with changes; by making some unorthodox adjustments to your routines, you encourage your sales- people to make some motivating and profitable changes to theirs.

3. CREATE SYMBOLS OF VICTORY If out of sight is out of mind, you need to keep visual reminders of the rewards of hard work in front of your team to keep them motivated. Encourage your salespeople to think about the rewards that motivate them most and to put pictures of those rewards up where they’ll see them often. A top Xerox manager carried a ski cap with the name of a five-star ski resort embroidered on it to every meeting to remind his people of where they were going to go if they met their targets. One company I worked with designated one office wall as the “victory wall” and deco- rated it with testimonial letters and written goals.

4. KNOW YOUR SALESPEOPLE When it comes to motivation, not all salespeople are created equal. Whereas some might crave recogni- tion for their achievements, others might be more inspired by the thought of a weekend getaway at the beach. Spend some time getting to know what makes your salespeople tick – what fires their imaginations and fires them up. Motivate them by building their egos. Because they are impor- tant, make them feel important: Listen


Turn Grumpy Customers into Solid Advocates

With the right approach, some of the grumpiest people can become friendly and sociable – and good custom- ers as well. Before jumping in, however, make sure the customer is ready to step in with you to address the problem at hand. One regional sales manager suggests: “Nine out of 10 times the problem is not with the customer but with

to them carefully, praising them often and allowing them to sell without close supervision if they don’t need it or want it. Get in tune with your team’s wants and needs by looking at things from their perspective.

5. PRAISE YOUR TEAM Try recognizing your salespeople as often as you want them to do their best. Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective ways to make sure your team keeps up the good work. It only takes a few seconds to say, “You did a terrific job closing the Jones account,” but the motivating effect on the salesperson lasts a lot longer. Keep the basics of effective praise in mind: Make it timely, specific, and personal. Get in the habit of praising your people’s actions – not just their results. Remember that motivating rewards don’t have to cost a lot of money. You might get more out of your salespeople by simply promising them a lunchtime pizza party or ice cream social on Friday if they meet the quota you set for the week.

6. SET A GOOD EXAMPLE What you say won’t mean much if you don’t follow your own rules. What’s good for salespeople is also good for their manager, so make sure you always practice what you preach. Earn your team’s trust by always do- ing what you say you will – and make sure they know you’re there to help them. Always practice ethical sales

and let your team know you expect them to do the same.

Showing them you hold yourself to the same standards you set for them will help you earn their respect and en- courage them to follow your example.


Confucius said, “Good people strengthen themselves ceaselessly.” Good salespeople never stop learn- ing, growing, and improving. To keep yourself and your team fresh and ward off burnout, take time out for fun. One manager at Microsoft hits the company basketball court with his team to blow off steam and stimu- late new ideas. Keep an eye out for interesting articles or videos that can teach your team a new lesson or give them a fresh perspective on an old issue or problem. Encourage them to set aside time for personal reflec- tion and self-renewal. Use leisure time to recharge your batteries so you’re ready and able to do your best when you return to work. A sales team that’s well educated but poorly motivated is only half equipped to succeed. All salespeople should strive to be positive self-start- ers, but managers who see motivation as entirely the salesperson’s problem are shortchanging both themselves and their team. When your team wins, you win – so help them stay positive and sell more by taking an active role in keeping them motivated. 

your mindset. Anyone can sell a person who is friendly, amiable, and knows just what she wants. That’s not selling; it’s order taking. It’s the patron who is uncertain, skeptical, and unwilling to listen who presents the real challenge. Once you get trainees to understand this, it gives them a smart new perspective on their job. “In working with trainees, the key thing is to get them not to generalize customers but to individualize them in terms of their problems and needs, their personality and style. The grumpiest customer will turn friendly and cooperative if convinced you are zeroed in on his or her problem and making an honest effort to solve it.” – SELLING POWER EDITORS


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