What the Heck Does It Mean to ‘Win the Hearts and Minds’ of a Sales Force?


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Sales leaders are increasingly saying that they want training that wins the “hearts and minds” of their sales force, but what the heck does that even mean? What is at the root of winning the “hearts and minds” of sellers?

When we talk about winning the hearts and minds of sales professionals – we’re essentially talking about motivation. We want our sellers to be motivated to do what it takes to succeed in their job. We want to lead salespeople to success without managing them to death, and this is especially important in organizations that are looking to change the way their salespeople behave.

So the question then becomes, how do we motivate our sellers? There are two motivators that sales leaders often employ to drive a sales force: Compensation and Ego. ‘Compensation’ motivators provide some form of financial or tangible reward, while ‘Ego’ motivators feed the personal needs of success, self-worth, and self-image. However, there is another, often overlooked, motivator that trumps both Compensation and Ego, and that motivator is… Clarity of Task.

The idea of Clarity of Task as a motivating force is an underused concept, but it is not a new one. In fact, research from the Harvard Business Review Article dating back to 1980 shows that Clarity of Task is strongly related to on-the-job performance and effort. The study defines task clarity as “the degree to which there is a clear and positive relationship between exerting effort and attaining results.” Sellers who have very clear task clarity have both higher levels of motivation and higher levels of performance. This means, if you want to win the hearts and minds of your sales people, remove ambiguity from their lives and create a clear path to success. Clarity of Task.

So if you want to win the hearts and minds of your sales force, don’t just crank up the incentives and recognition – chances are that you’ve already done that many times. Instead, give them the guidance to remove ambiguity from their jobs. Create Clarity of Task, and then support the sellers and sales managers in a way that is highly targeted and relevant. When that level of clarity exists, then the sales force’s motivation, commitment, and performance will surely follow closely behind.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Michelle Vazzana
Michelle Vazzana is a partner at Vantage Point Performance and co-author of Cracking the Sales Management Code. Vazzana has more than 28 years of successful sales and management experience in the major account environment. For more information, visit www.vantagepointperformance.com.


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