Fueling Sales Performance

You want to build and sustain a high performing sales machine, but what is going to fuel its success?

Typically managers provide answers, such as;

  • ‘High quality sales leads’
  • ‘Effective marketing and demand generation’
  • ‘New hires to the sales team’
  • ‘Standards and processes’.

They are important ingredients of sales success, but are they really the high-octane fuel required to accelerate sustained sales growth and long term performance improvement?


What’s Really Going To Fuel Your Sales Effort?

The key to building a high performing sales machine goes beyond efficient processes, systems and strategies.  That is because a high performing sales machine will only go as fast as the people who drive it.

As one of our sales consultants puts it; ‘the ultimate speed-o-meter’ is inside the salesperson’s head’.  He of course is referring to the salesperson’s level of passion, motivation, resilience and sense of purpose.

the sales speedometer

When it comes to accelerating performance Racing Driver Ross Bently famously said ‘you gotta work on the nut behind the wheel before you start fixing bolts on the car.’  Going beyond ordinary levels of performance requires tapping into people’s passions, priorities and sense of purpose.  It starts with the head and the heart.


Igniting Sales Passions

Fueling sales performance (or ‘fuelling’ as it is spelt outside the USA) requires igniting sales passions.  That is key to accelerating, as well as sustaining sales growth.

Fuelling sales performance requires igniting sales passions

Fueling sales success requires igniting the passions of the men and women of the extended sales and marketing team.  So the question is:

How fired-up is your sales team?

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is ‘totally fired-up’ and 1 is ‘the complete opposite to being fired-up’ where is your team?   Your answer will go a long way to explaining the behaviors and performance of your sales team.

More interestingly if the level of passion and sense of purpose of your team is presently at a 5 out of 10, what would be the impact on sales performance and behavior of getting your team fired up to a level of at least 7 out of 10?


Understanding Performance & Behavior

To understand the performance and behavior of a sales person or sales team requires looking beyond personalities, processes and skills.

understanding sales performance

To understand sales performance you have to look to the underlying drivers of behavior – the passions, priorities and purpose of the individual sales person and the collective sales team.

Your team’s passion and sense of purpose is the high-octane fuel for sustained success.  Yet, this ultimate source of propulsion goes un-tapped within so many sales organizations.  That is because a large proportion of the sales management community has a dangerously skewed view of what motivates performance.


What’s Your Purpose or Passion?

What is required to motivate salespeople to perform at the highest levels?  That is a question that many sales managers struggle to answer.  The reason is that they fall victim to a number of common false assumptions regarding what motivates a sales team to high performance.

common false assumptions made by sales managers

When it comes to getting the most from their teams, sales managers often think it is all about money. They think that the purpose of the sales team is to reach target and that its passion is to earn commissions.

Clearly the purpose of the sales organization is to meet target, but is that really enough to drive superior performance?  Here is what leadership guru Peter Senge would say:

Passion for winning in sales

Sales targets are not enough to generate passionate commitment among your team.  Something more is going to be needed.  But what is it?

are sales targets enough?


If managers are asked to look beyond the target in terms of what motivates their sales people, many will offer up their mission statement as the purpose and the strategy as the passion.


where is the passion in sales?

However look at the data and these are just two more false assumptions about what motivate people to achieve high levels of performance.

Motivated By The Corporate Vision?

Most sales people don’t get fired up by the company’s vision or mission statement:

Are salespeople fired-up by the vision of their organization?

Only one in 4 salespeople is fired up by the vision for the future of their organization.  Of the other 3 salespeople, two have a vision that doesn’t fire them up and the remaining one salesperson has no clear vision at all.

There can be little doubt why most salespeople aren’t fired-up by their organizations vision, or mission – they weren’t involved in its creation!

whose vision is it?


It is what we call the ‘Moses Model’ where the leader goes off to discover the strategy, or mission,  writes it in stone and then proclaims it to the masses.  The problem is that people cannot simply be handed a mission or a vision – there needs to be engagement, ownership and buy-in if it is going to ignite their passions.

Managers cannot give their team a passion, or sense of purpose – that is clear.  But if the lack of engagement, collaboration and discussion is the reason why teams are not fired-up by their corporate vision, then the answer to firing-up them up is clear.  It is to engage, collaborate and discuss what matters to the team – to help the team to discover its values, vision and purpose through a process of listening, awarenss building and real dialogue. What are you and your leadership team doing to motivate and fire-up your sales team?