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Society

What managers can do to motivate their sales teams

A salesman
A salesman carries an advertisement on his back to catch the attention of pedestrians on Moi Avenue in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

What do these three sellers have in common? The hawker who runs after you in traffic to complete the sale (or, start one because you showed interest in his wares), the seller at the stall who enthusiastically beckons you to his store with, “Karibu uone jeans,” (welcome to check out our collection of jeans) and the waiters or assistants at the food kibanda (eatery) who jostle for your attention to patronise their joint over the competition’s. All three share the undying quality of every successful salesperson — they hunger for the sale. And the next one and the one after that.

A salesperson’s performance is limited to the craving of one’s hunger.

There are those who are restlessly ambitious and will happily ‘run after you in traffic’. Then there are the ones who are content to sit at a sales desk of, say, a hospital or large employer.

The former will see the desk as a port of call. They will not take it for granted that, “because we have come to where the customer is, he should meet us halfway and come to the desk”. No. They know that rarely happens. They know customers have other pressing matters (their work) to attend to. So, to the easily seated sellers, let me enlighten you. The desk was never intended for customers, no. It was for you. To get you closer to them and interact with them in their environment.

The hungry sellers know this and that is why busy as bees they will buzz this way and that. They will beckon you to the desk, walk with you to your car, join you at your workstation, invite you to come to the sales desk during your tea break, join you as you have lunch and generally (admirably) insert themselves in your life. Unfortunately, hunger cannot be bottled and dispensed like medicine.

However, sales managers struggling with this for their easily contented sellers can motivate them to hunger using different methods.

There are the traditional competitions which work perfectly for the goal-oriented salesperson. But what of the salesperson who is not competitive? Yes, there are those that are not and will be happy with a B-grade when it is obvious they are A material.

double date

One such was rocket — propelled to an A+ by a discerning sales manager.

Realising the seller was relationship motivated he invited him for a double date with his wife.

Over dinner, the manager mentioned in passing that the best performing agent that year would get a home makeover. The following day and every one thereafter, the seller’s performance just kept rising and rising to win the competition with a clear lead. You see, the wife wanted the home makeover and she knew, which buttons to press. Any husband will tell you the rest was history.

Not all salespeople are inherently insatiably hungry. But not all that are not are lost causes either.

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