Five Strategies for Maintaining a Motivated Sales Team

By Blake Vernon, Chief Revenue Officer, Sapper Consulting
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Sales is the lifeblood of your business. Without it, no other role or department can exist. Keeping your sales team motivated to hit its numbers puts your company in a position for continued growth and opens up opportunities for all other employees. Motivation is often perceived as a fleeting state of mind – fluctuating for each individual based on circumstances both within and outside their control.

The key to preserving motivation is to actively nurture it and look for means to remove obstacles that might hinder your sales team’s path to success. As a leadership team member, the responsibility rests on your shoulders. Though it’s no easy task, it must be done. A lack of motivation can cause salespeople to disengage, which, in turn, affects your company’s performance.

Igniting the Spark for Intrinsic Motivation

Because they’re competitive by nature, contests might serve as a much-needed spark to ignite motivation within certain members of your sales team. Just don’t fall prey to the mistake many companies make when launching such challenges. Too many times, you’ll find a competition with a single predetermined prize. Though this should go without saying, the motivation and effort from your salespeople will depend on the value of that prize to them personally.

Instead, consider personalizing prizes or pull together a variety of options based on your team members’ interests. If, for example, Joe wins, he might like a free round of golf at his favorite course. Sara, on the other hand, might not golf and would prefer tickets to see her favorite band in concert. Whether the contest is head-to-head or team-versus-team, going this route maximizes each individual’s drive.

Contests alone, however, aren’t usually the answer. As a leader, you must also put other systems in place to maintain your sales team’s motivation. For instance, you can involve salespeople in the problem-solving process. They feel their contributions matter when you go to them for ideas. This leads to greater accountability within the team and even better solutions.

In addition to contests and team involvement, a critical part of motivating your team is setting realistic expectations. Clear is kind, as they say. Make sure whatever expectations you set for salespeople are clear and realistic. If the goals you set are unattainable, then your sales reps could become frustrated, give up entirely, or seek new employment.

Establishing a Motivating Environment in the Workplace

Putting any initiative in motion takes time. Establishing a motivating and supportive environment is no different. However, there are things you can do today to get the ball rolling. Consider these tactics to get started:

1. Get to know your salespeople

If you haven’t done so already, get to know your sales reps on a more personal level. What do they like to do outside of work? What are their hobbies? What are they motivated by? What’s driving their desire to be in sales beyond the potential earnings? What does that money bring them?

2. Build trust within the team

Motivation is often built on the foundation of trust. Sit down with each member of your sales team to discuss their challenges and goals. This effort will be seen as a sign that you have their best interests at heart. Just make sure to do this apart from “getting-to-know-you” conversations. You don’t want your intentions to come across as disingenuous.

3. Seek feedback

If you have a new idea, grab a salesperson or two and bring them into your office to ask for their honest feedback: “Hey, you’re a key player on this sales team, and I’ve got this idea I want to run by you. What do you think? Will it work?” Again, this re-establishes that you value their individual contributions.

4. Set short- and long-term goals

Long-term goals establish a destination, while short-term goals are the journey to get there. Besides the simple fact that it’s essential to have both types of goals, salespeople like to win – and the momentum of winning breeds more winning. Create a motivational environment by establishing attainable short-term goals and building on that momentum.

5. Re-evaluate how you communicate

No one needs to tell you that communication is important. What does need mentioning is the necessity to periodically re-evaluate how you’re communicating with your team – on both an individual and teamwide level. Perhaps your daily meetings are no longer exciting or interesting. A different approach might be necessary. Maybe your one-on-one sessions aren’t feeling very productive. So, change up how you do things.

Motivating employees is a bit of a balancing act. Your actions and words must match. Feel free to incentivize their performance, but you must also follow up with some support. Otherwise, your attempts to motivate will seem shallow and could have the reverse effect. Get to know team members, be realistic with your expectations, and communicate frequently. It’s all about creating an environment where everyone feels like a valued member of your team. Do that, and you’re moving in the right direction.

Blake Vernon is the chief revenue officer at Sapper Consulting, which replaces cold calling for its clients.