Sales Management Issue: How Do You Motivate A Lazy Salesperson?

Maybe the better question is, can you motivate a salesperson who has a lousy work ethic? And then, where do you start the coaching process? From experience I can tell you that the hard-nosed approach will not miraculously cure the sales rep that likes to quit at 2:30PM and head for the driving range. Discovering why a salesperson is lazy is a decent first step. Why are some salespeople lazy:

  1. It’s in the gene pool or they never saw or learned from anyone what hard work looks like.
  2. They are satisfied at a certain income level and don’t see any reason to work any harder or smarter.
  3. They’re working two jobs or double-dipping.
  4. No one ever taught the rep how to write a plan and work it.
  5. The rep should not be in sales.
  6. The sales culture is lousy and the rep fits that culture. (Hard to believe but it could be true.)

The sales management position requires a fair amount of psychoanalyzing. People think and act based on certain triggers in their brain. If you can figure out the triggers then you have gone a long way in finding out what motivates people. When I managed salespeople I believed in having  “off the record”  one-on-ones. These conversations and what came from them did not make it on the annual review nor did they make it up the chain of command. There are times  in managing when “come to Jesus” meetings should stay between just two people.

I’ll follow up this post with a second installment later this week.

The Final Thought: LAZINESS, n. Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree.” Ambrose Bierce


2 thoughts on “Sales Management Issue: How Do You Motivate A Lazy Salesperson?

  1. Tom,

    Good question. I look at effort as the key driver in performance of a sales person. Even if results are good the lack of effort or laziness is a game breaker. It is not up to the manger to motivate the sales rep and I would only provide coaching once I see that the sales person is putting in some effort.


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