The goal of every member of the sales team of any organization is quite clear: Sell more!
But what is not visible to the naked eye about these two simple looking words is the perseverance, ability to take no for an answer from prospects, toil, and constant never say die attitude that it takes on the part of sales teams to achieve this arduous goal given to them.
Ask any sales leader managing a direct sales team, to the one managing a third party salesforce, to those managing channels or distributors, to the sales leaders across various higher levels in the organizations all the way up to Vice Presidents of Sales, across different industries. You’ll see that there is one thing they all have common in their job descriptions: “Keep your Sales Team motivated.”
And that is rightly so because the only formula for sustainable success in a high-pressure role like sales is Motivation!
How to Motivate Sales team?
Now let’s try to understand why motivation is the holy grail in sales...
In sales, an executive’s performance is constantly monitored against targets. Achieving targets mean one has to shed all inhibitions to approach new prospects, explain the product and features in detail, all while being completely aware that the person on the other side can say no to the proposition at any point. At the same time, one can smile in return, try to convince the prospect more, negotiate or let the lead go altogether.…only to try again with the next lead with the same level of enthusiasm. Now repeat this, hundreds of times, for a few months. Well?
Doing this repeatedly can deplete the motivation of even your best performing sales reps. Add to this external factors like bad timing to sell in a market or a personal crisis (physical, mental or psychological) in the life of any of your team members, and there could be days of low or no sales and low engagement.
To keep productivity, focus, and intensity high, it becomes necessary for managers to keep their teams motivated to give their best every day. However, what keeps one motivated varies from person to person. As a sales lead, the more you continue to know your teams, their expectations, and needs, the better you learn what motivates them and implements it in practice.
Sales Team Motivation Ideas
Now having understood the why, let’s deal with the how. You can use the following 5 guiding principles to motivate your sales teams to do better:
This is hands down the most important factor that correlates to sales motivation. It was relevant a thousand years ago and will continue to be relevant for the foreseeable future as well. The ability to make your own money based on your performance (in terms of sales or targets) is something that motivates many people to join sales in the first place.
Incentives can take any form: monetary in terms of cash rewards, commissions, bonuses, etc., non-monetary in terms of prizes, holidays, travel tickets, personalized gifts, etc. or a combination of both, all depending on the industry in which an organization operates in, their budget, and more importantly as per its best asset, i.e., its people.
However, in many organizations, incentives are seen as a huge cost in the system, not realizing the short term and long term benefits of a well-designed incentive structure.
A well-designed incentive plan with the organization’s goals in focus, when executed seamlessly, stimulates the desired behaviors in the sales teams, which undoubtedly enables higher sales and serves as a tool for motivation and recognition. There are many different types of sales incentive plans an organization can create depending on the sales process, challenges, and business objectives. These days, many organizations provide services to automate sale incentive plans, including customizations for sales representatives at different levels. These automated incentive plans enable:
- Error-free complex calculations.
- Operational efficiency.
- Timely pay-outs.
- Easy to understand digital insights into the pay-out structure and scope of improvement.
- Maximizing ROI not only in sales but across your workforce, resulting in higher productivity and lower attrition levels.
Employing this technique is not only motivational for your teams but fun too. Gamification is a process of using game design principles in a non-game environment.
Most of the reps in sales across organizations are ambitious and competitive people. Whether this trait is extrinsic (the desire to be better when compared) or intrinsic (the desire to improve your skill-set) in your team members, a friendly competition through sales gamification is great for the team’s morale. It enables various sales processes, including targets as challenges in a game at an individual, team, or organization level. It ties the performance in those challenges to a system of rewards, thereby nudging behavior that supports business objectives.
Based on the organization’s budget and your team’s personality types, you can implement a gamification solution and see your teams infused with vigor, celebrating wins while chasing points on the scoreboard, unlocking bigger rewards, or growing their gamified avatar as they will be able to see clearly how winning in the game is also enabling them to tick necessary items in their daily to-do lists.
Using gamification tools amplify a sense of self-worth in team members and helps in pushing your already motivated sales teams to achieve the next goal by enabling:
- Visual Leaderboards which show how one ranks compared to other members of the team.
- Social media-friendly shareable content on winning a challenge.
