How To Give An Old Salesdog New Mojo

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It’s not surprising people in sales eventually become complacent. Especially if they have been working in the same company and sales territory for too long. It’s like a gradual wearing down over the years. Boredom sets in and they feel as if there is no more challenge left in the job. They have been there, done that, too many times.

It’s an unmotivating place to be in for the salesperson and it’s tricky for the sales manager who has two questions to ponder:
  1. Do I move the salesperson to another area and risk upsetting long developed relationships?
  2. Do I keep the salesperson in the same area and try to recharge his mojo?

Too often management takes a hard line on these ex-top performers and either moves them around or simply cuts their sales areas. They hope that making them work harder to regain their current package, will rejuvenate them. But it doesn’t.

In fact, it is the worst thing you can do to an old salesdog. It’s an action that will most likely end in tears. On one hand, the salesperson has built solid relationships with customers after years of calling on them. On the other hand, the company isn’t seeing new business coming in from the salesperson.

The thing is a company needs to grow continuously and the old salesdog isn’t contributing to the growth.

They may have lost their hunger for sales and drive to get new customers, but they most certainly haven’t lost their talent to sell. They are simply bored from doing the same business repeatedly.  

So, what is the answer? A new challenge must be created to relight their spark!

Here are two strategies I have used with great success:
  • Identify a new market or product line that you have not previously explored. Bring your old dog into the planning and development of the project. Ask for input, based on their years of experience. They will become all fired up about it as it is something new, different and fresh. Then offer them the opportunity to spearhead the project. Show your trust in them by letting them get on with it. Set up regular feedback sessions to keep your old dog on track. Watch how they become reignited with enthusiasm and energy.
  • If your old dog has mentoring tendencies and is regularly asked for tips by the younger, newer sales reps, you have the ideal recharge remedy. Officially, put one of your ailing newbies under their wing. Ask them to coach and groom the new sales guy to bring them up to company standard. The fact that you have shown trust in the old dog’s abilities will fire them up. It will put them back on top of their game as they will be anxious to show the newbie just how good they are.
Notice that in both these strategies I have not suggested you offer more money. Ok, perhaps you could add an incentive, but the real motivation will be in:
  1. Your faith in their ability
  2. The opportunity to show off their sales experience and skills
  3. Making them feel like someone important in the business
  4. Being relied upon by others for their expert opinion and input

Most importantly, both strategies make the old dog feel more appreciated and valued.

Here are 5 other ways to re-motivate your sales staff and keep them energised to make more sales:
  • Incentives

Traditionally, companies encourage salespeople with rewards for exceeding targets. Some resort to extra special incentives such as cash bonuses and competitions offering grand prizes like luxurious holidays. Seventy percent of companies use incentives or bonuses to get the most out of their sales staff.

The problem with sales incentives is the best salespeople always seem to win the competitions. They are the staff already driving for more. These incentives often don’t motivate the Old Dogs who are in their comfort zone.

  • An alternative ‘motivation’

If money-based incentive programmes still do not drive salespeople to perform, change their behaviour by instilling some discontent. Change their territory and/or customer base. Or, even most effectively change their commission structure, making it harder to earn an income. This type of motivating isn’t ideal though.

  • A Different Generation

Today’s millennial salespeople are not nearly as motivated by money as the older generation was. And a common mistake made by sales managers is failing to understand this. The new generation of salespeople connects far better with a company willing to invest in their careers which includes training and educating them as part of the deal.

  • Education

Developing your salespeople’s selling skills can seriously boost your bottom line even with your most complacent staff. The fact is, many experienced salespeople have never been taught the basics of sales.

  • Commission or salary

Many companies are still unsure of the right sales compensation plan that can truly motivate sales staff and maximise sales performance.  

A commission is the most common and traditional way companies try to motivate their salespeople, and more importantly the veteran team members. The greatest advantage with a commission is it gives sales employees an incentive to work harder for their pay cheque. But the commission also presents its own problems. Only the top 5% of any sales force is driven to succeed. The rest will plateau at an income level they are comfortable with.

Remember, like anyone else in the business, a salesperson is employed to do a job. And in delivering an expected sales number. Set the budget based on a realistic expectation and hold the salesperson accountable for achieving their number.

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