10 October 2023 |

The Motivation Myth

By Alex Alleyne

Last week, we dissected the art of coaching, laying the groundwork for turning raw talent into sales success. This week, let’s dive into the next chapter: motivation. What fuels the engine once it’s built? How do you keep your sales team firing on all cylinders and identify where to put your energy? 

I want to start today by making something clear: I was not very good at understanding motivation in my early leadership roles. I didn’t understand the mechanism for driving teams forward and knowing where to put my energy to lead effectively. 

I failed the first team I led. At least initially. 

I burned myself out (and did a disservice to everyone) by trying to spend equal time with the entire team. I truly believed I could improve our salespeople by instilling my motivation and drive in everyone, regardless of their ability. 

This isn’t the leadership your team needs.

As we discussed previously, we need to be able to move on from poor performers fast. Team members who don’t cut it will likely never become high performers and you must move on from them quickly.

Your top performers are the ones to focus on. Drive them. Empower them. Help these top players go further, faster. 

If you do, you’ll notice a domino effect. Mid-level performers will step up, leaders will emerge, and your numbers will skyrocket. 

Now, on to the critical triggers for motivating your team.

Here’s something I learned early on as a sales leader: motivation isn’t something you can instill in people. It has to come from within. When I first took charge of a team, my instinct was to be the cheerleader, thinking that would be enough. Spoiler: it wasn’t.

Intrinsic Over Extrinsic

Money is good. Bonuses are better. But they’re not the end-all. What truly drives a sales team is an intrinsic desire to excel. I’ve found that setting up a culture that values personal growth over just hitting numbers can make all the difference. Recognition, not just reward, fuels long-term commitment.

The Role of Purpose

Having a purpose is the North Star. When team members understand the ‘why’ behind the ‘what,’ magic happens. Clarifying the purpose behind each project or goal can inject a sense of urgency and importance that no bonus can buy.

Daily Rituals for Lasting Momentum

Your team’s daily habits can either enhance or erode motivation. I institute a morning huddle with every team—a quick 15-minute meeting to set the day’s tone. We share wins, focus on priorities, and occasionally talk about what’s for lunch. It’s small but sets the stage for a day of focused effort.

A Quick Recap: Motivation Unveiled

So here we are. To truly motivate your team, focus on:

  • Intrinsic values: Recognition over reward.
  • Purpose: The ‘why’ that fuels the ‘what.’
  • Daily Rituals: Small habits for big impact.

Remember, motivation isn’t a one-time act; it’s a constant endeavor. 

You don’t just set it and forget it. You maintain it, you feed it, and most importantly, you live it.

Until next week, my fellow Sales Leaders.