Do you truly understand what motivates your sales team?
According to Salesforce.com, “It’s important to keep your salespeople motivated, and it’s one of the best ways to keep your sales flowing.” As HBR.org writer Thomas Steenburgh explains, to motivate salespeople, companies often “stage grand kickoff meetings to announce new bonus programs. They promise exotic trips to rainmakers. When business is slow, they hold sales contests. If sales targets are missed, they blame the sales compensation plan and start from square one.”
Unfortunately, many short-term, fly-by-night tactics don’t work — especially when it comes to small business sales. So, we asked business leaders across the nation to share what works best for their organizations, and here’s what they had to say:
1. Create an open ‘sales’ culture.
“Encourage an open culture. The primary element is an openness to let your sales professionals fail. The reality is that goals are stunted by a fear of failing. Sales professionals tend to be inherent risk takers and when we create an environment that allows them to take more risks they get energetic and super-motivated. The icing on the cake is that your sales team will begin to set huge goals, think outside the box and go places other companies aren’t willing to go, which will result in a significantly increased bottom line for you!”
2. Roll up your sleeves… and sell.
“Dive in to the trenches, and be a part of your sales team. Every CEO would gain a massive ROI on time spent, by spending just 10 minutes a day making sales calls side by side with your sales team. From my experience, this will motivate your sales team and help take sales to the next level.”
3. Remember: Energy, excitement, and payoff.
“Motivating a sales team is about energy, excitement and payoff. By approaching the day with energy, you will encourage your team to do the same; this will result in higher call volumes, better conversations and ultimately greater results. By responding to your sales teams questions and updates with excitement, you will in-turn keep their morale up and encourage them to close deals with the highest margin. By ensuring proper payoff through, both, cash and praise you can [motivate] each employee to [strive for recognition]. Through energy, excitement and payoff you can keep your sales team sharp, motivated, and yielding the highest possible results.”
4. Lead by example.
“Demonstrate how your sales team should treat their own managed client accounts; they should provide exceptional service and take a personal interest in each and every customer relationship. This is how you develop lasting connections and accounts that will generate significant revenue for many years to come. This motivates a sales team because it works; it’s the right way for sales people to conduct business.”
5. Communicate with your sales team.
“Keep yourself immersed in the sales process and day-to-day struggles. It is tough to be empathetic, lead your team, and make strategic decisions without critical information about what is happening on the ground. Not only is it important to schedule meetings for information sharing, it is also important to have some sort of ‘fire alarm’ point-of-contact so you can assist in problem-solving, immediately.”
6. Organize weekly sales meetings.
“The best thing to happen to our sales team was when we decided to organize a weekly meeting where [we] I sit down with them and talk about everything that went great for the week, and things that need to be improved upon. In these meetings we go over the goals we want to hit for the next week, we listen to the personal needs of the team, and we set up a plan of action. We also keep a pulse on customer feedback. You can learn a lot about how your sales team is doing based upon customer feedback.”
7. Change your business development model.
“At one point I analyzed our 6 million dollar client base and realized 60% of our clients weren’t profitable and, incidentally, it was the same 60% of our clients we didn’t like, respect or trust. In short, 60% of our clients sucked! So, one New Year’s Day I sent a note to my entire staff that read, ‘Beginning now, our new criteria for taking on new business will be that we like the client and that they are prepared to pay our price. Do not deviate from this and follow your intuition, and don’t try to make any potential clients fit into our culture, people, and what we stand for.’ Morale shot up 1,000 percent; all of a sudden, we were making money on every project. It was amazing. My staff was happy and the sales team sold more!”
8. Consider bonus-based performance incentives.
“Money is always the biggest motivating factor for any sales team. Our tip is to incentivize and pay a big portion of a sale as commission to whichever person on the team got the job done. A great idea is to also include a bonus based on performance, or at least bonuses for the top performers of the team. Doing so will create competition within the sales team, pushing individual members to go above and beyond to close out as many successful sales as they can.”