Motivation and Leadership in sales management

Effective sales executives are leaders, rather than drivers, of sales personnel. They earn the voluntary cooperation of members of the sales organization, motivating them, individually and as a group, to reach the sales depart­ment’s goals. They know the motivations, desires, and ambitions of those they lead, and they use this knowledge to guide their followers into the necessary activities—whether they be learning or performing.

The effective sales executive sets a good example. The “do as I say, not as I do” approach is not effective in motivating sales personnel. The sales executive works with the same diligence he or she expects of sales personnel, and leads his or her life as he or she expects them to lead theirs. It is natural for subordinates to emulate their superior—the superior is, or should be, a symbol of success.

One aspect of leadership closely related to motivation has to do with the handling of relationships with sales personnel. Attaining skill in this area is not easy, but experience, maturity, and common sense are necessary attributes. Effective sales executives treat sales personnel fairly, particularly as to assignments, promotions, and changes in pay. They commend sales­people for jobs well done, but if performances are not up to par, they call that to the subordinates’ attention privately. When discussing a salesper­son’s weakness, effective sales executives make it clear that they know the individual’s strong points. Before making changes affecting salespeople’s jobs, they consult those affected, helping to prevent the damaging impact of rumors upon morale. The sales force should be convinced, individually and collectively, that when right is on their side, the sales executive can be depended upon, if the need arises, to carry their case to top management. And, above all else, effective sales executives do not lose sight of the fact that they are managing the sales staff. They “sell” sales personnel on plans, policy changes, and anything else that affects them. Sales personnel are all the more sold on their jobs when sales executives apply good sales tech­niques in all their relationships with them.

Source: Richard R. Still, Edward W. Cundliff, Normal A. P Govoni, Sandeep Puri (2017), Sales and Distribution Management: Decisions, Strategies, and Cases, Pearson; Sixth edition.

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