As a sales manager, one of your many responsibilities is making sure that your team is contributing to top line growth. So when your salespeople miss their quota and don’t respond to simple incentives (like free catered lunch), it’s time to starting brainstorming some new ways to motivate your team.
While your first instinct may be to hire some fresh blood, quickly control that costly impulse. The holiday season is generally not perceived as a good time for staffing reorganization anyway. Your next thought might be to consider changing the compensation system, but as the Harvard Business Review discovered, that’s not an overnight fix.
Chances are that at some point during your career you’ve found yourself in a scenario similar to the one described above. Whether your team is in a temporary rut or a long-term dry spell, it can be difficult to motivate a group who feel defeated, run down, and discouraged. Maybe it’s not their fault. Your company’s products might need an update, the competition might be fierce, or the market just might be too tough right now for others to see you as business critical.
Losing your cool, however, won’t do you or your team any good. But there are some things you can do to help your team succeed. Below are a few tips on how to get more out of your sales team:
Have a Point Person
Although you’d like to be in the trenches with each of your sales teams, it’s just not realistic. That’s why it can help to hire a qualified mid-level manager who will oversee daily activities and work directly with team members to overcome challenges and weaknesses. Don’t, however, make the common mistake of simply promoting your top-performing salesperson; you’re likely to find out later that they don’t have the coaching or collaborative skills to lead an entire team. Bottom line: Hire smart and take your time.
Provide Helpful Tools
Salespeople have a tough job to do, so don’t make it any harder than it already is. Give your agents access to sales tools that will decrease tedious administrative work so they can focus on the important things - like building customer relationships. For example, make the most out of your CRM. In addition, give your team industry and company reports that contain vital business information they need to understand their market and customers. This way, they don’t have to waste any time tracking down information and can spend more time selling.
Have you ever stopped to think that maybe your agents are feeling defeated because they lack the necessary selling skills to succeed? Sit down with your team to find out what struggles they’re facing and which areas they can improve with support. Then build a training program that will help fill in any gaps. Investing in your sales associates’ professional development will motivate them to work harder and be more productive.
Slow Things Down
One of the many reasons salespeople start to “check out” is that they’re overwhelmed. The last thing you want is for salespeople to perceive the office as this daunting place they have to navigate. Giving struggling employees a smaller stack of calls to work through is a great way to reignite the fire. They'll gain back confidence and avoid the burnout of intense extended sales pitch efforts.
Reward Sales Staff
People are motivated by a variety of things, so it’s important to create an environment that works for everyone. For example, financial incentives are important drivers for most (so don’t be a Scrooge with the bonuses); however, others favor support and recognition (like that Winner’s Circle trophy). Know what motivates each person to get the most out of them.
Amy Bible is the Director of Acquisition Sales at Dun & Bradstreet. She leads a team of almost 50 salespeople who focus on serving emerging businesses with various data solutions, including Hoover’s.
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