- A culture of recognition and applauding small wins.
- A sense of belonging to a larger organization-wide purpose.
3. Empowerment & Coaching
Whenever someone in the team struggles with an issue, usually as managers, the first reaction is to either get critical or jump in to show how one can rectify it. But both these approaches are known to reduce employee motivation.
Instead of offering a solution, you can guide them to work on finding a solution themselves while assuring you are by their side, just in case a difficult situation arises. This builds trust in your team members that you believe in them and their potential, which makes them strive harder to make you proud.
Criticism in any form adds to demotivation, whereas positive feedback is a simple and one of the most effective ways to boost an attitude of learning in your teams. As per a Gallup survey, 67% of employees whose managers focus on positive characteristics are engaged at work, as compared to 31% of employees who report their managers focus on their weaknesses.
Moreover, teams who share a good working relationship with their managers and whose managers act more as coaches than a boss for them, have been seen to be more resilient and persevere in tough times. Empower your team like a coach spending time praising, developing, improving, and strategically guiding them to correct mistakes.
Some other ways in which you can empower your team members are:
- Create flexible work arrangements.
- Check on their personal and family well-being.
- Recognize new initiatives and ideas.
- Discuss career and growth opportunities.
4. Sales training
For lasting sales motivation, a feeling of competence and faith in the products or services that your sales reps are selling is of paramount importance.
As sales leaders, you need to ask and also assess the skill-sets which different reps in your team individually need to learn or upskill to perform well in their role. For example, active listening, negotiation, contract management, closing the deals, building a product story, etc. Encourage your reps to learn more and make time to attend training that benefits in their role and develops an overall personality.
Sales training for new hires, especially at the time of onboarding, is very crucial and serves as an essential weapon for recruits to pick up knowledge on market trends, competing products, the company’s vision, mission, and usually infuse them with the knowledge to approach clients with confidence.
You can also ask your entire sales team to attend virtual and offsite seminars offered by your organization, or some industry events, hence promoting group learning and increased camaraderie. Reps feel valued when managers take interest in their personal growth and are not just interested in increasing sales numbers. Sales leaders can guide their team-mates to subjects that help them get better at work and in life.
These could be:
- Gifting or suggesting a book.
- A podcast.
- Report or an infographic on market trends.
- Stress management or a mindfulness workshop.
5. Team building
Whenever sales are considered, healthy competition and doing better compared to the other colleagues in terms of recognition, bonuses, or promotions is a key component; if this competition is not a healthy one and is not adequately balanced by sales team-building exercises, it can lead to an atmosphere of hostility, toxicity, and dissatisfaction.
As sales managers aiming for a motivated and energized sales team, you need to foster an atmosphere of collaboration and not just competition. Two key messages need to go to your sales reps to compete against competitors, not against each other, and second, all sales reps are like parts of machinery, and every part needs to work in unison for the machine to function well.
Since most of the sales reps are out on sales calls and work remotely, it gets difficult for them to feel that they belong to a larger team and form bonds of cooperation. Team building, hence, becomes essential not just for motivation but for job satisfaction too.
To encourage team building, you can start by rewarding knowledge-sharing, mentoring, and efforts to help each other to overcome competition. Further, conducting team-building activities online and offline with your dispersed sales teams improves employee morale and growth mind-set via collaboration.
Sales teams have to work closely with many other departments and stakeholders within the organization as well. An attitude of collaboration is likely to be useful in such interactions too.
Some tips which managers can implement include:
- Publicly praise your entire team in a meeting or shout-out when all team members are around.
- Promote team holidays, lunches, or outings.
- Eliminate any ambiguity on sales territory and ways of working.
At this point, you must have got some insight into how motivating a sales team requires a host of efforts. The next step is applying some or all of these principles and making your teams motivated and happy. You can take your time, and it’s not easy to implement each of these diverse tactics at the get-go. Start with something small, and it’s alright, even if it feels insignificant. Your team will sense you are moving in the right direction and will respond accordingly. In time you can tackle the bigger challenges, and there are many amazing sales incentives solutions to get you going from the ground up, end-to-end. Always remember, the higher the motivation, the better the sales team. Good luck selling!