How to Demotivate Your Entire Sales Team with Just One Comment
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Welcome to the Year of
people, the Year of the Rooster might be a year of
uncertainty and volatility. In years like these,
perhaps your greatest asset will be that of a sales team who
could still grow your business whatever the challenges or
The sad news we got, however, was a real
case where a company de-motivated the entire sales team
with just a few words. This is worse than lifting
a rock and smashing at one's own feet.
Hence, this month's
How to De-Motivate Your Entire Sales Team with Just One Comment (and How to Motivate Them Instead); and
3 Simple Steps to Implement Effective and Meaningful Change
This issue's main article is on
"How to De-Motivate Your Entire Sales Team with Just One Comment (and How to Motivate Them Instead)",
and we analyse key factors that motivate and de-motivate your
While the performance of
the sales team could be critical to the performance or
even survival of a company, some companies actually take
steps to de-motivate their sales teams;
The key drivers to
motivating sales teams, besides merely using money;
How you can make your
sales team stay in focus, and motivate them to achieve
outstanding results. Read
To read the rest of this
How to De-Motivate Your Entire Sales Team with Just One Comment (and How to Motivate Them Instead)
by c.j. Ng
Sadly, at the beginning of the Year of the Rooster, we have a case where with just one comment, a company actually achieved the near impossible: to demotivate the entire sales team for a sustained period of time..
And since this is based on a real story, the names have been changed to protect the guilty, as well as the innocents who are still working in the company.
We had a client (a Training Manager) whose
Sales Director wanted a 2-day
business acumen training for their
sales staff, in conjunction with their annual meeting.
After much discussion, we got what the Sales Director wanted,
and all is set for a roll out in 3 weeks.
Then, just yesterday, the client called and said it's
cancelled. Their China Managing Director had vetoed it.
After further probing on our part, the China MD was actually
kind of like undecided. It was their HR Director who vetoed,
telling their China MD "What's the purpose of up-skilling the
sales people in business acumen? It's better that they don't
know too much"
It turned out that the HR Director had hired the Training
Manager to do ALL trainings in-house, so as to
for external training. Also, being a former Legal Counsel, the
HR Director could also be mitigating risks in case if the sales
people really knew too much and could act against the interests
of the company. I know this sounds strange that a company not
trust its entire sales team, but the legal profession has been
trained to mitigate risks, no matter how remote these risks are.
And so the
business acumen workshop was shot down, and we are scrambling to tell
all our partners the bad news etc. However, if we look at this
closer, it could be just the most efficient way to demotivate
the entire sales team.
Firstly, the Sales Director lost face big time. He lost face
now, and he'll lose more face during the Sales Meeting because it's
going to be an internal training session (again).
Not only that, the Sales Director is going to lose credibility,
for not able to
obtain benefits for the sales people. Hence the
sales team may not be as willing to work harder for the Sales
Director, much less the company. Vetoed by the HR, no less.
And guess what, there will always be recruiters eyeing good
people, esp. good sales people (and managers or director).
This is probably a highly destructive but effective chain
reaction caused by just one single comment from the HR Director,
and supported by the Country Managing Director.
On a bigger picture though, it also portray
leadership at helm. Here you have the top manager who wanted to
micro-manage, but was indecisive and unable to form his own
ideas. Such behaviours could be a result that the top manager
not really knowing what to do, but wanted to be seen to be
actively deciding, and yet not willing to listen to different
So How are People Motivated?
To make things simple, here’s a very simplified formula for motivation:
And we can analyse them individually.
motivated to do something IF they know they can succeed.
The chances of success could be reliant on:
Now, it gets complicated for
the part on Expected Pay-off. In a way, it may seem to be
monetary or material rewards, but there are a lot more variety
of pay-offs available, such as:
Money (salary increases,
bonuses or other payments);
(promotions or having a more prestigious job title);
Recognition (public and
private recognition of good contribution);
Freedom (flexible hours,
working from home);
achievement is a pay-off in and of itself);
Security (can I keep my job
for the foreseeable future) etc
The tendency for many
managers is just to focus on the top two, and forget that
there are actually more cost-effective options other than
money or career advancements, that could be implemented by
But there is a different dimension to managing the
expectation of Expected Pay-Offs, such as:
In general, if the pay-off
is not large enough, then people would want have it as
quickly and as frequently as possible.
To illustrate this, we can use the case of industrial
equipment or solution sales as an example. Typically, the
sales cycle of industrial equipment can be months if not
years. So if the sale people are looking forward to the
monetary rewards of the sale, it will take a long while
before they get anything.
