CJNg _ 2.jpgHi!


    My name is c.j., and here's the July 2008 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter.      


    I was talking to a number of senior Sales and HR Managers, and somehow the conversation went into how to motivate sales people to get better results.  Without exception, everyone I spoke to said that they will just pay the sales people more commission and incentives to motivate them achieve better results.  However, the responses they get from sales people in doing so are lukewarm at best.


    So, this month's topics are:

  1. Are Sales People Motivated ONLY by Money?; and

  2. Why Aggressive Closing will Make You Lose the Sale

    This issue's main article is on  "Are Sales People Motivated ONLY by Money?", and it looks into why monetary-based incentives fail to motivate sales people in some cases, and what you can do instead.


    In brief:

  • While money is a key motivator for sales people, it is far from the ONLY motivator;

  • Why using money as the sole means of motivating sales people is dangerous

  • Besides incentives and encouragement, enabling sales people how they can get better results through coaching, training and strategy alignment may inspire better performances and results.

    To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here (http://www.psycheselling.com/page4.html).

Are Sales People Motivated ONLY by Money?


by c.j. Ng

It is common knowledge that many sales people can calculate how much commission they have earned faster and more accurate than any super computer.  Indeed, money is a key driving force that motivates most sales people, and certainly for the more successful ones.

     However, is money then the ONLY motivator, or are there anything else?

     If you were to ask any sales people why they want to be a sales person, there will usually be 3 answers:

  1. For the money (of course);

  2. Being able to directly link their efforts to tangible results; and

  3. Having the (relative) independence and flexibility in their jobs

     As such, while money may be the key driver for most sales people, it certainly is not the only one.  Sales people are also motivated by a sense of achievement, and the more successful ones usually have large egos as well.

     If we were to look deep into what motivates people, here are 2 factors that we need to consider:

  1. Are the rewards attractive (or punishment severe) enough?

  2. Am I able to achieve it?

Avoiding Pain vs. Seeking Pleasure

     While making money is a great pleasure for many people, including sales people, some sales people are first motivated by avoiding the punishment of NOT achieving their monthly, quarterly or annual sales targets.  Hence, it's a very common practice for sales people to “hide” potential contracts to “save them for the next financial period”, rather than to risk NOT meeting the sales targets for that period.

     Sales people are indeed masters of work flow optimisation in this sense.  However, this does not help you in getting results from your sales team, and sometimes deals may be lost due to the delays caused when sales people want to “save them for the next quarter”.

     When companies use money as the only motivator, it is also a riskier proposition. There's nothing to prevent competitors to use the same motivator to entice your best sales people (along with your best customers) to defect.  While there may be some non-competitive clauses in employment contracts, these are seldom enforceable, especially in Asia.

As mentioned earlier, successful sales people usually have large (sometimes over-sized) egos.  Nothing feeds the ego other than believing (correctly or otherwise) that you had singlehandedly contributed millions of dollars to your company's sales revenue.  However, massaging the sales person's ego (either by making them superstars when they succeed, or "humiliating" them when they don't deliver the intended results) is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it will drive sales people to achieve super-human results.  On the other hand, sales people may be so focused on their self-achievement that they become insensitive to issues such as

  • Serving customer needs,

  • Maintaining healthy margins,

  • Ensuring cross department support and

  • other factors that will impact business results.

     When the egos become over-sized, sales people can have a false sense of “invincibility”.  Some sales people live on past glories, even when current sales results are not as good or outstanding as before.  To overcome this, Dell Computers have made sure that their sales people's egos are in check by just focusing on the present and future.  Past performance mean nothing to Dell's sales managers, and a top sales person is only as good as the next sale.  Sales people are as such motivated to maintain their "successful" status every single day.

Eventually, sales people get burnt out.  Depending on the industry, sales people usually achieve their peak about 1 to 1.5 years after joining a company.  How they perform beyond the peak period is a matter of how you motivate and nurture them.

Besides dishing out ever better incentives (usually money-related), many companies chose to promote their top sales to be sales managers.  Unfortunately, both motivational strategies are not effective.  When sales people feel burnt out, it's not an issue that can be resolved with money (or most incentives).  In addition, only 15% of top sales people can be competent managers (see our Feb 2008 issue for more details).

When sales people feel burnt out, it is usually sales people found that they are not further developing themselves or learning anything new anymore.  Usually, they found they have reached some kind of plateau in getting better sales results, and the repetition of doing the same old thing is becoming boring to them as well.

This is also the phase when good sales people are the most vulnerable to defecting to your competitors. To overcome this, we will have to looking into other overlooked motivators.

Can I Do It?

     As mentioned earlier, the other aspect of motivation is whether you feel you are able to do your job well.

     In some industries where sales management practices tend to be Neanderthal (email me to find out which ones), the attrition of new sales hires are astonishingly high. These new hires are motivated by making more money, just like any successful sales person will be. However, due to the lack of proper training, coaching and guidance, as much as 90% of these new hires leave within 1 month.  If they don't see brightness of the future, they'll just go.

While such companies do provide some level of sales training, as much as 87% of all sales training evaporates within 1 month of the training (See May 2008 issue for more details). And this statistic refer to companies with better sales management practices in place.  For companies with weaker sales management, most of these training are outdated and don't really prepare the sales person to handle customers in the real world.  Without a post-training supporting environment, the new hires feel overwhelmed and and helpless, and then they just leave.

When sales people find that they are not able to achieve better results, or net bigger deals, or improve margins, what they need now is support from management on how they can achieve breakthroughs.  They know that if they can do better, the monetary incentives are all there waiting for them.  What they really need is the right guidance and support them how they can do so.

