What mountains are your sales teams facing? How might you inspire them to be more engaged in their own success, as well as yours? What can you do together to reach the top of the mountain?

Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand mountain climber, and Tenzing Norgay, a Tibetan mountaineer, were part of the 1953 British Mount Everest expedition.

There were many previous unsuccessful attempts to reach the summit of the majestic mountain. But this time was different.

The two brave climbers managed to overcome all the harrowing obstacles they faced. On May 29, 1953, they were the first people to reach the very top of Mount Everest.

I recently worked with a frustrated business owner who compared his attempts at motivating his millennial sales team to climbing a mountain.

Describing his uphill battle, he said: “It’s difficult to keep my up-and-coming salespeople motivated. They get bored quickly. They disengage when hitting roadblocks, especially when the competition seems to be getting the upper hand.

How do I get them checked in and keep them checked in, no matter what they are up against? I really need their creative energy and insights to grow our business.”

It’s a legitimate question.

How can we create a culture that motivates millennial salespeople?

In my experience, high-growth leaders search for fresh ideas to get their teams, including their sales teams, focused on exceeding targets.

As a leader, you seek win-win scenarios so that everyone gets to the top. Where do you begin?

Start by lending a hand to your up-and-coming sales leaders so they know you want to collaborate with them to achieve their personal and professional dreams and goals.

When they know that you care about them and their careers, they will be more likely to help you achieve your sales and revenue growth goals.

Here are two coaching strategies that will keep your millennial salespeople moving forward at all times.

  1. Discover what might compel your millennial sales leaders to get to the top.

    The two climbers who reached the top of Mount Everest in 1953 didn’t do it alone.
    They had a backup team who stayed behind at the base camp, doing the important work of equipping them. The climbing team set out to achieve their goal with adequate preparation.

    Contrary to what many people believe, you can’t motivate your salespeople. “What? Are you serious?” I hear you say. Yes, I’m dead serious. Motivation comes from within.

    As a coach, you play an important role in helping your sales team get to the top. Your role is to set up a base camp that inspires your emerging sales leader to want to climb the mountain. So how do you do that?

    Know what compels them. Your sales leaders all have unique motivational wiring and will likely respond differently to common motivational elements. The key is to identify how they are energized:

    • Extrinsically: responding to monetary awards and public recognition
    • Intrinsically: striving to become better at their craft for their own sake
    • Altruistically: seeking to serve others for the sake of serving others

    This knowledge can influence your management and coaching decisions. Understanding their motivational preference can empower you to promote their journey, both professionally and personally.

  2. Gear up to reach the summit of leadership and sales potential.

    An experienced climber isn’t likely to attempt to get to the top of a steep mountain without the essential gear. In the “will to sell” backpack, your millennial sales leader will find the tools to guide their climb to sales excellence.

    Use your wisdom and experience to strengthen the following sales competencies:

    • Desire:

      Without an intense craving to be successful in sales, your emerging salesperson may fail.

    • Unconditional commitment:

      Are they willing to do whatever it takes (as long as it’s legal and not harming others) to achieve greater sales results? Will they stretch their comfort zones? Will they actively embrace and practice new skills so they can improve their results?

      In my experience helping clients, I’ve found that almost 40% of those who apply for a sales position aren’t willing to do the hard work to be successful. Regardless of how impressive their resume looks, if you hire them, you will likely be disappointed. If they are currently on your sales team, they could be the source of many management headaches.

    • Willingness to take responsibility:

      When your salespeople encounter obstacles, are they determined to overcome them, or do they blame others and make excuses? Unfortunately, research by Objective Management Group — an organization I use to process the surveys I give my own clients — shows that nearly 60% of salespeople have weak levels of responsibility. This can undermine their capabilities.

      The world of selling is like mountain climbing; there’s a constant array of new obstacles to overcome. The only guarantee is that they will frequently be meeting “no” along the route. To reach their sales summit, they may need to face obstacles, including rejection, with determination, resilience and grit.

Perhaps you’ve never attempted to climb a real mountain. Rest assured, your business and sales challenges have daunting similarities. What mountains are your sales teams facing?

How might you inspire them to be more engaged in their own success, as well as yours? What can you do together to reach the top of the mountain?

We might heed a quote that’s often attributed to Sir Edmund Hillary: “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

Leaders have the opportunity to create a motivational culture that engages up-and-coming sales leaders and business development representatives.

You can be the guide to help your millennial leader reach the top of his or her sales potential.

About the author

Danita Bye

Danita Bye, M.A. is a leadership and sales development expert. She has successful sales…

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