While pursuing our continual research into the benefits of sales coaching, we came across a book that explains a whole lot of what is wrong in our banking system and also why the typical incentives used in the majority of companies have diminishing returns. The book is titled “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel Pink. The conclusions they’ve drawn from their extensive researches really are counter-intuitive, but are thoroughly backed up by the numbers.
We’ve read a little about it in a few blogs, but then we saw a video on YouTube from RSA Animate that laid out the basic conclusions in a very succinct 10 minutes. We just had to read the book and all the research!
Although at first sight it really had nothing to do with sales coaching, it sparked a very positive reinforcement for the ideas we are developing at SalesStar. We believe a ‘Coach on the Go’ that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, can be vitally important to the majority of salespeople in improving their performance, earning potential and job satisfaction.
What are these strikingly counter-intuitive results?
Well, they start from the well researched fact that larger rewards lead to improved performance in purely mechanical tasks, but poorer performance in tasks that call for anything beyond rudimentary cognitive skills. This doesn’t mean money isn’t important, you need to pay people enough that they are motivated. However, after that point is reached bonuses and incentives have little effect on performance in jobs requiring problem solving and creativity (doesn’t this sound like a typical salesperson?)
Once the money is no longer an issue there are 3 things people need to be motivated: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose
Autonomy, or the ability to be self-directed is often one of the main drivers for salespeople, allowing them to decide on priorities and be in charge of their working lives. This leads to engagement, a sense of self-respect and self-reliance, which should also have an impact on creativity and problem solving.
Mastery, or the ability to be the best they can be in whatever they are doing. A sense of continually getting better at their job, rising to and beating the challenge and making a contribution.
Purpose, or a connection to a purpose that provides a sense of satisfaction with coming to work and with the products and services they provide. This is most likely what is essentially missing when the profit motive overrides all other concerns and you start to take customers for granted, sell them inferior products, or even talk of them as ‘suckers’.
How do these new ideas on motivation connect to the ideas of coaching and especially a ‘Coach on the Go’?
According to a recent survey by CustomerThink the typical sales manager that coaches his salespeople, only does it on average 4 times a year. The other pertinent fact is that coaching tends to take place more towards the end of a sale.
A ‘Coach on the Go’ helps address most of the motivational requirements of a well paid salesperson:
- Autonomy – it is always available and gives feedback on where you are with a deal, what you need to discover, what will make a difference, all without shouting or moaning. This can help the salesperson think of more creative ways of solving the problems for themselves.
- Mastery – the salesperson can always look back at previous projects to see what they could have done better; they can also customize their software to improve their pool of knowledge as well as tapping into the community of knowledge of other users.
- Purpose – Knowing you are in control, increasing your mastery and connected to the wider community should provide increased job satisfaction and an improved sense of purpose.
We can’t guarantee that SalesStar will do all of this, but our aspiration is to make ‘on demand’ coaching available to all salespeople.