Two Things That Kill Motivation In Salespeople

A salesperson once said on one of our training programmes that no manager he had ever worked for had been a true ‘motivator’.

He went on to describe how no-one he had worked for had even tried to find out what drove him forward and what would make him get up in the morning buzzing and eager to get to work.

If you ask many salespeople the same question, they would probably answer the same as this sales guy did. That it’s difficult to find great sales managers who create opportunities and environments for salespeople to motivate themselves.

Many managers still consider money to be the prime motivator. But they forget that money is only a satisfier when it comes to getting the best out of people. In other words, when the amount of money someone earns is adequate to supply the needs of the individual, it ceases to become a driver to improved performance and instead becomes a necessity, or a satisfier, as Hertzberg calls it.

So, if money (or the lack of it)  isn’t the thing that kills motivation in salespeople…what is?

Well, I’ve identified two components that will suck the life out of a motivated salesperson if things aren’t rectified quickly.

Firstly…one thing that squeezes motivation quicker than Pavarotti in a leotard  is a goal that is Unchallenging.

If something is too simple to achieve, it stops a person having the ‘motive for action’, which is the prime definition of the word ‘motivation’.

Think about it for a moment. If you had a very simple target to hit, and you could accomplish it with your eyes shut, what drive do you have to achieve it? When you hit it and say ‘easy-peasy’, then the drive, the enthusiasm, the energy all dissipate and the motivation fizzles and fades. So does performance, in the long run.

Far better to have a target that challenges the salesperson to stretch themselves and aim to achieve something that proves they are capable and driven to achieve. The feeling you get when the challenging goal is hit is far grander than if the target was easily achieved.

Secondly…another thing that let’s the motivational wind out of you like a whoopie-cushion is a goal that is viewed as Unachievable.

An unachievable goal is such a drainer on motivation that most wouldn’t even take the first step towards trying to achieve it. Yet, a goal that is in sight but just out of reach is one that inspires, drives and energises a person to at least attempt it.

These two components make up the deadly duo when it comes to motivation. If the goal doesn’t challenge or is seen as being unattainable, it immediately causes the salesperson to look for excuses and defend their poor performance.

It would be much better to set targets that are stretching and challenging, mainly because of the type of characteristics the salesperson has to show in order for them to achieve those targets. You can imagine the feeling of satisfaction and pride (and hence motivation) if the salesperson sees they have had to expend effort and energy to achieve them.

Keep those targets challenging and achievable. And you’ll see motivation rise as salespeople meet those lofty ideals.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at

Practice Makes Perfect – Kick Out Mediocrity

I read an interesting article in the Guardian last Friday about how young Dutch footballer’s skills are perfected by their coach.

The method?

They get them to actually kick the ball 10,000 times a day in sets of 100-200 repetitions at a time.

They work with their young players in various drills. A mixture of toe-touches, dribbles, Cruyff turns and the like!

Go on over and read the article “Practising Perfection By 10,000 Touches” – it’s a fascinating read and insight into drilling excellence.

By carrying out these drills over and over again it becomes second nature to them and countries like Holland and Spain have worked out an almost formulaic approach to churning out great players by getting to them early and by cultivating excellence in this way.

It’s a process.

This got me thinking about the best sales people I’ve come across over the years and the best sales teams.

In terms of the top performing sales people…

They read books, attend training, learn from their peers and are committed to continually improving and perfecting their skills.

It’s not going to be as radical as 10,000 touches per day but they do something every single day to improve and hone their skills

The bottom line is that you need to practice over and over and over again to make perfect.

In terms of the top performing sales managers…

They churn out top performing sales people by having a training and on-going performance improvement process for them. From the moment a new starter joins they enter a system and a process to get them performing as soon as possible and then keep them performing.

Nothing is left to chance!

The lesson…

Don’t leave anything to chance or luck.

Develop a system and a process to improve.

Whether you are the player or the coach make sure you’re committed to excellence in all that you do and give yourself the best chance of success.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

The Sales Manager’s Guidebook – Everything You Need To Become A Top Performing Sales Manager

The Sales Manager’s Guidebook contains a wealth of valuable information for sales managers, split up into 3 manageable volumes which cover the main aspects of sales management.

From the Guidebook you will learn…

  • How to create a sales plan for you and your team
  • How to recruit new sales staff
  • How to develop your sales management skills
  • How to build and develop your sales team
  • How to solve common sales performance problems
  • How conduct successful appraisals with your team


Download Your Sales
Manager’s Guidebook Now


So what exactly is in each volume?


