I hate shopping for a new car. I’d rather slide my fingernails across a chalk board. This weekend, as I hopped from one car dealership to another, I had an interesting convo with an extraordinary successful salesperson who  shared what motivates her on a daily basis. Daniel Pink would be smiling if he heard our discussion because she said it wasn’t about the money. 

I woke up Saturday morning with the intention of shopping for a new car. The best way to fuel my energy was to jump start the weekend with a yoga class. After 75 minutes of down dog’s, planks, and twists, I was relaxed and ready to hit the car dealership jungle on this cloudy balmy Syracuse Saturday afternoon. I hopped in my Red Chevy Silverado, barreled down Rt. 370, and mentally planned my day.

After entering the first dealer’s lot, I hadn’t perused the inventory no more than 10 seconds when I was greeted by a a tall lanky boomer sales dude with dark brown reddish dyed hair. “What can I help you with today?” he said with a disingenuous smile. After test driving a few models, “Red Fox” led me to the showroom. He danced on his calculator and ballparked a number including payment terms. After telling him I wasn’t ready to buy, the manager and owner surrounded me like a pack of wolves applying gentle pressure to “Let’s make a deal.” One down.

I headed to the next dealership. The salesperson was pleasant, informative, curious, though not pushy. He asked good questions.  I really liked his style. He’d been selling the same brand of vehicle for 16 years. He was a professional. This was a better experience than the first. I still wasn’t emotionally ready to sign.

I was tired of looking at cars and my stomach was talking to me saying, “Please take me to the Brooklyn Pickle.” Hands down, the best sandwich joint in Syracuse. Dreading going back out in the jungle, I slowly savored a corned beef on rye with Russian dressing and a cup of cream of chicken soup as I perused the latest edition of Syracuse New Times.

With belly happy, and lots of energy from the yoga class to spare, I felt I had one, maybe two more dealer stops in me. So, I mentally pumped myself up and envisioned good karma coming my way. I hopped into 17 MPG “Big Red”, heading in the direction of Dealer #3, frequently staring at the fuel gauge needle slowly moving towards E.

I decided to test drive a vehicle I previously scratched off the list of possibilities, feeling the model was a little too small for my larger frame. The 40 MPG highway rating on the sticker, is the only reason this model was still in the mix. This is a clear case of wrestling with cognitive dissonance. Do I sacrifice a little comfort, for fewer trips to the pump?

The only fun I get shopping for new wheels, is observing the salesperson’s selling style. Salesperson #3 was different. Let’s call her Maureen.  She wasn’t pushy. Mo talked to me like a regular person. No canned sales lines to make my skin crawl like, “What do I have to do to put you in a car today?”

We concluded the test drive and returned to the dealership. As I gingerly backed the 2012 leftover into the parking space, Maureen asked what I did for a living. “I’m an executive and leadership coach who partners with organizations to increase their performance” I said. Her eyebrows went up and I unintentionally sparked her interest.

Mo is the top selling salesperson at this particular dealership. In fact, she outsells everyone two to one. She’s a boomer, anti-salesy, plain spoken, unpretentious, etc. Just your average Mo. “If you were to work with a coach, what would you want to be different?” I said. For the next 10 minutes, she shared her thoughts and aspirations and we had an intellectually intoxicating conversation while still seated in the snug gas sipping ride.

What’s interesting? Mo’s not motivated by money, though she’s competitive in an unassuming way. Hubby makes more than enough to support their lifestyle. Mo’s -mo- is helping the customer find the right car for them and their lifestyle. She’s all about serving.

So, how do you get your salespeople to sell more? Bottom line, to motivate your team, understand their values. What are their main drivers? What makes them tick? You’ve got to go underneath a few layers to understand not only How they behave but Why they behave the way they do?

To increase the performance of your players, focus on the soft skills. The ROI is significant.

I’ve partnered with many sales teams to move them to another level. I deliver the results my clients want by focusing on the “who” of individual team members. This might sound woo woo at first, though the proof is in the numbers. The best part about my process? It’s fun!

How do you get the most from each player on your team? Please comment below.





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