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Friday, April 08, 2005

Self Key Sales Motivation (excerpts)

Following are excerpts from “Self Key Sales Motivation”, an article by Greg Miller, Employment Correspondent for the Houston Chronicle, printed May 21, 2000. The article spotlights Carl G. Stevens while he was teaching his famous “Blueprint” sales seminar.


There is no motivation except self-motivation.

That’s how Carl Stevens, proprietor of Carl G. Stevens and Associates, sums it up.

… “You can attempt to convince, persuade or even put them under duress, but you can never motivate them,” Stevens said. “It’s like breathing – it’s a self-influenced activity.”

… Steven’s firm serves as consultants to corporations, trade associations and professional agencies. Stevens, an international authority in the field of professional sales education and effective interpersonal communication, is author of “The Blueprint for Professional Selling.”

… Early in Steven’s studies, he found that, in most companies, 20% of the sales force were making 80% of the sales. He decided to conduct in-depth in interviews, with the 20% that were producing the most.

“I found that they think 10% of the sale comes on a rational basis and 90% of the decision is emotional,” Stevens said. “Motivation is a big part of the 90%.”

Stevens has devoted his life to finding out why one salesperson is more successful than another and to find common denominators. He is intrigued in how people motivate themselves.

In working with the U.S. Army, Steven’s outfit taught the military recruiters how to screen their people because despite a $36 million budget, the results were not as spectacular as hoped.

“(The Army) advertised in the Columbus, Ohio, area and pulled in 27 prospects,” he said. “The sergeants talked to the qualified recruits one-on-one and guess how many they closed? Well, it’s a round number… zero. The pre-selling worked, they got the prospects in but they missed in what Marshall Field calls the ‘last 3 feet’. They did not know how to persuade them enough to motivate themselves to action. You can get the ball 99 yards down the field, but if you miss that last 3 feet, you don’t score..”

Stevens, who has been involved with sales for more than 60 years, said teaching a person motivation is a fallacy in business.

“Motivation is a great complement to the proper aptitude, attitude, knowledge or skill but it is a poor substitute for them,” he said. “Most of the sales managers have seen their role as cheerleader instead of coach. We really haven’t gotten around to teaching management and supervisors how to do what they need to do and that’s how to help salespeople motivate themselves.”

Stevens said there are two key traits a successful, interpersonal communicative salesperson needs – empathy and ego drive.

“You need a high degree of empathy,” he said. “It is the ability to put yourself in the other person’s position without becoming emotionally involved so you can read the feedback. You also need ego drive. It’s what the old-timers call the “fire in the belly”. They have to have the want-to’s. The good salesperson needs the psychological reward from the sale as much as they need the money. You never hear of a salesperson retiring. They may go work for the hospital or do charity work or whatever, but they never retire because they never lose that need for the psychological reinforcement.”

… “You’ve got to have these two things in balance,” Stevens said. “If you get too much empathy, and not enough ego drive, you don’t come cross as an authority figure so nobody really values your opinion. If you get too much ego drive, not balanced with the proper empathy, you’re a bulldozer, you’re high-pressure, you scare people to death, you start coming on and (the buyer) starts pack peddling. It’s a happy balance and only about 20% of the people in the general population have that.”

Stevens said many professions require teaching, training and certifications before a person can begin his or her first day on the job. Selling is different.

… Stevens said one of his favorite examples of a person who knew how to help people motivate themselves was (the late Alabama head football coach) Bear Bryant.

“He did two things,” he said. “He’d get this freshman and he’d sit him down, one-on-one in private conversation. Coach Bryant would lean toward the kid, lower his voice and look him dead in the eye and say, “Now son, what is it you want to accomplish while you are here at the University of Alabama?” Then he’d listen and make notes. The second question he’d ask after the kind wound down was, “OK, now what can we do to help you do what you want to do?” Then he’d listen. I have never seen anybody in the real world do that except Bear Bryant. I think it is absolute genius and psychologically sound. We have never understood that the anatomy of a good sale is 30% determining the problem or the challenge and find the answer,” Stevens said. “60% is helping the decision-maker to motivate themselves to want what we are talking about. The other 10% is completing the sale. You’ve got to get the person you are selling to see themselves enjoying, benefiting and getting all the advantages of what you’re offering so it will satisfy the basic motives that they see,” he said.

“There is a methodology in doing that just like there is taking out a gall bladder or sending a person to the moon. You do it by the numbers. If everyone acts in their own enlightened self-interest, our challenge is to find out what is that enlightened self0interest and how can we help them get themselves into a position to get what they want.”

… “I like to ask myself, did I make a buddy on that phone call?” Stevens said. “I may not have made a transaction, but the potential buyer and I had a positive, quality call. In sales, you’ve got to enjoy the people interaction. People like to buy from people they enjoy.”

Two books on Carl G. Steven’s reading list:
· “Why People Buy: Motivation Research & It’s Successful Application” by Louis Cheskin
· “Rethinking the Sales Force: Redefining Selling to Create & Capture Customer Value” by Neil Rackham & John R. DeVincentis

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