Confused About What Motivates Salespeople?

Confused About What Motivates Salespeople?

Let's Talk About Motivation…

When Brett Favre was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, he looked up at the sky and said: “Dad, I hope I made you proud”. 

Favre’s dad was a High School Football Coach.  He was a hard man to please.  He told Brett: “You play even if you’re hurt: I don’t want to see you coming off that field”. 

Brett didn’t let him down. He played 17 seasons; never missed a game.  And currently he holds virtually every passing record in the NFL.

He was as motivated as they come; externally (to gain recognition by pleasing his dad), internally (to achieve).


You Want Producers with GRIT: Passion and Perseverance to Keep on Keeping On

As you hire salespeople, you are looking for the same kind of GRIT that Favre had: “You don’t come off the field unless you’re so hurt you have to crawl off on your belly”, said his dad Irving Favre.

But, pleasing his dad wasn’t the only motivation that drove Brett.  He had a fire burning in his belly.  He was a gun-slinger.  He wanted to get the ball down the field, and he didn’t really care how he got it done; run or throw.  He was achievement oriented (Intensity/Drive).


There are Two Sources of Motivation

As you interview producers, you’re looking for what motivates them as salepeople. As you know, motivation comes from two sources, internal and external. 

  • Internal motivation is known as Intensity/Drive. It’s that insatiable desire to make something happen, to achieve. 
  • External motivation is a Drive for Public Recognition. They want to be noticed and will do whatever it takes to be seen and recognized for what they’ve accomplished.


Leader’s Role in Motivation

If you are fortunate enough to have hired motivated producers, then your next step is to have a strategic way to keep that motivation burning hot; that’s the role of leadership.

Producers with strong Intensity/Drive, believe they are going to win.  To keep them motivated, you need to give them daily activities, so they can get short-term wins.  If it were basketball, you would show them the stats after every game.  Then set a goal for the next game to improve on specifics, such as turnover ratio, free-throws made, points scored by the person you are guarding.  The point is, winning the game (a long-term result) or winning the conference championship (longer-term result) doesn’t provide enough wins to keep their fire burning, to keep the energy turned up.


Daily Activity Goals for Internally Motivated Producers

If this were a salesperson, you’d have daily activity goals. You’d set a clear number of dials to be made and number of appointments set.  When they go on sales calls, you’d set goals with them on how many pains they can find with the prospect.  The point here is this; they need a lot of quick wins to stay motivated so hold them accountable to activity, not results (they’ll get the results).


Recognize the Externally Motivated

If you have someone that is externally motivated, then they have a Drive for Public Recognition. They can be rewarded by contests, trophies, or recognition in front of their peers.  If they score low on Drive for Public Recognition, then you need to recognize them on a more personal level, one to one, not in front of peers.


To Build a High-Growth Agency, You Need High-Activity Producers

If you want to build a High-Growth Agency, it’s imperative to hire High-Activity Salespeople.

In all my conversations with agency owners, seldom do I hear: “We have a team of amazing prospectors. We just need help closing the deal”.  Instead they generally ask: “What can you do to help us fill up the pipeline?”. 

So, be careful going into your next interview.  Don’t buy into your candidate’s ‘pitch’ about how motivated they are. 


Two Things:  Improve Your Interview Process and Learn What the Personality Test is Telling You

To protect yourself as an agency owner, you need to do two things: 

1) Change your interview process

2) Change your personality test (or at least become a student of what it’s telling you).


Evidence Based Hiring:

There was more than enough evidence to put OJ Simpson behind bars, but the jury was sympathetic to who OJ was and the lawyers played to that sentiment.  Before you make an offer, you need evidence, not just hearsay. You need evidence that your producer candidate has the traits you are looking for.  If you haven’t developed your Evidence Based Hiring process, then it’s time to consider building that skill.


Personality Test: 

There are 1,000s of personality tests.  There are only a few that were designed to hire salespeople.  And, the first thing you should be concerned about is the producer’s ability to ‘game’ the test.  If you don’t have reliable answers, you don’t have a reliable hiring process. 

The second thing you should be concerned about is just accepting that your producer candidate hit the 777 that someone told you was acceptable. If hiring new producers was a low risk adventure, it probably wouldn’t matter whether or not you understood what the profile was telling you about them.  But, it is high risk. And to compound the problem, if you do hire your candidate, you have to find a way to get the most out of them.

When interviewing for these traits, be cautious.  Your candidates will tell you that goal achievement is a big deal to them, mostly because they’ve been coached to say that.  You need to find ways to verify and validate, or you’ll be holding the bag on a salary for someone that doesn’t have the attributes of a High-Activity Salesperson. 

The GPI (Grit Personality Inventory) was designed for hiring producers. Give it a try.


Take a sneak peek at the only program with sales training, executive coaching, and a powerful CRM designed to take insurance agencies from “mediocre” to an “Agency Growth Machine.”

Are you an Agency Owner with 4-10+ Producers?

(And need a system to train & develop them?)
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