Sales Manager’s Guidebook –
Volume 1

Sales Planning & Target Setting

Volume 1 will teach you…

  • How to create a sales plan
  • How to set sales targets
  • How to develop an appropriate management style
  • How to take over new sales teams
  • How to manage the sales effort
  • How to recruit and select sales staff


Sales Manager’s Guidebook –
Volume 2

Leading & Motivating Your Sales Team

Volume 2 will teach you…

  • How to develop your leadership skills
  • How to motivate team members
  • How to set standards of performance
  • How to manage team discipline
  • How to build and develop your team



Sales Manager’s Guidebook –
Volume 3

Managing Sales Performance

Volume 3 will teach you…

  • How to effectively solve problems
  • How to improve your decision-making skills
  • How to manage both your own and your teams time effectively
  • How to improve your negotiation skills
  • How to conduct a successful appraisal of your sales teams’ performance


Download Your Sales
Manager’s Guidebook Now

The Importance Of Coaching In Sales Leadership Development

Training Alone Won’t Develop Sales Leaders

UK companies spent a combined £13 billion on sales training last year. They made this investment with the hope that training would dramatically improve their top line growth by transforming their average sales reps into good ones, and their good reps into all-stars.

But research on traditional sales training reveals a dramatically different story: one month after completing training, reps already have forgotten 87% of what they learned, according to the Corporate Executive Board.

Think about the golf swing. While a training session with a pro can provide an important introduction to the fundamental elements — grip, stance, ball position, backswing, follow-through — taken together, these discrete pieces of information quickly become overwhelming. When shared in small increments, however, and reinforced with ongoing coaching and regular practice, training becomes a valuable foundation — the first step on the path to mastery.

“Becoming a better leader (or manager, or pipefitter, or ballet dancer) requires wanting to learn, then acquiring new behaviors and putting them into practice,” writes Mike Myatt in Forbes. “We know intuitively that you can’t become a prima ballerina just by listening to somebody else talk about great ballerinas and how they danced.”

The process Myatt is describing isn’t really training — it’s coaching. While the two terms often are used interchangeably, they are actually very different, particularly when it comes to sales. Coaching isn’t a single event. It’s a process, requiring frequent, ongoing communication between rep and manager.

And it works. A recent study by Ventana Research found that sales reps are four times more productive when their training is complemented with ongoing in-field coaching and reinforcement — productivity that translates into better sales performance. Sales teams that incorporate sales coaching into their sales process see a 21% increase in close rates and a 23% increase in quota attainment, according to CSO Insights.

Coaching the Coach

The problem is that most companies aren’t training their sales managers to become great coaches. A study by ASTD found that only 11 percent of companies train their sales managers to a high extent, while 22 percent don’t train them at all.

Managers typically come from the sales ranks themselves, and after receiving a promotion, they suddenly find themselves managing a team. Absent support and mentorship, they often must figure out how to manager and coach on their own, with mixed results.

Equipping sales managers to make this shift successfully will have a significant impact on sales performance — and ultimately, on the overall performance of the company. On average, sales managers impact the behavior of 10 reps. So every hour invested in developing a manager has the potential to yield a 10X return.

A manager also has the greatest impact on sales rep turnover. The cost of replacing an effective sales rep is £63,000, when you factor in the time it takes to onboard a new rep and rebuild their pipeline. When reps leave an organisation, 70% of the time they cite a poor relationship with their immediate manager as the primary reason for their departure.

The most successful sales team leaders harness their sales reps’ innate drive to win by teaching skills for constant improvement. They take mere management a step further by offering mentorship and fostering one-on-one relationships with each member of the sales force. They cultivate a cohesive team unit by setting ambitious but achievable goals for both individuals and the group as a whole. Successful team leaders, in other words, are coaches.

The Three Keys to Effective Sales Coaching

Sales training can set the table for success. But once a training session ends, sales managers need to coach their reps to ensure best practices and techniques become ingrained. Here are three keys to every successful sales coaching relationship:

1. Frequency

The only way a sales manager will truly understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of their reps is to connect with them 1:1 on a regular basis — at least once a week. Setting clear goals, determining the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving them, and sharing strategies for overcoming those hurdles can only come through frequent and ongoing communication.

2.  Accountability

In a coaching relationship, goals only have meaning if sales managers hold their reps accountable for achieving them. When a rep commits to change their behavior and undertake certain actions, it’s crucial for a sales manager to be able to measure their progress and provide feedback about what’s working, what needs to be improved, and why. Over time, sales reps will be able to chart their development as new techniques and strategies start to yield results.

3. Recognition

One of the most effective things a coach can do to inspire a team is to celebrate it. Sales managers who highlight the importance of the sales team and the unique qualities like resilience, tenacity, and charisma needed to succeed at the job will produce sales reps who feel valued and vital. Taking concrete steps to remind reps that the work they do is vital and value to the company and even the world at large can count for a lot.

