You can't jump a dead battery with a dead battery

I’ve been out working with a whole bunch of stations these last two months. We’re on-boarding all of our new partner stations for our UPGRADE Selling® program, and it’s been busy. Please note, I am not whining!!!!! We've added a lot of stations and that’s a good thing.

But what’s also exciting is that I’ve met some great leaders on these trips.

The great sales leaders I know share two characteristics that I admire and to which I aspire: they bring energy to their teams and they have the ability to energize others. 

It’s not enough to be energetic yourself. Really positive cultures get created when you’re able to energize others. When that happens, you can see a very clear difference in the performance of a team.

The headline of this article… you can’t jump a dead battery with a dead battery… is one of my absolute favorite quotes. I first heard it from Keith Harrell. Keith was on his way to being the next Zig Ziglar when he became sick and sadly passed away 5 years ago. He was an amazing motivational speaker. But this line is more than just rah-rah. Understanding that the energy of the leader sets the energy of the team is an important leadership lesson. 

Hey, I live in the real world. Missing budgets and having uncomfortable calls with corporate can be a reality. My top biller resigns or runs away with a client, or…

These are stressful jobs and they aren’t getting easier. Sometimes, maybe even a LOT of times, it’s hard to get our own energy up to where it needs to be. It’s hard to be positive when you’re going through tough times. I know that. But I also know that in these times, creating positive energy in our sales teams may be even more important than ever.

We’ve all heard that the speed of the leader determines the speed of the team. I also believe that the energy of the leader determines the energy of the team. You can’t jump a dead battery with a dead battery.

One of my most powerful sales management teachers used to say to his AE’s, “If you’re not red hot, how do you expect to warm up a client.” He’d tell them that if you put a pan of water on a red-hot burner of the stove, that pan would never get as hot as the burner. That’s because when I transfer energy, there’s always energy loss. So, keeping my burner hot when I present to a client is critical. If my burner is set on low… there’s not much chance that I’ll transfer energy to the client.

As managers, every day when we go into work, we need to be aware of where our burners are set. We need to be aware of how we can find some time for renewal. I actually talked about that for the first time at our most recent boot camp. So many sales managers are feeling burned out that it feels like a topic that needs to be openly discussed. I wrote one of these articles last year about my personal experience with meditation. Just a few minutes of quiet and time to reflect on all the things I have to be grateful for seems to clear the decks for me to be a lot more energized and enthused. Slow down to go fast.

It’s also about connecting with the amazing ability our products have to make a difference for clients. My favorite definition of enthusiasm is that the last four letters, I A S M, stand for “I Am Sold Myself.”

In whichever way you’re able to do it, the point of this article is to remind you, and me, that when we walk into our offices, our attitude and energy will have more impact than any of the words we say. You can’t jump a dead battery with a dead battery.

Thanks to all the great energized leaders who have inspired me to write this article.

Have a GSM or GM meeting in your future? Why not have Jim Doyle or John Hannon speak to your meeting about how to turn your sales staff into a Sales FORCE? We promise powerful, thought-provoking content customized to your company’s needs. Contact Jim Doyle at or call 941-926-SELL.