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October 23, 2014

Motivating your sales team with SCARF

sales manager, motivate your sales staff with SCARF

One of the questions on most sales managers’ lips is, “How do I get my sales team motivated so that it can hit its sales targets?”

To answer the question it would probably be a good idea to explore some of the work in neuroscience to see if we can get “our brains to get along with one another”. This may make a difference to team motivation.

To this end, I thought that unpacking Dr. David Rock’s SCARF model might help find a way to motivate our sales teams.

David Rock is the author of Your Brain At Work.

As you probably already know, our brain seeks out pleasure and tries to find ways to avoid pain.

Sometimes the way we lead our teams lead to the fight or flight response. Some team members will go inward and flee (become passive aggressive) and others will fight and lash out openly.

Either way is bad because it leads to conflict … overt and covert.

So, the trick is to give our teams more pleasure than pain if we want to keep them motivated.

The SCARF Model

  • Status Our relative importance to others. Acknowledging status, expertise and how we fit in encourages engagement. Ignoring status can lead to a fight or flight reaction. So, as a sales leader it is a good strategy to talk your staff up. Acknowledge how important each individual sales person is to you and your organisation. Be encouraging and not negative and discouraging.
  • Certainty Being able to predict the future. Uncertainty about what will happens leads to fear and a defensive reaction. Make your sales team feel safe by giving it a road map and a destination. And, make sure they know that you as sales leader have their back.
  • Autonomy A sense of control over events. Feeling we have a choice and what we do matters. When we feel there is no choice we become resentful or defensive. This one is hard for most leaders – give your team space to breathe. Resist micro managing. Set targets and goals for them and then let them choose how they are going to achieve those targets.
  • Relatedness A sense of connection. Feeling we belong to the tribe/group. When we feel ostracised we disengaged. Create a common purpose for your team. Don’t berate or demean a team member in front of others (actually, don’t demean anyone, ever!).
  • Fairness Perception of fair exchange. When we feel something is unfair we often seek justice. Fairness is ingrained within us and can help build a relationship or destroy it. Letting some team members get away with murder, having favourites and not being consistent leads to a serious sense of unfairness. This is a sure recipe for discontent in your team.

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