Guest Blog By Nick Stein, Sr. Director Marketing, Salesforce

(Image by Stuart Miles at

Is Your Top Revenue Earner Actually Your Best Salesperson?

I have had many debates over the years about what makes a great sales person and the one thing I have always argued is that the amount of revenue they produce should not be the only key factor.

Let me give you an example based on Formula One (F1) racing. The reason the drivers strive to be in the top teams is that they generally have the fastest car! Let me repeat that, they have the fastest car! The top drivers are in essence all fairly equal in terms of their pace and it is the machinery and technology around them that can limit their performance.

The reason why team mates in F1 are so highly competitive with each other is that they know they have exactly the same car as them. Therefore whoever is fastest out of the two is definitely the quickest and best performer.

In business it is almost impossible to have two sales team members that have exactly the same territories or client bases. Despite the best efforts of sales management I have never seen a territory split that is 100% fair and equal. Therefore just because someone produces the highest revenue are they the best?

Over the past few years CRM systems have become far more effective at monitoring sales performance in several dimensions, not just revenue. In many cases profit margin, new business, up sell/cross sell and accuracy of forecast against achieved results can all be checked at the click of a mouse.

My personal favourite measure is the last one ‘accuracy of forecasting’. I would rather have a consistent high performer who delivers exactly what they say than a happy go lucky salesperson with performance that yoyos between awesome & poor! I’ll explain why?

In order to forecast business accurately you need to know exactly what is happening with each deal and each client. You must intimately know the clients decision making process and key people. You need to know where the deal currently sits in that process in terms of sign off. You know the potential pitfalls and delay points and fastidiously monitor and check.

This type of salesperson is most likely to pay the same attention to detail when engaging with the client in the first instance, real consultative salespeople that know their best chance of hitting their targets and goals is helping the client achieve theirs!

Here are my top tips to spot a sales star:

  • They never stop prospecting even when they are smashing targets with existing business
  • They intimately know the clients decision making process so there are no surprises
  • When they win a deal they share the glory with the team that supported them
  • They take responsibility for their learning rather than wait for training
  • They can articulate what the client will get out of the ‘deal’
  • They appreciate NOT all business is good business and are prepared to walk away
  • They see targets as ‘norm’ and always seek to exceed
  • They never ‘sand bag’ deals to make life easier next month
  • Their sales funnel & forecast is always reliable

It takes real courage to make changes to territories and move accounts around but if you want to be a sales leader then courage is not something you should lack! Put your best drivers in your best accounts and I’ll see you at the winning line!

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

(Image by Pixtawan at

How Sales Managers Can Encourage Performance

As a sales manager, there are many responsibilities that you hold in terms of results as well as performance. You’re paid for the results you achieve; the more you achieve , the more successes you can measure.

All; managers realise they have to employ people to do the job for them. If you rely solely on your own skills, your people won’t learn very quickly and won’t advance in their development.

So, a lot of your time is devoted to improving your team’s performance. And there are occasions when that performance could be better, times when you know your people could tap into greater potential. How do you start to improve performance? What should you concentrate on to ensure you give them the best possible opportunities to improve?

I’ve developed an acronym that will help you determine which areas you should consider when assessing performance. Think of the word ‘perform’ and you’ll be reminded of what you can focus on.

PERFORM stands for:


What are the measurable objectives your people should be aiming for? Are their roles and responsibilities, objectives and targets clearly stated, specifically detailed, measurable, challenging and personally motivating to the individual? Will they know how to measure results themselves? Are they competent enough to achieve them?


Is the environment you are creating conducive for them to give of their best? Are the resources they utilise aiding them to produce the best results? Do they have reasons to use the working conditions or lack of resources as excuses for poorer performance than you would expect?


Are they totally clear on what they are responsible for? Are there some areas where they fall short because they don’t take those responsibilities seriously enough? Do they understand the implications of not performing to the standard, or are those standards too lax to be monitored?


Do your guidelines, ideals and standards provide fairness for each team member? Do any of them have reason to believe they are not being treated as fairly as they might be? Do you have ‘favourites’ within the team? Are your performance standards seen as reasonable but stretching, achievable but challenging?

Organisational Skills:

Are many of the shortfalls in performance related to poor organisational skills? Do your team members have the organisational abilities to achieve successful results? How do you monitor and improve the skills of those who lack some of the fundamental and basic skills needed to support successful performance?


