Bandura’s research shows that a person is more likely to build self-efficacy in an environment where they see and experience others successfully executing the desired behaviour. In the sales environment this means the person coaching should be able to role model the desired behaviour. If your sales managers can’t execute the desired behaviours then you either need to train them or replace them!

Another way to build confidence is to have those that are successful share their strategies on HOW they execute desired skills successfully so that others can benefit from the sharing of best practice and what actually works out in the field. This is why I’m so passionate about “sales conversations” taking place in sales meetings and ensuring that the most successful salespeople in the team are active participants. Also make sure the people that need confidence are spending time out in the field with your top performers.

# 4 – Chunk it Down

When we become overwhelmed we become helpless and this emotion is the polar opposite of feeling confident. Bandura’s research showed that the number one strategy for building self-efficacy (confidence) is “enactive self-mastery”. This simply means that if you can break a complex task down into small pieces and develop the salespersons skills one piece at a time. Think about something like going to a networking event. The skills required to be successful include:

  • How to engage with another human that you don’t know.
  • How to keep the discussion flowing and build greater rapport as it continues. 
  • How to create a credible reason for re-connecting. 
  • How to communicate with them to book that meeting after the event

So there are actually 4 sub-skills you need to develop to build confidence in networking and you will be significantly more successful if you break the complex skill into smaller pieces and train them one at a time.

 The Secret Sauce for Sales Growth   Confidence and Motivation# 5 – Align Your Rewards and Consequences

As Jim Collins notes in “Good to Great”, success requires you to hire motivated people and then make sure you don’t de-motivate them! Things that kill motivation are a lack of alignment and conflict between the desired sales actions and the rewards/ consequences systems within the business. Maybe you want your people to do more business development with new prospects but the KPIs focus more on meetings with existing customers. Maybe there’s little recognition for bringing on a new customer and severe consequences for losing an existing customer. The point is that you need to consider how aligned your rewards and consequences are before you try to change sales behaviours because these forces will often remove a salesperson’s motivation to take action, and destroy their confidence that this action is genuinely desired by the organisation.

Now is a great time to take out a little time and challenge yourself to understand how much attention you are giving to building the confidence and motivation of your salespeople. It’s a critical skill set and one of the biggest drivers of sales success.

   The Secret Sauce for Sales Growth   Confidence and Motivation

 The Secret Sauce for Sales Growth   Confidence and MotivationDean Mannix is a Founding Director and Principal Consultant at SalesITV – Australia’s leading online sales and customer service training company. He has over 20 years of legal, finance, sales and management experience and is regarded as one of Australia’s leading performance consultants. Connect with him on LinkedIn. 

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