Motivation and the Sales Force

We recently evaluated a sales force that had some very atypical findings.  They had typically ineffective sales management.  They had 38 salespeople and all but two of them were order takers. They had very few opportunities in their pipeline and most of those were quite weak.  Nearly two-thirds of the sales force were empathetic to those who want to think it over and those who want to comparison shop.  37 of the 38 didn’t know the meaning of a qualified prospect. The sales managers were aligned with only about 25% of the company’s strategies.  The sales force wasn’t capable of executing most of the strategies.  They were guilty of hiring all of the wrong people. The gap analysis showed that they were 80% AWAY from having an over achieving sales force.  And it went on and on.  They were a $10 million company and the ROI analysis we ran came back showing that if they fixed just some of their problems it would yield $15 million in return.

Interestingly, the root cause of many of the other findings was that the sales force was NOT money motivated.  Order takers and lack of money motivation are quite the combination.  Company executives eventually learn that order takers rely on the on-going and renewal business of their existing customers. These salespeople tend to earn much more than they’re worth, develop a sense of complacency and fail to accomplish what the company needs them to do.

Lack of motivation is to growth as death is to life.  Companies tend not to notice it until the growth has stopped – for about three years or so.  When they finally realize that something is wrong, they may ask for help.  But the damage has been done.  You don’t turn around 38 unmotivated people.  You must rebuild and you can only do that one salesperson at a time.  You must redesign your compensation plan and that won’t work with the old salespeople.  The new salespeople will always be in jeopardy of being influenced by the unmotivated, under achieving veteran salespeople.

I just received a phone call from a company that needs a motivational speaker.  Too bad they don’t realize that a motivational speaker can’t fix the problems with a motivational talk.  Motivational talks are great for motivated people – it keeps them motivated.  But for unmotivated people the best remedy is replacement.