I’ll never understand how you can work with somebody on a daily basis and not know how to communicate with them.

Your salesman might be asking questions that seem to have obvious answers, and because of this, a lot of times our natural tendency as experienced leaders is to classify them as lazy or perhaps they just don’t know what they’re doing. Most of the time leaders just simply classify this person as an individual that doesn’t have ‘that killer instinct.’ The problem is that this is not always the case. While, yes, there are lots of sales people that are lazy… Could there potentially be an alternative reason? What if they want to be successful? But their natural tendencies are to strategize, to systematize, to genuinely understand rather than to just move on a deal right away.

Now, you know, they should look to simplify, adapt and innovate, but they don’t.

Yet that’s a function of their cognitive abilities. Now, that’s not to say that you can’t change it, but the important part is to first understand how they function so that you can build fail-safes to ensure that they’re operating as their best self so they don’t move too slowly and lose the deal in the process.

The second reason why most salesmen fail to achieve their full potential is because they don’t function as a team when they have one. You see this example in Formula One all the time. You tell two very high functioning individuals what their goal is. You tell them that they’re on a team. But at the end of the day, they’re not on a team. One person will win. One person will lose. Yet they’re both supposed to work together. This is why it never works out. You always see the fighting inside of Formula One.

It’s the same way you’re not going to be able to have two salespeople be the top earning rep.

And when you’re telling them that that’s what they have to do, they have to be the number one rep on the leaderboard, you’re telling them to effectively fight against each other. So this notion of “let’s work together and help each other” is illogical. It ignores the obvious. It’s important to understand that each individual on your team is motivated by something different. Remember, money is a soft motivator. It’s only enough until it’s enough. And then the increase in earnings doesn’t always translate to the linear increase in sales. So pay your people enough to make sure that earnings are not a problem. Pay them enough to where they’re just happy.

It’s important to understand that that’s not going to be everything…

Because the more you pay, the more they’re going to want, because the money is ultimately filling a hole created by their affective desires. Money is not an intrinsic motivator. The root cause could be stability, achievement, recognition, or freedom. It could be a whole host of different things. But it’s important to understand why your team does what they do. It’s important to understand their affective desires. High functioning sales teams are notorious for having toxic cultures.


Work styles and desires are important to understand for each individual. So you can speak to them at a one to one level. The structure is rarely the problem. Competition, pay for performance, leaderboards, quotas… All of that is a part of sales. Removing those core fundamentals of accountability and transparency is going in the wrong direction. Rather, you should be keeping such motivating factors, but applying them in the right lens and positioning each individual on your team. That’s what will truly allow your team to succeed without running any interference.

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