Motivation and tenacity need to be like water and air for sales professionals. Yet, for many sales leaders, getting their sales team members to develop and hone these traits is a source of endless frustration. Do you need to refocus your sales management strategy?
The sales professionals that are cut from a different cloth will relentlessly hustle even at the toughest of times. They’ll go the extra distance in prospecting, take extra time to proofread emails, and work more than 40 hours per week. They’re also usually the most successful, because the motivation and tenacity they demonstrate gets rewarded… with clients that appreciate their efforts, recognition from leadership, and a constant flow of commissions.
So, what can sales leaders do to nurture and inspire more team members to be like that? This article explores 12 steps to motivate sales teams to success and how sales leaders can improve their sales management strategy. Read and you’ll see what happens – or needs to happen – behind the scenes to increase employee motivation in the sales realm.
- Take a Company-Wide Approach
The first thing you need to do when improving your sales management strategy is recognize that everything about your sales organization, starting with the process of onboarding new sales professionals, has a major impact on sales motivation.
The blunder many sales leaders make at the onset is to frame motivating sales professionals in terms of their own agenda, rather than something that should be key and consistent across all sales teams.
- Make Motivation Habit-Forming
Recognize that sales motivation comes down to both a mental game and science. The objective is to set up an external motivator across every aspect of the sales organization. The goal is to create habit to eventually rewrite the genetic code that empowers sales professionals to become their own source of motivation, sustained internally.
- Establish Incentives
Most sales professionals are coin operated, so let’s talk about the greatest sales motivation of all: sales incentives. For past generations and future, sales will be motivated by money.
Start by setting up a commission structure, spiffs, Circle of Excellence, President’s Club, etc. Then, supplement with reward and recognition.
Of all the decisions your company makes, incentives have the highest impact on sales motivation and the positive results it brings. The decisions being made with respect to compensation plans and incentives will have the most influence, so structure them with that in mind.
- Create a Culture of Motivation
In sales, talent shapes culture and culture shapes talent. Culture has a very simple objective: Put sales professionals in a place where they feel motivated as effectively and often as possible.
One of the most famous – at least, in my opinion – sales movies, “Wolf of Wall Street,” shows how the tone of your sales floor impacts a positive or negative sales motivation.
- Define Your Style of Leadership
This is a big deal that entails personal self-examination on the part of sales leaders. I’ll ask the NFL fans, is your leadership style more Bill Belichick or Tony Dungy?
Whatever your leadership style, it will have a massive impact on sales motivation. Never forget that employees – mostly millennials – are no longer loyal to companies, but to their manager. It’s important to remember that a sales professionals’ motivation comes intrinsically.
- Determine How You’ll Set Quotas
We’ve all seen different ways of structuring quotas throughout our sales careers. From what I’ve seen, organizations will most often structure multi-tiered commission levels that line up with the difficulty of quota attainment.
Some companies set quotas that are nearly impossible for all to achieve, except for about 15% of the sales professionals they hire. With such a high bar set, less motivated, though mentally strong reps are supporting companies that are willing to lose their mid-tier sales force to get peak value from their most capable talent.
Other companies set quotas that are more attainable. The give and get is that the sales professional’s income potential is most likely lower than those with a very high quota.
Regardless of the approach, the real driver of quota is driving the behavior while setting expectations. You can only have so many thermostats on a sales team. The thermometers need to raise the temperature.
- Leverage Training Opportunities
The feeling of competence is key for lasting sales motivation, so the training and coaching regimen should have a major influence, one way or another.
The connection is very eye opening to anyone in sales who’s watched a poorly trained rep’s motivation go down in flames. The ones that show grit and toughness persevere until they reach success, but the majority will be applying for a new job—either on their own accord or the company’s—sooner than that happens.
1 on 1 meetings can help with sales motivation over time, if the sales leader mixes in encouragement. Another approach that works is a more confrontational one, but use this approach selectively and with caution as its value depends on the sales professional.
- Influence Team Dynamics
Having a team with members who are willing to help each other out is key to success. One of my old football coaches used to say, “Everyone needs to row the boat,” or “Individual effort pulled together collectively.” This just scratches the surface of this topic, but I’m pretty sure you pick up what I’m putting down.
- Allow Competition to Breed Results
Tying in nicely with the last step, there is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. This can act as a great way for a sales professional to drive more revenue and line their pockets with more cash.
Sales is a very competitive profession. When I interview candidates, I ask, “Do you love to win? Or hate to lose?” There is no wrong answer, but it gives me – the hiring manager – a good idea what kind of motivation they have.
We can measure competition by monthly sales, activity, revenue sold per team, and so on.
- Hire Great Talent
Every employer has their own “ideal profile” they like or prefer to bring on board. Everyone wants to be a part of the best team. The better your hiring practices are and eye for talent, the stronger push you will get from the team in an all-around sales motivating kind of way.
Hiring poorly over time can be a major obstacle to sales motivation, as increased turnover and a weak team can lower morale.
I’m assuming most people reading this post have been on a date. Is it fair to say, first impressions matter? I think they do. Onboarding determines whether your new hires get started on the right foot. If you can give a good first impression, more times than not, it will show in the sales professionals’ performance and motivation levels.
- Provide Feedback
Feedback comes from many sources—peers, prospects, manager, and so on. It happens every day. Losing a sale, getting hung up on, etc. Giving feedback, whether good or bad, should be timely.
Something important to realize is that people will remember how you made them feel instead of what you told them. If you are in leadership, make sure your feedback, if negative, is given in a helpful way.
Implementing these 12 steps is a sure way to improve your sales management strategy and see an increase in your team’s motivation and success.