Ten Ways Sales Managers Can Motivate and Inspire Their Teams

By Charlotte Powell, Head of Creative, iPresent Ltd

Winter can be a tough time of year for salespeople. Opportunities can be harder to come by, moods drop, and sales productivity slumps.

How can we overcome this dismal season and inspire great performance in our sales teams?

Here are 10 ways sales managers can motivate and inspire their teams – not just on cold winter days, but year-round.

1. Lead by example.
If you want your sales team to make more calls, you need to make more calls. If you want them to share ideas and talk about what works and doesn’t, you need to do the same. If you want your team to go home at 5:30 pm to have a life outside of work that makes them better employees, you need to leave at 5:30 pm too.

Being a good sales manager also means being a good employee – visibly. You gained a management position by being great at your job – so show your team exactly what that looks like.

2. Create a positive working environment.
Consider your working environment – both physically and culturally. How can it be improved? How can you create a more productive office?

Consider things like:

  • Are people comfortable at their desks?
  • Could plants improve the office air quality and ambience?
  • Is the lighting good?
  • What about the temperature?
  • Is everyone staying hydrated?
  • Do employees leave their desks for lunch?
  • Is your office layout conducive to productivity?

3. Support continual development.
Learning and development shouldn’t be a checkbox exercise – it’s about finding areas where sales training or sales coaching could benefit your salespeople and providing the resources to make it happen.

This continual development for salespeople pays off in several ways. Of course, skills acquisition is a clear benefit. But also worth noting are increased levels of employee engagement, morale, loyalty, and retention.

4. Be fair.
Sales is a competitive game, but don’t let your killer instincts get in the way of fair play.

Be fair. Be kind. Be respectful and earn respect in return. Pay people what they are worth. Be generous with your time and your resources, where you can. You can be firm, of course, but inspiration won by fear is not true inspiration.

5. Don’t micromanage.
As a sales manager, you have enough on your plate with your clients and a team of salespeople to lead – don’t take on their work, too.

Micromanaging is a major cause of frustration among direct reports. It shows a lack of trust, which makes your salespeople feel undervalued and erodes their confidence – not to mention their morale. You hired capable adults. Let them know you’re there for them, then leave them to get on with their jobs.

6. Practice good communication.
Let’s briefly break down what good communication entails as a sales manager:

  • Be clear – If you need something, ask for it. Don’t drip-feed your team stories or snippets of instructions and assume the rest is obvious.
  • Be transparent – Companies that encourage a culture of secret meetings and “need-to-know” whispering tend to erode the trust of their employees.
  • Listen – Good communicators actively listen to hear rather than simply waiting for their chance to reply.

7. Find (and use) your team’s “why.”
As a sales manager, it’s your job to get to know your team – not just in terms of their strengths and weaknesses but also their interests and their stories. In short, their “why.”  Find out what motivates them to come to work and try hard.

A “why” could be monetary, but it could also be something different. Once you know what it is, help your team see how they can use this motivator to drive them through tough times.

8. Build a relationship.
Building a relationship with your sales team based on mutual respect gives you certain benefits:

  • You get to know them as people: their strengths, their weaknesses, what motivates them. You can use this knowledge to support them and to help them be the best version of themselves.
  • A strong relationship gives you room to push someone without pushing them away.
  • It emboldens them to provide you with feedback.
  • Ultimately, a healthy relationship creates an environment in which creativity flourishes.

9. Help employees take pride in their work.
Sometimes it’s hard for people to recognize their achievements. As the sales manager, it’s your job to help your team acknowledge and praise a job well done.

10. Financial incentives.
Commission, bonuses, lavish dinners, President’s Club – all these incentives will inspire your sales team to work harder.

In my opinion, though, many organizations lean too heavily on the strength of a financial reward and don’t give enough consideration to the long-term benefits of building a positive workplace culture. The two should ideally work together to provide year-round results.

Charlotte Powell is the head of creative at iPresent Ltd, a sales enablement platform that works to bridge the gap between marketing and sales. Connect with her on LinkedIn