Motivate For SHOW, Manage For DOUGH

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Good job stickerAs a sales manager, director or otherwise, frontline supervisor of a sales team, you have many challenges. Motivating the crew to do their best is usually the primary goal and the area where most sales managers spend their time.

However, in motivating the team, it is easy to overlook the individual sales person. After a time, you can find yourself treating everyone on your staff the exact same way. While there are some areas where people should receive the same and equal treatment, HOW you manage each sales person should be as unique as each individual is.

You have to recognize the personality differences, skill levels and potential of each member of your sales team and treat them accordingly. Below are just a few thoughts to keep in mind as you build a strong sales force and lead your team to success.

Lead or Direct
With some people, you almost have to physically take them by the hand and walk them through responsibilities and procedures step-by-step. Some people need a bit of handholding, and you have to SHOW them exactly what to do. For some sales people, such close guidance helps them perform better.

Alternatively, for some sales people, the “self-starter” type, this kind of handholding and guidance has the reverse effect. For some the worst thing you can do is try to lead them step-by-step. For these team members, you are best to give them a direction, and leave them alone. Let the sales person know what you want done, what the goals are and what you expect from them, and then get out of the way.

Manage or Micromanage
Though this sounds similar to the above topic, it is not. Now, I am referring to the continued follow-up management style you adapt for each sales person. What I am talking about is should you “look over their shoulder” or not.

Let’s face it, with some sales people you have to know what they are doing every day, and sometimes, every minute of every day. Some need a supervisor to constantly remind them of their goals and help keep them focused.

On the other hand, some sales people can get quite insulted should you “check-up” on them to see if they are doing their job. Do not micromanage those who are good self-managers.

The 80% or the 20%
No sales manager wants to see the old 80-20 rule come into play, in where the situation is that only 20% of your sales people are responsible for 80% of your sales and vice versa. Of course, we would all much rather have a crew full of nothing but 20% types.

The key though is not to expect or demand top 20% performance from bottom 80% people. You should push the 80%, constantly helping them to reach beyond their immediate grasps so that they improve. Yet, you cannot turn 80 percenters into 20 percenters.

When I say, motivate for SHOW, manage for DOUGH, I mean, motivate the group, but manage the individual.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 19 March, 2012

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