Right, first things first, you need some brightly coloured, ill-fitting cycling shorts and moves like Derrick Errol Evans (Google it) from the early 1990’s. Problem solved…or is it? Keeping morale up and revenue flowing is hard, more so during challenging times. As the world works towards finding its footing again, here are ways to help keep your sales team focused, productive, and generally as happy as pigs in poop.
The foundation of motivation is trust. If your team doesn’t trust you and doesn’t believe you have their best interests at heart, it’ll be difficult for them to feel inspired and driven by their work. When salespeople are unmotivated, you won’t be able to re-inspire them unless you have an open and honest conversation about their challenges and goals – something that simply won’t happen without trust and transparency. Don’t be afraid to show your human side and the use of self-deprecation can play a vital role here.
It’s the same as different prospects requiring different selling styles, effective managers understand that the best way to get results out of their team is to flex their managerial style. Instead of forcing one method of communication or strategy on everyone (morse code or carrier pigeon are a tad outdated), ask individuals how they like to be managed and establish common ground. Having a vested interest and finding out what makes a person tick is guaranteed to save muchos heartache down the line.
You can’t motivate someone unless you know what drives them. Understand what your direct reports want to accomplish in their personal and professional lives. This will not only show you the type of person they are, but also give you an insight into what things will motivate them the most.
Even if it seems obvious, you always need to ask. If they can’t articulate an answer, give them 48 hours to figure it out. Encouraging your team to be self-reflective helps with problem solving, continual improvement, and makes it more likely they’ll give you thoughtful answers both in the short and longer term.
Whether you’re in an industry that has blown up or one that’s been blown away in the past couple of years, remember that people in sales are motivated primarily by wonga, with conquering challenges and helping customers solve problems also playing a key role. Whatever way you want to dress it up, great salespeople are hunters, cold blooded sell your granny types. That doesn’t mean you ignore other motivators like the ones mentioned, you just cannot forget the basic principle: sale of granny = revenue = hit target = commission = Mr or Mrs Motivator
Downsizing is an obvious consequence for some industries who were badly hurt by the pandemic. But other industries are downsizing due to the shift to digital and virtual sales channels. On the flip side, cloud-based businesses have grown in size, so it’s about what suits your business model.
All in all, change can be very disruptive to a sales team, but the pandemic created an opening as everyone from top management to junior sales bods became more open to change, especially change perceived as necessary to survival.
If your business is going to shrink permanently or if buyers are likely to continue buying virtually or online, consider reducing the size of your team. That can boost morale and motivation in several ways. Think of it like this, if there are 10 golden Fabergé eggs hidden in the garden and 10 hunters, each of the hunters can find an egg. But if there are only five eggs, half of the hunters will be left with nowt. Redistributing the remaining eggs (and the associated commissions) to fewer salespeople makes sense.
On the other hand, if your business is growing, adding to the team can prevent burnout and keep competitors from stealing customers who aren’t getting enough service from your knackered team. Adding another plate at the table is rarely popular with salespeople who think that all commissions should be their commissions, so be sure to soften the blow with some temporary perks or cash to encourage best behaviour. Cash is king so they say.
Thrill of the chase, competitiveness, and an eagerness to close are all essential parts of a sales team’s personality. This is doubly true of the younger generation who grew up playing video games. The adrenaline rush of “levelling up” is what keeps gamers performing otherwise pointless actions over and over for hours.
Sales contests are a tried and tested way to get teams to work on an important goal. A Salesforce survey found that 71% of companies reported sales performance gains of 11%-50% from adding gamification for their sales teams. The ability to earn a badge, peer recognition and ultimately a valuable reward can be a powerful motivator. The daily “mini-rewards” earned along the way keep contestants in the game. Just don’t make the rules overly complex and make sure everyone can win a little. Good game, good game as Brucey Forsyth would say.
Sales teams feel empowered when the organisation gives them great tools to work with. Great sales content is one of the best tools you can stick in their arsenal (oooh matron). Your organisation should be creating content that help the sales team target, convince and close prospects. These can be delivered through your website or shared/emailed. Product overviews, pricing tables, case studies, customer testimonials and industry analysis can keep prospects engaged. Don’t forget video content too: according to a Hubspot research study, almost three-quarters of consumers, 72%, prefer video to text for receiving branded marketing information.
The best salespeople are experts on the products it uses and the industry they work in. Have your product development boffins and engineers attend virtual or in person meetings whereby your team can ask questions they’ve ascertained from clients. The more engaged the team is with the product and answering questions from prospects, the more sales they’ll make. More knowledge also gives them confidence in their pitch. Few organisations do this effectively and all it costs is a few hours of time.
The amount of business being done via virtual meetings has exploded. Buyers are liking not having to schedule in-person meets for long pitches that could put a glass eye to sleep. Your job as a sales leader is not to try to hold back that tide, your job is to learn as much as you can about digital sales tools and help your team learn how to use them effectively. That will make them feel like they’re in control, and that confidence will inspire them to succeed despite the generational challenges for some.
You can’t expect your team to be up for it if you exhibit the enthusiasm of a teenager being asked to carry out household chores. The power of personal example is priceless, and your sales team will be more motivated if they see that you have a well-thought-out plan to boost their success and are taking decisive actions. Where is your industry heading? How are your competitors positioning themselves? What is your organisation doing about changes that are looming on the horizon? As a sales leader, it’s your job to drive those issues up the chain and communicate clearly what’s being done about them to your troops. Knowledge is power as they say.
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