In my consulting practice, I find that one of the most prevalent sales management myths is that money is the primary motivator for originators. If so, then why are sales executives always tweaking sales compensation plans with the hope that it will change their sales results? The reason is because it is easy to do — definitely more so than developing their sales staff! Unfortunately, compensation plans don’t drive results for originators.
What really changes sales performance is creating an environment that aligns with each salesperson’s motivational needs. The person responsible for providing the conditions that support these needs is the first-line manager.
First-line managers are the lynchpins between the company and employees. That’s why it is critical that senior management hire direct managers who possess core coaching competencies vs. former top producers who may not be able to effectively coach originators.
Managers who assume that employees are motivated by the same thing they are or who believe that money is the only motivator are at risk for high turnover.
Extensive research indicates that originators leave companies because they feel managers are not supporting or developing them. Conversely, when managers take the time to understand the employee’s motivation and support it, they can increase performance and retention.
Over the years, I have talked with thousands of top producers for a variety of different research efforts and consulting engagements and it is clear that top producers are not well understood by management teams. Senior managers will often express the sentiment that top producers are prima donnas motivated by money. This is not only very shortsighted but highly inaccurate from a research standpoint.
Research has identified eight distinct motivators in business: recognition/attention; control; money; freedom; developing expertise; affiliation; security; and achievement. (Our development report helps managers determine a salesperson’s unique motivators.)
While no single motivator is better than the other, top producers are overwhelmingly motivated by developing expertise and achievement. While achievement may not surprise managers — top producers are competitive individuals — the importance of improving their craft might. Top producers not only want to reach the next level in their expertise but are willing to put the effort to get there.
In a recent coaching consult, I recommended that the manager install a new practice: discuss a personal learning plan with a top producer. The originator had been in the business for 20 years (with many of the major lenders) and no one had ever sat down and created a personalized plan for him. The producer was thrilled with the manager’s focus and engaged to perform even better.
When was the last time you had a conversation with your originators that supported their motivation needs? Today is a great day to do it.