So how can managers
motivate sales people dealing with long
sales cycles, so that they maintain their enthusiasm
throughout the sales process? Here are some clues:
Sales people may feel
motivated if they are able to
advance the sale to the
next stages. That can be a sense of achievement, or it
can be a higher probability of eventual success;
Sales people may feel
motivated along the way if they are getting the support
and resources from others in the company;
Sales people may be
motivated if they are given frequent recognition for
getting the right things done, such as gaining
appointments with the right people or putting up
proposals that delight customers, etc.
And of course, people will
be inclined to do those things that require as little effort
as possible to get what they want. Some of the factors that
may reduce the amount of effort required are similar to
those that increase chances of success, including:
So How Do We De-Motivate The Entire Sales Team?
So referring back to the case we mentioned at
the very beginning, here are some reasons why the entire
sales team could be very de-motivated, despite the fact that
there are no changes to the amount of money they get, or
their job titles.
When the sales team didn’t get their training, it’s not just
a “training workshop” that they lost. It could be:
So while the sales team and their Sales
Director should be happy and contented since they will be paid
their bonuses for meeting targets, but that may not translate
into motivation and affirmative action in the coming year. And
if the coming year is one that is tougher with more competitive
pressure, they will be further demotivated.
Need help in motivating your staff to achieve outstanding performance? Simply e-mail
email@example.com or call
+86-21-6219 0021 or WeChat: cydj001 and
arrange to have a deeper discussion.
Hour: 14 Mar 2017
Motivate Your Sales Force to Outstanding Performance
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7 Mar 2017
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While You can Motivate Your Employees to
Contribute More, But You May Not Make Them Stay Longer with You
by c.j. Ng
One of the more common questions that our clients ask is: "How
improve the productivity and loyalty of our employees?"
After some deep reflection, here's what we advise our clients:
As a middle
manager, you probably can do quite a lot of things to
motivate your staff to contribute more
a middle manager, there's not much you can do to retain your
significant difference between staff retention, and staff
Let me explain.
As a middle manager, you probably can do the usual things such
as coaching, training, giving recognition when it's due, giving
timely feedback, showing care and concern, providing
opportunities for growth etc. As long as
the company is managed in a fair and just way, and as long as
the staff is paid reasonably well, these actions should motivate
the staff to contribute more.
However, a motivated and sometimes
highly engaged staff member, may not
be one that may stay longer.
The reason being that there are more external factors at work
lure your highly motivated and talented staff away.
These factors could range from someone else offering salaries
that are drastically higher, to other companies that really have
career development opportunities that do not exist at your
As such, even if you have been a great manager and leader, and
that your staff is highly motivated, you still may not withstand
the onslaught of such external factors.
Having said that though, we need to distinguish between staff
retention and staff loyalty. While a staff member may not
be working for you for long, that does NOT mean the staff is not
loyal. Loyalty simply means factors such as:
Traditionally, we tend to think that a loyal staff is someone
who could stay with the company for a long time. However,
in today's much shorter retention periods, we probably have to
rethink that definition.
So if you have a capable and committed staff member who left for some
other company, that does not mean the staff is disloyal.
As the Chinese saying goes,
“人各有志", or "to each his own". Almost no one stays in one
single company for their entire careers. People will
leave their jobs for a variety of reasons, which is NOT an
indication of loyalty, and in most times, are beyond the influence
and control of their managers.
What This Means to Managers
There are a few implications for managers. These could be:
Think less about staff retention,
but more about staff contribution;
Always keep an eye on succession,
because your best staff member might just leave suddenly;
Your staff member's career
development could take place inside or outside your company,
and who knows they might rejoin you again in future, etc.
Some managers may lament that after spending days and nights
training and grooming a key staff member to be a great
performer, that staff member promptly leaves for somewhere else.
This can be very disheartening. Some managers may even
feel being betrayed for all the trust that had been placed on
that staff member.
However, as cruel as it can be, this is merely part of the life
of being a manager. The old saying was "what if you don't
train them, and they stay?", and the results could be even more
If managers could not accept this reality, however harsh it is,
then DON'T be a manager. This may not be written in the
Job Description of a manager, but seeing your staff member
leaving after investing all that time and effort training them
is a fact of life for managers.
We are But Stepping Boards
In a way, managers are the stepping boards for
our staff members.
They join us, learn something, and then go somewhere else,
So one of the
key measurements of a good
how good are you as a stepping board? When your staff
member leaves, did he or she get bigger roles, better pay and
greater developments? If yes, then you really have made a
difference. Sad as it will be to see your staff members
leaving, but if they left for better places, that should be a
source of pride for managers.
And given the fluid nature of today's career
path, who knows if you and your staff members will get to work
together again in the near future!
Need help in getting over the leaving of your
key staff member? Simply e-mail
or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype:
cydj001 and arrange to buy me a
mocha. All information shall be kept in confidence.
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