Motivating Salespeople: Thinking Outside the Box

Whenever I’m tempted to complain about how hard it is to find good sales reps I look in the mirror. Successful recruitment starts with creating a reputation as a great place to work. (That’s why we have a Budweiser trade and a large Bud cooler in our conference room.)

Some random thoughts on how to create that reputation:

Saluting our staff with on-air announcements stating how long they’ve been with us. (My veteran says he’s put up with me longer than either one of my two wives.)

We also send the clients of a rep who collects his first $1,000,000 a letter thanking him or her for contributing to the rep’s success. . .and suggesting the rep buy him/her lunch in return for spending so much money with them.

Our sales reps also voice sales recruitment messages and mention what they like most about their job. Family friendly, flexible, fair and with an opportunity to make friends with the clients they meet, and make an above-average income are cited in on-air messages.

Far too often station have a going-away party for someone as they leave. It sure makes a lot more sense to have celebrations for those who stay. We have 25th and 15th year anniversaries approaching and we’ll celebrate that rather than throw a party for someone who moves on to something else.

What has made the greatest difference in curbing our sales staff turnover is personality profile testing. Years ago we connected with Alan Fendrich, who operated a telemarketing company called Radio Profits. He shared DISC profiling with me. Today, Alan operates Advance Hiring; for a monthly flat fee we can test an unlimited number of sales applicants. Most are rejected, but that saves us disrupting their lives by putting them in a position for which they are not a good match. And it saves us time and money training candidates who are congenitally defective in the characteristics that are essential for success in sales. Never will I hire a sales rep again without testing him or her.

One of the very best ideas, certainly appropriated from someone else, is involving the spouses of sales reps in the rewards. Years ago I had two reps who just could not get their monthly collections above the low 20’s. Deviously, I sent both spouses a letter stating that if the rep collected more than $25,000 I would sign the enclosed $500 check and require them to take a three-day weekend to spend it. Both collected more than $25,000 the next month.

I then sent a check for $1,500 and raised the goal to $30,000. Both exceeded that.

So I went to $40,000 and a check for $2,500. Both of the reps hit new goals and stayed consistently at a very high level.

This proves that money is a significant motivator for successful sales reps. Power, displayed as the desire to change the mind of another, is just as important. Likeability is the essential quality to open doors, and character is absolutely essential.

It boils down to this: Hire nice people who want to make money. Reward them well. Thank them often with sincerely-expressed affirmation. And apply the characteristics of the millennials to your relationships with sales reps of all ages: authenticity, consensus, civic engagement, sincerity and a sense of contribution.

May you never lose a sales rep to a competitor for lack of affirmation!