How to Motivate Your Sales Team

motivate your sales team

It’s a common question asked by many supervisors who are tasked with getting the most out of their salespeople: “How do I motivate my sales team?” After all, a motivated and committed team of salespeople is essential for achieving real success. The problem is that the majority of workers around the world report consistently low levels of actual engagement in their jobs – and that can prove disastrous in any sales setting. The good news is that you don’t have to be an inspirational guru to help your employees become more motivated. If you’re a sales manager, these tips and strategies will help you give your employees the motivation needed for sustained success.

Give them the tools they need to succeed

One of the most important things that you can do to motivate your sales team is to ensure that they feel empowered to achieve their best. To do that, you need to focus on providing them with the tools they need to reach their goals. Those tools include:

  • Effective training to enhance their product knowledge
  • Efficient technology to facilitate their sales efforts
  • Solid coaching to help them maintain their focus
  • Positive feedback and constructive criticism
  • The right level of independence to promote self-actualization

Provide consistent incentives

Incentives matter, but reliability matters even more when trying to motivate your sales team. Far too many companies are inconsistent when it comes to the types of incentives that they provide. This leads to incentive fatigue and a loss of motivation. The best salespeople are like athletes; they are adept at setting goals for themselves and often tend to focus on beating their best results on a regular basis. Less effective salespeople often struggle with these goal-setting efforts. Your job is to design incentives that can promote proper goal-setting habits, and inspire workers to meet those objectives.

Incentives should be substantial enough to promote objective buy-in, fair enough to provide most workers with an opportunity to benefit, and transparent in their calculation and payout. Any deviation from those three critical factors can render your incentive programs all but useless. And when that happens, your salespeople can eventually become resistant to any incentives that you offer.

Measure the right results

When you provide feedback to your salespeople, what metrics do you use to assess their performance? Many managers focus on things like call volume, contacts made, and similar measured activities, and often inadvertently convey the message that quantity matters more than quality. The best sales managers and representatives all understand that quality is the key to any salesperson’s success.

When it comes to sales, the quantity versus quality dynamic can be hard to manage. You obviously need your salespeople to contact new prospects, but if that contact quantity fails to produce results, then nothing is being achieved. Proper balance is essential, and your ability to measure real results can help you to provide your employees with the constructive feedback they need to meet the company’s goals.

So, track the number of calls made, but assess that volume accurately by analysing it about actual sales made. The person who sells to ten of the twenty people they contact is achieving more than the one who reaches fifty people but only closes three. Learn to focus on the right metrics, and you can use that information to motivate your sales team to even greater levels of success.

Share sales metrics

There’s also a right and wrong way to share that sales metric information with your team. In many companies, sales results are often kept on a need-to-know basis, and only revealed a few times a year. Unfortunately, those results are all too often shared with the sales team only when sales are down. If you want buy-in and motivation from your team, they need to know how they’re doing at any given point in time.

The average salesperson is competitive and unwilling to fail. They’re relatively easy to inspire to greater success if you can find a way to get them to buy-in. Transparency is the key to achieving that, so find a way to share sales details with your team. Ensure that your salespeople have the information they need to maintain their enthusiasm and desire to achieve.

Maintain the right corporate culture

You can only get so far with direct employee motivation if your company’s culture is pulling them in another direction. Every business has its unique culture, for good or for ill. Successful companies have positive cultures that facilitate shared values and goals to achieve the business’ vision.

Work with every level of your management and leadership team to ensure that your company’s culture is tailor-made for that kind of success. That can help to provide the type of environment you need to foster the commitment and motivation. This cannot be overemphasised since your company will end up with its own culture – either by design or by happenstance. Make sure that your culture is the one your business needs for success.

Create manageable competitions

Competitions are important for motivational purposes. Salespeople typically love to compete with one another, as each strives to be the very best. When designing contests to gamify your sales environment, use it to your advantage by creating team competitions. That approach to contests and incentives can help to build a stronger spirit of teamwork. It also helps inspire even your least-effective salespeople to increase their output.

You can also get more people engaged in the competition – and increase their excitement and motivation levels – by rewarding different aspects of the sales process. Sales close on their timetable, and sometimes sales efforts may not be entirely finished before a contest is completed. If you include varying rewards for everything from cold calls to new leads and closed sales, you can motivate your sales team by encouraging greater results at every end of the sales funnel.

To motivate your sales team you must lead by example

There is perhaps no greater motivator than one who leads by example. Your salespeople should see you as the tip of the spear in their effort to reach every sales goal. If you have sales experience of your own, do a little cold calling to inspire the troops. Even if you don’t have that experience, you can still lead with a consistently positive attitude and a strong work ethic.

The important thing is to commit yourself to this effort every day. Your best results as a sales manager will only come when you can motivate your sales team. This way you can help your team to find the motivation they need to overcome any obstacles.

2 Comments

  • Ashley Turns

    Thank you for suggesting that you use a sales incentive program that can actually help encourage goal-setting behavior in people so they will be able to start motivating themselves. The company I work for has been thinking about implementing a sales incentive program to help raise our revenue. I'll be sure to mention they should find a program that will help our less effective salespeople be more motivated to set their own goals.

  • Sherry Hennes

    It all begins with communication, one-on-one. Just as you expect a sales person to invest in their clients you should take the same approach and time investment with your staff because they are your clients. Each person will have a different motivation / reason that drives them and so you will succeed when you understand these and can, within reason, use these to build a mutual success. To do this, engage with them by asking if they understand and agree with their goals. This will allow both sides to make certain they are on the same path and provide an opportunity to further assess and address disconnects to align and reinvigorate a driven sales person. Ask them if there is anything getting in the way of them meeting their goals? If the issues are valid you now know what needs to be done to remove the issues. However, be prepared to hear some excuses. If you prepare ahead of time by asking yourself what you think you might hear you can address these in a positive manner that shows them you are in this together to help them but make certain you place achievement squarely on their shoulders. Let them know you want to assist but you want them to feel the tremendous sense of achievement that will come from success. While most sales people are very financial rewards motivated they are also motivated by public acknowledgement, a personal note, call or lunch to say thank you, etc. They thrive on acknowledgement of their value to your organization.

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