How to Train Cats and Salespeople
Which do you think
would be harder to train, a cat or a salesperson? Seriously, which
one would you pick? While it's true that cats have a well-deserved
reputation for being independent, demanding and virtually impossible
to train, the same can be said for many salespeople. Surprisingly,
the same training and reward techniques required to get Fluffy to
jump through a hoop can also be utilized to motivate your sales team
to achieve peak performance!
One evening while
channel surfing I came across a fascinating animal act that grabbed
my attention. The act featured a cat trainer with a half dozen cats
of varying size, shape and color. Unlike a circus lion tamer who
attempts to intimidate with a chair and whip, this man simply used a
combination of treats and verbal praise to motivate his cats to
perform difficult tricks. Using only soothing voice tones and a
pocket full of cat treats, he would calmly command each cat to do
its own specific trick. Amazingly, he got one cat to walk on his
front paws, one balanced on a ball, while yet another pushed a toy
baby stroller across the stage.
performance, the cat trainer was interviewed and asked how he was
able to get his cats to willingly obey his commands. His response
surprised me with its simple wisdom. He said that he didn't train
the cats at all, he simply figured out what each cat liked to do
best and then encouraged that behavior! "People need to realize that
a cat's indifference doesn't mean they can't learn cool tricks,"
says celebrity animal trainer Joel Silverman. "It simply means you
haven't convinced them yet that doing so is in their best interest.
A dog naturally wants to please you and will work for you, but a cat
needs a paycheck to be motivated."
Here are five tips to help you train cats and salespeople:
1) Temperament testing is a must! Before you invest your time and energy into training make
sure you check for temperament suitability. Temperament testing
allows you to identify those who by nature lack the discipline,
desire or self-motivation to consistently achieve peak performance.
Sales managers who lack the benefit of temperament understanding are
inclined to place too much emphasize on their gut-level feeling
during the hiring process. If you hire someone that is not suited
for the position, you will experience low morale, high turnover and
find yourself constantly in the training mode. On the other hand,
when you recruit the right person you will find that they are
self-motivated and eager to train.
2) Look for "hot buttons". Traditionally, sales managers have relied primarily
on commission to motivate their sales force. Unfortunately, a
compensation structure based solely on commission does not address
individual motivational factors and therefore, money alone will not
motivate your sales force. A successful incentive program is a
mixture of awards, recognition and peer pressure. There is
tremendous power behind a timely word of praise or a handwritten
note acknowledging achievement. While money is certainly an
important ingredient in any incentive program, it should by no means
be the only tool in a manager's motivational toolbox. If money by
itself were a sufficient motivation, commission-based salespeople
would simply sell more without additional enticement.
3) Make the training fun and positive.
All cats and most
salespeople have pretty short attention spans and low boredom
thresholds. Keep lessons short, interesting and always try to end on
a positive note.
4) You must be patient when training cats or salespeople.
It's important to respect individual abilities and preferences. Make
allowances for personality, and don't get frustrated if the training
schedule doesn't go exactly as expected. Remember that people have
off days and on days just like cats. "When I'm really pushing and
the going gets tough," says Silverman, "sometimes the cat just sits
down and says, 'I give up'. Even the brightest cats, if they feel
you're pushing them too hard, will, in effect, say, 'Screw you,
buddy, I'm going to go over there, sit down, and stare into space."
5) Make sure to take time for rest and relaxation.
All work and no
play will make the cat, the salesperson and the trainer grumpy.
Whether it is playing with a ball of yarn or enjoying a round of
golf, taking time out to play is critically important. By
successfully balancing play and work, you will return recharged,
refreshed and ready to accomplish more.
these five powerful tips into your training program, you will
develop an award-winning sales team and achieve unbelievable
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