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The Ruby Group | Akron and Columbus, OH

Motivation & Mindset

Many seasoned sales managers today are facing a common challenge: how to lead, motivate, and inspire young Millennials on their sales teams. This generation, which will make up roughly 50 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2020 and 75 percent of the workforce in 2030, has already garnered a reputation for being difficult to manage by traditional standards.

Take a look at your workforce. Chances are high that it's generationally diverse, with Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials working at every level. That last cohort – Millennials, Gen Y, Generation Next, etc. – has been the subject of boundless research and discussion in the past 15 years. Often when older generations discuss younger ones, the context is negative and may include words like entitled, unmotivated, and tough to manage. As a leader, when your young Gen Y employees aren't meeting your expectations, it's easy to tag the issue as a "generational defect."

Want to hear a troubling statistic? The US Department of Labor estimates that a bad hire costs your business 30% of that employee's potential year-one earnings. This is a conservative estimate, too. It's difficult to calculate the loss incurred when you hire the wrong person for your business. Every manager and business owner has dealt with bad hires. Maybe they started out seemingly stellar, fitting your company culture seamlessly and producing exceptional results. Or, maybe you were in a rush to fill seats and let bad seeds slip through without proper vetting

It's a common notion to believe that leaders at different levels should have a different set of skills. However, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman of the leadership development consultancy Zenger Folkman write in Harvard Business Review that leaders should be practicing the same core skills that have driven them from their first day in the workforce, no matter how high they rank.

"A person's burning desire to achieve something must come from within." You've set lofty goals for 2014 but have you also built the plan to achieve them? Often we fall into the trap of setting goals without 'building a plan' to achieve them. If you decide to make one change this year – 'build the plan and then implement it'

I am a "serial goal setter"! I have used goals all my life to chart my path and measure my progress. Perhaps it's my need to be in control that has driven me to do this or my desire to anticipate what may be looming over the next horizon. Be that as it may, I do know that far too many sales people allow others to chart their course.

I didn't begin my business life with a burning desire to become a career salesman. As shocking as it is now, I actually thought that I might become a dentist until it registered that I would really have to put my hands in some other person's mouth.

Let's admit it. No salesperson likes making cold calls. Prospecting is perhaps the most stressful and anxiety ridden aspect to sales. 

I was sitting in a coffee shop reading a book in early November when I overheard two salespeople talking about the current state of their business. One was explaining to the other that he looked forward to this time of year because all his customers were out of money and all of his prospects were going to wait until next year to purchase.

As a salesperson, your job is to go to the bank. Go to the bank as often as possible, repeat the steps that have gotten you there in the past, and lose the habits that ever slowed your progress there.

Why? Why do we get up every day and go to work? Because we have bills to pay: Really? Listen to the news-not paying your bills is now as much a status symbol as a Gold Card in the 1980's. Because that's what is expected: Really? In most companies, the last time you saw your job description was the day you interviewed-and you don't know what is really expected, do you? Because employees depend on us: Really? Management texts say a great manager implements systems that will operate well when management is not there. Really it's because Mom or Dad said so

Q: What's the one thing a salesperson must avoid if they are to be successful? A: I study salespeople for a living. The majority of them don't lose because of product inferiority, pricing excesses or poor sales technique. They lose because of low self-esteem! We all start out with perfect self-esteem. Ever met any three-year-olds with self-esteem problems? Didn't think so

I have been doing a lot of traveling during the last two months. In spite of Chicago's brutal weather and some minor inconveniences, my flights and hotel reservations have gone remarkably smoothly and I have experienced a high level of customer service.

Last week, my clients and I were talking about how to respond to adversity. If you made it through that message and you still have your head up high and your eyes forward, you might be asking the question: "What do I do now?" When we say something like: "There are people who say there is a recession, I decided not to participate," we are not being cute and we are not putting our head in the sand.

Recently, I found myself absorbed with the notion of influence. I wondered aloud who the great influencers of our time are, then wondered further how each had reached their influential positions. A voice in the room, that of a top trusted advisor, shot back, "The number-one salesman in the world is a kid who wants ice cream!" We laughed.. Yet buried in that answer was delicious truth.

Last week, I found myself trapped in a fast food restaurant. This restaurant boasts that they have served more than six billion. Still, the people in front of me seemed to be having a new experience; they simply could not decide between meal one and meal two. To call them indecisive would be an insult to equivocators all over the planet.

With the great economic storm over the last year, many businesses wisely pulled back into safe harbors for a period of time. In fact, those that failed to make adjustments and continued their course were likely wiped out or at least seriously damaged. Unwise use of credit and perhaps a bit of bad luck has taken its toll on many. However, perhaps you are one of those businesses that made the proper course corrections by making the difficult and sometime painful choices.

There are a lot of good reasons to pick up the phone and reach out to new prospective customers. When it comes to finding new business opportunities, the phone offers a high level of efficiency, is relatively inexpensive, and is a great way to gather valuable information that can help us find business.

Whoever said talk is cheap didn't know much about sales. Talk-too much talk, that is-can cost a lot. This is a difficult lesson for many sales professionals to learn, and that's understandable. People in sales tend to have outgoing personalities. They enjoy good conversation, and the longer they are in sales, the better they get at making small talk, establishing an emotional connection with the prospect, and driving a conversation toward the specific end of closing a sale

It's March Madness time, which I enjoy, but not always for the same reasons my friends do. Because I'm in sales, it's fun just to watch the teams execute their strategies and then try to figure out how these strategies apply to my own profession. And what stands out, season after season, is how predictable the plays have become and how easily they can be countered