Small Fires Make Little Heat

A salesperson without desire is like an oven without a flame. You can’t cook much with it. Salespeople should be the most goal-driven in any organization because, without their hard work of bringing in sales, no one else really has a job. So, it would stand to reason that a salesperson with a passion for achieving great things for themselves or their company will usually produce average results. Should this be fixed? Yes. Can it be done? Of course. Will it be easy? Well, that depends.


All salespeople like the lowest hanging fruit. In a world of constant rejection and uncertainty, who could blame them. It’s the easiest way to explain the high resistance against prospecting and cold calling. But small fires make little heat and little desires bring little results. Who can cook great things in an oven with little fire? What is a salesperson with tiny goals and small desires? You want a sales team that hungers for success and here are 5 simple (but sometimes hard) things you can do to build big fires that make a lot of heat.


  1. Set lofty goals – Too often we are afraid of scaring away salespeople by giving them goals that might be too hard that cause a rift between sales and management. Set low goals, get low results. Remember, you don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect and you aren’t inspecting the progress of lofty goals, the goals will not likely be met.
  2. Create proper incentives – Management gets this wrong more often than I care to share. The ones that get it right have a strong sales force. Remember, the more a salesperson sells, the more the cost of sales associated with them decreases. They become more profitable. Tiered incentives demonstrate to the salesperson that not only do you believe that these lofty goals are possible but worthwhile.
  3. Don’t be afraid to challenge salespeople – Many owners and managers feel like they are being held hostage by their salespeople. As long as they are bringing in sales, that means they have control in the employment relationship and if you disrupt this you risk losing them and their sales. This is rarely true and, unless you have a real rockstar on your team (why challenge them when they challenge themselves), most salespeople will usually not push back? Why, because pushing back is too challenging. Do you see the fallacy in this loop?
  4. Stop rewarding mediocrity – How many times have you given salespeople a participation trophy? Way too many of us do. Your reasoning is noble in that you want to offer positive reinforcement and help people improve. But over time this becomes enabling and we communicate to average salespeople that being average in sales is ok. Is it?
  5. Coach them – Most salespeople are too proud to ask for help and some go so far as to resist it. Don’t let them fool you. Show them that you care by showing them that you care. You don’t have to micromanage them, but show them that you are paying attention because you want them to succeed and help them through their challenges. 

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