Europe did it again. Golf’s superb Ryder Cup was suitably retained. Americans vanquished, disintegrating into frustrated recrimination.
In one for Sales Management, in the following day’s Times, Matthew Syed compiled an essay on the overdue influence given to the supposed motivational speech prior to elite sporting performance.
It’s worth noting that the author concerned does not enjoy any monopoly on wisdom in this regard. The day before he was rightly admonished on live radio by football Double winner and League title claiming manager George Graham. For his ludicrous assertion that a football captain has little influence.
Yet what clearly struck me was his reference to “salespeople about to give a key pitch”.
The article is subscription only online, so I took a pic of the actual newsprint paragraph (up top).
The journo’s argument would have been tighter had he not so outrightly dismissed the rah-rah and instead leant more on the subtleness of final wording and delivery.
For within his contentions lurk some cracking points. Well borne out through a career of pitch advisement. They notably include these trio of references;
the peerless cycling supremo Dave Brailsford’s “quiet, forensic and empathetic” “serving” of his riders.
“Even in many companies, fear is used as a motivational tool. The truth, however, is that creativity, vitality and joy are all inhibited by fear.”
and quoting former cricketer Ed Smith, “He asks us to imagine one’s wife about to undergo the knife in the operating theatre. How would you talk to the surgeon?” Smith asks. “Or would you try to avoid adding further anxiety to an already fraught situation?” “
I grew up managing with one mantra given to me by an early boss serving me well ever since; “When did you ever respond well to a bollocking?”
I’ve delivered countless ‘motivational’ speeches in terms of last-minute, final words before the big pitch. And at a kind of ‘half-time’ too.
The above triplet all show the winning way.
Salespeople certainly don’t need ‘motivating’ before a big pitch with fire and brimstone. But they do often require a little re-calibrating. A touch of focus, re-applied. Belief cemented. If ‘motivating’ can also mean being reminded that they can and will perform, then motivation it so is.
I know I’ve a tendency to remind my charges of the process in the wings before the peformance. A bit like a worldclass actor on an opening night, nail their early lines and they’re off and running on autopilot, credence and applause flows ever further with each progressive line.
To inhabit such space though, you must know your winning process to start with. Know yours and each ‘speech’ built upon it will duly motivate, inspire and lead to success.