People read more about motivation in management schools than inspiration. Many sales managers strive to learn how to motivate salespeople. They sincerely want to learn how to motivate them to reach sales goals, to fill out paperwork, to follow a sales process, etc. Good managers spend much of their time on motivational actions. Often, they do not learn how to inspire.
From 5th century BC until now, many teachers have provided instructions for the motivation of people. In the twentieth century, these theories swept around people like B.F. Skinner and Pavlov’s dog. Remember, ring a bell and the person salivates, if they have been conditioned to do so. The dog did and so will a person.
Motivation often involves thinking about incentives. Or, it means striving to stimulate others into wanting to do something. It eventually turns into control – how to control another person.
We need to understand motivation for one very important reason only – and it’s not to control another person. It is to set up environments in which people can learn, grow, and thrive. We need to understand different types of personalities so that we coach and teach in a manner in which others learn best. For example, children learn new information differently – so do adults.
We need to communicate with people in a manner in which they trust us and hear us – really hear us. Usually, that involves listening to their needs and acting on what we hear. We need to know the blockades and barriers that demotivate sales performance and develop action plans to remove them.
But there’s a higher need as well. For greatest long-term impact upon a sales team, we need to inspire the people we lead. When we do this, we encourage others to greater efforts, greater enthusiasm, and greater creativity. We help others find the purpose in what they do – how what they do makes things better. We define the war we are in – the adventure we are on, the battles we fight, and who we strive to rescue. We help salespeople understand the valuable role they play in the health of the company and their family. Then, goals take on a significance greater than the person. And, people are inspired.
By John Hester