Our first quoted participant in the Linked In Sales question is Kenneth Lund. Kenneth is a commercial account manager in Oslo Norway.
I love this first response to our sales equals leadership question at Linked In. Why? I love it because not only does it address the issue of how sales and leadership are similar but it also opens the door to a very critical leadership question. Is motivation an external or internal event?
You see external motivation is fleeting if not pointless for anything more than an immediate term. We have all seen the movies where the inspirational coach rallies the team at half time to overcome the odds and win the big game. That story line is so old it would not surprise me to learn that the first ever sports movie used this theme (and every other one after). This is short term emotional motivation it is unsustainable and like every other emotion it is subject to change.
For those of you who are thinking what the heck is he talking about hang with me. I will eventually get back to Kenneth and the whole sales thing.
Motivation is a primarily internal event that can be influenced by external factors. I can threaten you to do as I say or you will lose your job. That is an external motivating factor. Again how long does it last? It lasts about as long as the employee figures you are paying attention. No what we need to do as leaders is create an environment where employees want to excel, they want to perform. We do this be ridding the environment of my favorite technical term stupidity by management. We do this by creating systems that reward the right behaviors and outcomes. We create a system that provides real time feedback to employees on how they are performing. We do this by fostering pride and team spirit.
Back to Kenneth…
Kenneth mentioned in his comments the contrast between motivating customers and employees. To motivate employees we must communicate with them he says.
A customer can be persuaded to buy from you, and to believe that you are the one person that can help him. A team member, or employee on the other hand, I believe, can never be persuaded to do a good job or change his or her way of work, you have to make the team member or employee understand your goals and motives for doing things, and makes your team understand what are the goals of the department and/or company.
So are sales and leadership the same thing Kenneth?
Are they similar – Maybe I would have to say.
Kenneth is correct the analogy of comparing sales to leadership only goes so far.
But certainly far enough to see that influence and persuasion are very similar and this aspect is central to both roles.