Don’t Fire Them,Fire Them Up!

Years ago, many years ago now, I read a book titled “Don’t fire them, Fire them up!” it was written by Frank Pacetta, an executive at Xerox at the time, and as the title states it was all about getting people fired up so that they would be great salespeople. The little book has stuck with me for years, in fact, I still think about it today when I see the way some companies treat their salespeople. They blame them for lack of sales even, when their own product is lousy and late. They accuse the of being “too much on the customers side” as if there ever could be such a thing. And, in many cases it is the company leader who leads the charge, when it comes to berating the sales team for not bringing in the sales in a “timely fashion” which means in nice even monthly buckets that will avoid the peaks and valleys of business that tends to mess with their nice and neat ideas of production control.

I’ve often written about the company owner who insisted on coming in the last hour of a three day twenty five thousand dollar annual sales meeting and berating his sales team, tearing them from proverbial limb to limb about what a bunch of bums they were and if they did not shape up, they would all be shipping out soon, before verbally kicking their buts out the door, and back to their territories to do a great job for him this year…for a change. And in the end, he was right, because the entire sales team all six of them left for greener, and shall we say, friendlier pastures as soon as they could pull it off. And of course, once they did that, all of them. This made that idiot owner more convinced than ever that salespeople were “all disloyal bums”, and he was glad they were all gone. He closed his business a
few years later…of course.

If you dear reader, dear company leader take nothing else away from these humble scribblings of an old sales guy, please take this simple but true lesson: The way your salespeople act, the way they perform will be directly proportional to how you treat them. It’s as simple as that. If you treat your sales team like a band of winners, they will win. They will go out in the world with the clear eyed confidence of true winners who can conquer the world, and yes, they will conquer the world, or at least your marketplace.

Just like a sports team, a sales team has to be lead. It has to be encouraged, it has to be motivated and most of all it has to be inspired. And, if you are willing to do that…you will never have a problem with your sales team again.

Here from one of my favorite little books (I love little books!) “Minute Motivators for Leaders” by Stan Toler are some of the great characteristics of true leaders. Please take these to heart, copy them down, and use them every day not just with your sales team, but with all your people.

  1. Leaders accentuate the positive: They focus on the good things, including the good attributes of their own people and grow them
  2. Leaders put actions to their ideas: They not only talk the game, they walk it as well, showing the way to everyone, especially those they are leading.
  3. Leaders are servants: They believe that management is an inverted pyramid with them at the bottom, supporting all of those who report to them, eliminating any obstacles to their ultimate success.
  4. Leaders empower and release the team: They are not afraid to encourage their people perform at a high level. They love hiring people who are smarter than them knowing that the better the team the better the company will be.
  5. Leaders reward excellence: They make sure that a person who does a great job is recognized both privately and in public.
  6. Leaders really care about people: This is a very important characteristic of leaders. To be a great leader you have to genuinely like and care about your people. You have to have true empathy for what they face every day and try to support them to make every day a success both for them and in turn the company.
  7. Leaders value team diversity: They understand that the more diverse a team is, the better it will be.
  8. Leaders focus on the mission: They need to be mission-focused at all times because they need to keep their team mission-focused at all times.
  9. Leaders get acquainted with the team: They have to know everyone on their team. That the people who work for them are not numbers, they are flesh and blood people and the leader has to understand and now each team member as individuals, including what it takes to motivate them.
  10. Leaders love people: Yes, this goes with the job. You might not like everyone, but you have love them with the care and commitment and investment that will in the end make each member of your team great and hence your team great. Once again, think abut these ten points, study them, make them part of your everyday work, heck even your own existence and you will be a better person and a better leader.

It’s only common sense.

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