Sales Team Morale is Overrated

sales moraleSomeone posted the question, “Are you already behind on your YTD sales goals?”.

One responses was another question, What are some different ways you keep morale high when the team is behind on goals?” 

I responded to this question with the following answer:

“I don’t expect many to agree with this answer and my opinion can’t be changed. Are you sure you want a team that’s behind on goals to have high morale? They should be quite upset with themselves, feeling the pressure and doing what it takes to fix the problem. I sure wouldn’t want them feeling too good about their performance.

Morale is overrated. You want them to feel good about the company and themselves, but don’t overcompensate when they fail to perform or you’ll find them falling even further behind.

Instead, you want their future successes to change their morale.

So stop worrying about morale and begin working on cause and effect. What has caused them to fall behind? Do you have the right people? Does the model work? Is it the process? Is it the methodology? Is it the target audience? Is it their skills? Is it their DNA? Is it your sales management?”

I would be concerned if they weren’t motivated, but even motivation is misdiagnosed.  I receive at least two calls each month from executives who want help motivating their sales force.  My first question is always, “How do you know they aren’t motivated?”  Their answers are usually that they aren’t closing enough business.  There is no correlation between closing and motivation.  I’ve seen very motivated salespeople who can’t close a door, and an equal number of unmotivated salespeople who are tremendous closers.

As always, the key is to make a correct diagnosis and there are two things you must absolutely not do when attempting to solve problems related to performance:

  1. Make Assumptions – As you can see from this example, a wrong guess will lead you down the wrong path and fail to solve the problem.
  2. Lump Everyone Together – From among the dozens of issues that the typical sales force has, it’s rare when everyone suffers from the same issue.  While sales issues like model, methodology, process, pipeline, metrics and selection tend to be management issues, skill gaps and weaknesses tend to be more individually targeted.
To make the proper diagnosis and identify the underlying causes of what you observe, a sales force evaluation is the single most effective step you can take.