Schools Training

More Than One Way to Lead The Pack

14 AUG 2012
Career Path : Sales

There is no one single natural way to lead and motivate people. This is so because of a fundamental truth: people are different. This means that what works in motivating one person may fail with another. Highly motivated individuals might chase after the reward-carrot, while those who need more of a push might run from the punishment-stick.


Perhaps this isn’t truer for any kind of work than it is in the world of sales. Salespeople are generally self-starters and independently motivated, but this doesn’t mean that any great sales team is completely fine on its own, without a leader. A sales manager was probably at one time a salesperson first, and therefore has a good understanding for working in sales. But what is it about a great sales manager that sets him or her above the average salesperson? It is not simply having a great sales record before the big promotion. It is precisely the ability to lead a large group of diverse people with differing motivating factors, skills and weaknesses.


While sales is a people-job—working with clients, assessing their needs, following up to ensure satisfaction, etc.—it is bad practice for the salesperson to reduce their clients to simple categorizations. The same is true of sales management. There are, however, several basic techniques for motivating salespeople and a great manager should be familiar with all of them. Here are some examples:




This form of management doesn’t focus on day-to-day techniques so much as it does on consolidating every salespersons goals into one large goal for the company. It is a long-view style of visionary motivation. The benefit of this is that it encourages innovation and experimentation by allowing individual salespeople the freedom to hone their own styles.




This is when the sales manager takes a more personalized approach to working with his or her team, helping them set and achieve their own individual goals. Some see this as micromanaging, which is sometimes considered a negative attribute of managers, but this is only so when it is done excessively, as in when managers focus more on controlling their teams rather than motivating them.




As opposed to highly competitive environments, which are sometimes enforced among sales staff, this form of management encourages teamwork among the salespeople. Here, salespeople can share their knowledge and resources, praise each other, and offer constructive criticism. Important decisions can also be made democratically, but always with the manager overseeing the decision-making process.


No single method should be undertaken in isolation. Team-orientation, for example, can slowly take the influence out of the manager’s hands if not combined with occasional goal-orientation to reinforce the manager’s authority. Good sales strategy stems from good management strategy, and the best strategy is a combination of them all.



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