5 things sales managers can learn from public speakers

by Steli Efti

5-things-sales-managers-can-learn-from-public-speakers.jpg

“We need to increase our calling volume by 20% to reach our goals for this quarter.”

Think your sales reps are feeling pumped? Probably not.

If you’re managing a sales team, you’re not just there to make sure your reps are crushing their quotas. You’re more than a manager—you’re a coach and a mentor. You’re there to inspire and motivate.

And who does that better than anyone else? Public speakers. Think Simon Sinek. Think Tony Robbins.

So let’s talk about how you can rally the troops and build a more motivated and productive sales team. Here are 5 things sales managers can learn from public speakers.

1. Harness your strengths

What are your interpersonal skills like? Becoming great at motivating your sales team starts with understanding how you best connect with other people. Ask yourself this:

  • What are your strengths?
  • What do you need to work on?

Make a list of your best traits and tap into those to become more engaging. If you can figure out what’s the best way for you to communicate, your message will be delivered more effectively to your team.

But good communication isn’t necessarily about talking. Say you’re a good listener. There’s more to being a good listener than just hearing the words come out of a person’s mouth. A good listener asks questions and encourages you to provide clarification. Most importantly, a good listener isn’t judgmental.

Compare these two conversations:

Sales rep: I’m down 22% in my personal sales this week.

You: Better step up your game if you want to hit your targets.

Sales rep: I’m down 22% in my personal sales this week.

You: Why do you think that is?

See the difference? Which one of the above approaches do you think will generate a better outcome and motivate the rep to analyze the situation and take action?

On the other hand, let’s say you’re not a great listener. In fact—you suck at it. What can you do to get better? Start with these core principles:

  • Don’t start talking immediately; take a minute to reflect on what the speaker just said
  • Paraphrase what the speaker said to make sure you understood them correctly
  • Ask clarifying questions to dig deeper into an issue

All right, let’s do a little exercise. If you’re reading this, open this doc right now and share at least one strength and one weakness. I’ve shared some of mine to get the ball rolling. (Feel free to be anonymous.)

2. It’s not about you

Yes, you’re the sales manager. That doesn’t mean you’re the “boss.” In fact, you work for your team as much as they work for you.

Public speaking works in a similar way. It’s not about the speakers themselves. It’s all about the audience.

Start by asking your sales reps this: Why are you here and what do you want to accomplish?

Once you know what drives them, you’ll be able to motivate them more effectively. But don’t do this just once. Ask that same question every now and then to keep your finger on the pulse and see if something has changed.

3. Share your experiences

Everyone loves a good story.

A good story and a narrative can be key to delivering valuable information. Whether that story contains struggle or triumph doesn’t matter—as long as the lesson is there.

Illustrate a point with examples. Don’t be afraid to step away from being informational. Your team knows everything there is to know about this month’s targets. Instead, think about an example that would inspire action.

Share a story they can relate to that had an outcome they desire. Something that would make your sales reps ask themselves, “How can I get there?”

Let’s talk about Flavio Rump. Flavio ran the marketing department at a successful company in Europe which eventually sold for millions. One day he came to me and said he really wanted to learn sales. So I offered him a 30 day internship.

I thought I had just hired the most overqualified sales rep in the universe. Turned out he sucked. It was painful to hear him on the phone. But he was committed to making things work, so he hustled. (This included concierge onboarding at 9 p.m.) Soon, he actually started closing deals even though he was only supposed to qualify trial signups.

Want the full story? Head this way and let this story inspire you.

4. Exercise confidence (but be vulnerable)

When it comes to great speakers, confidence is key. But confidence isn’t something that comes naturally to most people.

Here are a few things you can do to build your confidence:

  • Think positively: “Today we’re going to crush our targets.”
  • Take risks: Start small by doing an A/B test or changing up your email templates.
  • Be honest with yourself: Everyone has flaws and everyone’s learning. That’s okay.
  • Ask for external validation: Everyone needs a pat on the back every now and then.
  • Get out of your comfort zone: Practice doing the things you feel insecure about.

Confidence comes in many different forms. It’s about being comfortable in yourself and your expertise. That confidence expresses itself differently depending on your personality. Find your style and what works for you.

Being confident also means having the ability to be vulnerable. Admit your flaws and failures and don’t be afraid to say, “Guys—I fucked up.”

It builds trust and credibility when a person is willing to admit they were wrong, so embrace your wrongdoings.

5. Keep giving

Just like the relationship between the speaker and their audience, the more you give to your team, the more you’ll get back from them.

Give them the freedom to take action, challenge themselves, and experiment. Because experimentation and trying new things are just as important in sales as any other profession.

  • Ask your reps what they can do to have a bigger impact
  • Ask them what’s holding them back, if anything
  • Ask them what they would do if there were no obstacles or repercussions for their actions

You might be surprised about the ideas people will generate. Let them decide how to make a sale without following a script or a process. In the end, their freedom to create impact will benefit the entire team.

Make motivation a part of your sales culture

There is no “ON” button for motivation. You have to do the work. Every team is different and motivation isn’t something that happens overnight. You’re still the coach working with your team. The sooner you figure out what they care about, the sooner you can develop new ways to motivate them.

Try the above principles to infuse energy into your team before they start lagging along with the numbers.

Is your team pumped to close more deals? Try Close.io for free for 14 days and see your numbers soar.

Recommended reading:

Sales team management: How to inspire change from within
Your latest sales strategy isn't working. How do you, as a sales manager, convince your sales rep to accept your new strategy? It begins with you.

10 most common mistakes new sales managers make
Being a new sales managers is filled with triumphs and pitfalls. These are the top 10 mistakes new sales managers make, mistakes I've made so you don't have to.

The #1 avoidable mistake 99% of sales managers make
It's a small mistake but too many sales managers are making this mistake—and it's HURTING their sales reps' performances. Fortunately, it's easy to fix.