Besides providing the usual training, here are other ways that managers can get their sales people proceed to the next level of performance:

  • Align sales strategies to market realities.  Sometimes, due to rapid market changes, sales strategies mapped out 6 months ago may have already be outdated.  A sales strategy re-alignment may help sales people close more sales;

  • Provide recognition of improvements in sales process.  While sales people are rewarded (or punished) based on results (sales targets), few sales managers actually recognise the improvements that sales people made in their sales process.  If sales people made sales process improvements, it is very likely that this will lead to better results.  Such improvements need to be recognised, reinforced and made as good examples for others to follow.

Motivating Sales People Without Using Money

In a nutshell, when sales people join the sales force, they may do so in the hopes of making more money.  However, if you want to get them to perform to the next level of performance, you will need to improve their skills and abilities to achieve better results.  In fact, management guru Ram Charan mentioned that if using incentives as the main means to get better performance from the sales team is an outdated approach (see second article in our April 2008 issue for more details).

     If you find isolated cases of poor performance from sales people, then perhaps these few sales people are just making excuses not to work hard.  However, if you find that poor performance is widespread and pervasive in your sales force, then you, as manager, are making THE excuse for not providing the necessary support and guidance for your sales people.

Directions Management Consulting will be providing advice and support to international companies who are looking to achieving business success in China.

For more information, please e-mail info@directions-consulting.com
or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha.  All information shall be kept in confidence.

How to Develop Winning Strategic Perspectives Using Best-Practice Strategic  Modelling (14-15 Aug 2008, Shanghai)

See http://www.directions-consulting.com/invitation_En_140808.pdf for details.  Pls. contact info@directions-consulting.com for special deals.

Power Breakfast Hour: 12 August 2008

How to Motivate Sales People WITHOUT Using Money


     Join China Sales Leadership and Performance Coach c.j. Ng in this one-hour breakfast meeting where he will be sharing with you the following insights:

  • Sales people are NOT just motivated by money alone;

  • Why using money as the sole means of motivating sales people is dangerous; and

  • How you can reduce your costs of monetary incentives by giving sales people non-monetary recognition for their efforts to get better results

VENUE: Le Equilles Restaurant, Ground Floor, Xin Jin Qiao Plaza, 23 Beijing West Road (by Xizang Middle Road), Shanghai.  Pls. enter via Citadines Apart'Hotel at 55 Beijing West Road.

DATE: Tuesday, 12 August 2008


TIME: from 08:00 a.m. - 09:00 a.m.

PRICE: Just Pay for your Own Breakfast (Est. RMB 50-100)

     To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The previous Power Breakfast Hour session was a sold-out and over-booked event within a week of notice. Please e-mail your registrations to sales@directions-consulting.com



Practical Tips for Sales People:
Why Aggressive Closing will Make You Lose the Sale

by c.j. Ng

One key technique that most traditional sales training teaches is "ABC" - Always Be Closing.

Unfortunately, unless you lock your customers in a room and throw out the key, if you are over-aggressive when closing, your customers will feel very pressured and agitated, and are likely to run away from you.

Studies had shown that when customers make major buying decisions, they need to be sure that they are making the right choice so that they will not regret making the buying decision.  However, showing potential customers the testimonials and references from previous customers isn't as good as simply asking them what concerns they have and help them resolve those concerns. 


This is different from the "objection handling" techniques that traditional sales training teaches.  Rather, as a sales person, you pro-actively as customers, "At this point, what are some of the concerns that this product/ service will NOT work for you?"

The method to this madness is: when customers have unresolved concerns, they are less likely to buy, or may have "buyers' remorse" after they buy (meaning they ask for refunds).  When customers don't raise their concerns, that does not mean that they don't have any concerns.  They may just feel uneasy raising those concerns with you.


After understanding their concerns, the next thing to ask is, "So what needs to be done next so as to help resolve some of those concerns you have?"


Then you help resolve the concerns, and guide the customer to buy from you.

This is not to say closing in selling is not important.  How you close the sale is a different body of knowledge altogether.  Customers don't like to be sold to.  They just want guidance on how to make better buying decisions.


The above suggestions are part of the C.H.E.A.P. model of asking questions, which can be found in our April 2008 issue.

Send your challenges face when handling customers to info@psycheselling.com .  We'll reply you within 48 hours. 

About PsycheSelling.com

Psyche-Selling TM is a wholly-owned brand of Directions Management Consulting Pte Ltd that specialises in the field of improving sales performance by enhancing the performance of the entire sales team.  Apart from the regular "selling skills training", Psyche-Selling TM conducts pre- and post-training analysis, interviews, monitoring and reviews, working closely with managers and even senior management, to deliver real improvements in sales leadership and performance.   

Directions Management Consulting Pte Ltd is a Human Capital Integrator that helps companies to improve business performances through people.

Psyche-Selling TM is currently a co-affiliate of the  HR Chally Group, together with  Shi Bisset & Associates, to help you identify gaps in your current sales force, and then formulate ways to help you get better results.

The HR Chally Group is a talent management, leadership development, and sales improvement corporation providing personnel assessment and research services for over 35 years.  Chally is recognised as an international technology leader in scientific assessment and prediction for selection, job alignment and leadership development, and for management assessment.  For more information about implementing Total Quality Sales Management in your company, pls. log on to http://www.psycheselling.com/TQSM-ExecBrief_email.pdf to get more insights.

Enquiries and suggestions, pls. e-mail info@psycheselling.com or visit www.psycheselling.com