To be a successful manager you have to devise ways to bump sales up to a higher level, sustain them, and then do it again and again. This requires resourcefulness and an astute use of psychology. Smart managers realize at least a few things:
(1) Money is a motivator, but once a seller reaches a certain peak, it’s hard to use money, alone to get him to soar even higher.
(2) Status is a potent motivator, and as a reward, it costs surprisingly little. And the prospect of losing one’s status, is also a motivator.
(3) Most salespeople are competitive individuals. A manager has to channel this drive constructively, or it will be expressed destructively, jeopardizing the entire team.
(4) A successful manager will have many personalities. One of them is the face he shows in sales meetings. Another is one that is customized to each seller on his crew, and that one always remains private.
One of the best ways to light a fire under your salespeople is to light two fires at once.
Set up a quiet rivalry.
I’ve done it by taking the number two or three producer aside and saying:
“You know, Mary, I have a lot of confidence in your abilities, and I think, potentially you can outsell Lou, and frankly, I’d love to see that happen. It would be good for him!”
Check her response. If she smiles slyly, you’ve got a cohort in this little bout. If she gives you a deer-in-the-headlights look, then ask her, “What do you think it will take for you to do it?”
At this point, she should get the hint that you’re throwing down the gauntlet. She has been tapped to step into the ring, ready or not!
You can tell her exactly what it will take, day by day, for her to achieve the victory. Then, you can track it with her, informally, with smiles, nods, words of praise, and other short-term expedients.
Once the game is on, group dynamics and the ego of your sales leader will do the rest of the work.
You’ll feel like boxing promoter, Don King, after he has lined up a match involving titans. All you have to do is take your ringside seat, and count the purse!
By John Hester