Does the reward system allow people to put their heart and soul into what they do? Does it encourage them to develop their skills? What gets rewarded gets done, so are you rewarding what you want people to achieve? Do your people focus on results or is activity and ‘busy-ness’ given more attention? How does the recognition scheme you operate help them achieve successful results for you and the company?


What motivates each individual? Have you challenged each person to stretch themselves and develop their skills so they take on the responsibility to advance and develop their career? Do people have clarity on what they need to do to motivate themselves? Have you provided the conditions and benefits structure so you reward the results that will help you achieve your goals?

When you give your team members the opportunities to perform using the ideas discussed here, you open up the chance for them to take advantage of the foundation you have provided, and the talented, quality people you lead will repay you by tapping into the potential each one of them possesses, and you’ll quickly see results that you can be pleased with and proud of.

Happy selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

(Image by

Jack Welch’s Sales Management Concepts

Jack Welch has been voted one of the most influential managers of the twentieth century, and the effects of his style is still being felt today.

He was the CEO of General Electric (GE) from 1982 till 2001. To start evaluating his managers, Jack implemented a system of measuring performance based on characteristics that ‘graded’ them against certain criteria.

The criteria he chose were interesting in that they were different from the normal distribution of measurements within business settings. They became known as the 4 ‘E’ and 1 ‘P’ concepts, and we can compare them now to ascertain whether they are still effective in today’s critical sales world.

The first ‘E’ referred to ‘Energy’. High personal energy displayed by the sales manager is vital if their team is to follow the example. The team follow the example set by the manager, and if the energy levels are low, the lethargy is shared among the team. You need to display a hard-working attitude, yes, but the visible energy exuded at the personal level is more important to help the team keep their motivation, spirit and drive at a high level.

The second ‘E’ is related to the fact that you need to ‘Energise others‘. Naturally, you can’t do this if you don’t show energy yourself, so it’s imperative that you set the lead and example. This creates momentum for the effect of energising others to be put into place.

The third ‘E’ refers to what Welch called ‘the Edge‘. This was defined as the taking tough decisions without flinching, understanding what needed to be done and when. He recommended that, when decisions needed to be made, they were considered, determined and then acted upon. Managers who have the edge show their teams what need to be done and actively get on with them.

The fourth ‘E’ drove people to the top of the pile. Welch referred to it as ‘Execution‘ and considered it to be the most important of the four, or at least the catalyst for the other three to be effective. It requires a manager to be proactive, identifying where things are going wrong and formulating plans before they have an impact on results. The Execution manager recognises how he or she should take ownership of the matter before they have to make excuses for failure.

And the ‘P’ stood for ‘Passion’. Welch referred to having passion as the essential quality that kept the four ‘E’s working well. Without the drive, the motivation, the passion for excellence, managers fall at the first obstacle.

So, there you have the five key components that Welch stated were needed for top performing sales managers. I don’t believe anything has changed since his day and recommened we all follow that advice.

Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

( Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at

3 Powerful Sales Coaching Tips

You know the feeling. It seems that after all of the training, the teaching, the sales contests, rewards and prize money; still there are too many on your sales team who routinely turn in lacklustre performances and barley survive.

Sales contests, incentive prize money and recognition will cost you a bundle, and if it does not provide a significant return on the investment, it spells trouble. Below are three very effective sales coaching tips that will help keep your team on track, but will not cost you a single pound.

#1 – Reward Hard Work, Effort and Work Ethic
Usually, only the top sales people receive all of the money, rewards and recognition. Basically, it is they who get all of the motivational backing. If you think about it, those “20%-ers” actually need the motivation and positive reinforcement the least.

If the only reward is for the closed sale, then those who worked hard and did everything right, but DO NOT close a sale, feel slighted. Sales people who need more time and attention and those who have a lower closing average also need recognition for their effort. In addition to sales, reward for effort and work ethic. Recognise when someone has run a dozen extra appointments, or knocked on 100 extra doors. Such activity will pay off.

#2 – Have The Top Sales People Teach
It is very easy for the top sales pros and the most experienced sales people in the room to begin to lose interest when the sales meetings turn to entry-level topics.

One way to prevent this and show recognition for top sales performers is to let the top sales people do some teaching. Have top sales reps teach some of the basic points to their newer team members. Have the top rep of the month, talk about how he or she closed that big sale in front of the whole room.

#3 – Involve Sales People In Company Decisions
One very effective way to uplift and motivate sales people is to seek their advice on matters that may concern them. Too often management totally forgets the people who will be affected by decisions they make. In addition, sometimes the sales people on the ground actually know more about the situation anyway.

Just let the team know that they and their opinions count. This does not mean that you have to act on everything they tell you or change anything. However, sales people perform at much higher levels when they feel that they are important to the company.

Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Keerati at