By Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

There is an old saying in management that there are two ways to motivate people.  Carrots, which motivate staff in a positive way, and sticks, which motivate staff in a negative way.

Of course, that is a simplification, there are many ways to energise staff, but in this case, it’s pretty binary.  It is either positive or negative.

It’s the same when it comes to a social selling project and making sure you get the outcomes you expect.  If you are a reader of this blog you know there is no other measure than a positive uplift in incremental revenue.

We often get calls from people in marketing whose responsibility it is to roll out social selling who tell us that the project isn’t working. 

Or where management thinks that by giving the sales force Sales Navigator, something will happen.  It doesn’t.  Sales Navigator is like a Formula One (F1) car. We might all be able to drive, but I wouldn’t even try and drive a F1 car. Far too sophisticated.

Social selling: Don’t depend on webinars

Often social training has been delivered through webinars, which the sales force either didn’t turn up to or just ate their lunch without really paying attention.

There is also an “elephant in the room” that nobody talks about.  Sales people do not see how anybody can change what they are doing – especially people who have never sold.  This is because social selling is often positioned as “extra” work on top of updating the CRM, creating the forecast and all the other “admin” sales people have to do.  In other words, it may be a high priority to one person, but to the sales force it’s low priority.

This is why we use sales people to deliver our training, people who have “carried a bag”, and we only do our training face-to-face.

From hesitation to hugs

Certainly, in every course I’ve been in there is somebody at the back with their “arms folded” who usually says, “this is a load of rubbish”.  You can only find these people (who are often influential) when you are delivering training face-to-face.  And it’s great in fact to take the whole team along in the journey as once you get these people on board you are sailing.

I recall delivering training in the Netherlands where we had a “when I” at the back of the room.  Each thing we proposed, there was a comment from the back “when I worked at, we were told ….”.

Half way through the second day at a break he came up to me and hugged me.  He understood that we had empowered him and he started leading from the front.

This for me is all about carrots

Compare this with another recent experience. We were contacted by somebody in marketing who couldn’t get the sales team to do what she wanted.  We offered to help. But no, she was going to get using social written into the sales people’s terms and conditions.

This is clearly stick.

Dig for carrots (don’t dig in your heels)

As sales people, if we don’t want to do something we will try and find a way around it.

The answer will be simple.  If I’m forced to do this, then I will just automate it.

With social media automation, there is no engagement and it is obvious there is no authenticity.  Will the needle move?  No.

So you will force people to do something, without explaining or empowering them.  They will do something grudgingly, while probably feeling annoyed at the same time.  You will be back where you started.

When it comes to motivation, carrots always win over sticks.

Digital Leadership Associates: We are a Social Media Agency. We do three things: Social Media StrategySocial Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.

Picture credit: By Stephen Ausmus [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons