06 April 2023 |

Maybe it’s the manager, maybe it’s the lack of mobility

By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell

It seemed like only one year ago when companies were drunk off of fundraising dollars, new hires were promised promotions and pay raises, and equity really meant something.

Now, promises of promotion paths have been replaced with hiring freezes and there’s a greater likelihood of layoffs than merit increases. The result? Reps’ expectations are not being met and managers are even more at risk of losing top performers.

In today’s issue, we’ll be digging into what you can do to tap into your reps’ motivational core. In parts two and three of this series, we’ll dig into the importance that focus and growth plans play in keeping your reps engaged and satisfied.

So let’s tip off!

Understand the core of their motivations

Behind that door of promotion or career progression are underlying motivators that compel your people. If you can get them to identify and articulate what lives behind that door, you’ll begin to understand what other solutions might satisfy your people’s deeper “why.”

The most challenging piece of tapping into what drives a person to do something is identifying what that driver is. 

Real life footage of a manager trying to figure out their reps’ motivations

So how do you get to the core of what really motivates a person?

Step #1: Ask your rep what motivates them.

Step #2: Ask them to share a story that illustrates that motivation source in action.

Step #3: Ask them to give 2 more examples of how that motivation source led them to take an action or change their behavior.

The beauty of doing this exercise is it helps cut through the bullshit of motivation stigmas. Too often, people will say they’re motivated by money because that’s what they think they need to say, regardless of if it’s true or not. Cough cough: you don’t have to be driven by money to be a great sales rep.

True story, I once had a rep on my team whose performance was inconsistent and whose engagement levels fluctuated often. They told me they were money motivated. But when I asked them to offer up examples where they changed their behaviors or their mind to get more money, they couldn’t point to anything. In fact, they had more examples of how they had taken slight pay cuts throughout their career than moments where they pursued more money. 

Had I taken this rep’s first answer of being money motivated, I would have been mistaken in my efforts to drive discretionary effort from them. Instead, we had a really insightful conversation that helped this rep gain greater awareness of what their true drivers were, and we were able to partner together on a plan that would result in him being a consistent 100% performer.

Assist: Doing this exercise can also lead to clarity on whether a rep’s current role +/or company is the right fit for them. Sometimes people disengage or show up as “unmotivated” because they’re not in the right position +/or the company culture isn’t one that aligns with their values. If someone is in the wrong position +/or company, I’ve found it helpful to partner with the rep on a go forward plan that’ll help keep them engaged and performing in their current role while getting them prepared for a role +/or company that makes more sense for them.

Remember to drill in on multiple examples of how that core motivator shows up for your reps – this signals a characteristic. If you know your people’s characteristics, you can tap into what keeps them driven, engaged, and performing.

Going forward

Keeping reps motivated and engaged when the company isn’t able to meet their expectations and desires is one of the biggest, but most common challenges a manager will face. In today’s newsletter, we dug into the most important piece of meeting a rep’s needs – knowing how to identify their motivations. In next week’s newsletter, we’ll move onto the topic of directing focus with your reps.