“Every sale has five obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” – Zig Ziglar

By Rohit Prasanna

No desire translates to no motivation. Salespeople constantly need to be motivated. I pondered on why motivation is such an integral part of sales and I could come up with 2 reasons:

Because of what they do

They are constantly dealing with cold calls, build reports, generate leads, attend sales meetings, build sales pipeline, meet numbers, generate revenue. A large portion of these activities includes building a relationship with customers and that requires nerve wrecking participation of a salesperson to cut through the competition and win a deal. Moreover, these ‘cold’ activities are not so rewarding. Study reveals that for every 330 calls made, approximately one appointment was set (a 330:1 call-to-appointment ratio)

Because of what they don’t do

Salespeople should always perform, always. Their performance directly impacts the business. If they don’t perform, there is no revenue.

Sales force compensation represents the single largest marketing investment for most B2B companies.  In aggregate, U.S. companies alone spend more than $800 billion on it each year—three times more than they spend on advertising. Motivations are more than earning badges or recognition, bonuses or exotic trips. As a sales manager, you need to constantly find new ways to motivate your teams to perform well.

Below are 10 sales motivation tips to boost your sales team:

1. Build trust by being transparent

The foundation of building relationships is ‘trust’. As a manager, you need to win the trust of your sales folk so that they share their concerns and challenges with you. You need to pay constant ear to their needs – what they need to achieve their goals.

In Roy Bartell’s words, “Most people think ‘selling’ is the same as ‘talking’. But the effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.” You listen more and act on what you listen. And the more you act, the more your team gets inspired. They start to trust when you have their best interests at heart.

This transparency helps to build a positive work culture. A brain-imaging study found that, when employees recalled a boss that had been unkind or un-empathic, they showed increased activation in areas of the brain associated with avoidance and negative emotion while the opposite was true when they recalled an empathic boss. Moreover, Jane Dutton and her colleagues in the CompassionLab at the University of Michigan suggest that leaders who demonstrate compassion toward employees foster individual and collective resilience in challenging times.

2. Give timely feedback

Once you build the trust factor, your team will not have any issues with receiving feedback – either positive or negative. Your feedback only lets them believe that you genuinely want them to improve in whatever they are doing.

When it comes to positive feedback, praise is good. But if it comes a week after an achievement, then it would lose its worth. Take time to give feedback when it is most expected. It might not require much of your time but the positive impact it creates to the individual or the team is priceless.

Salespeople are smart in differentiating genuine feedback from feedback-to-raise-performance. To give a genuine feedback, you need to understand your team, what motivates them, understand why they are not performing. Nurture your relationships with employees get to the underlying issue and correct it.

3. Meeting with peers

Invest time in conducting a sales meeting, across teams, across geographies, and across hierarchies. You can discuss on:

  • Trends in the market
  • Reception of product – geography wise
  • Recent closures
  • Response of industries for your products
  • How to cut through competition
  • Handling saturated markets
  • Sales process
  • Sales hurdles
  • Wins
  • Losses
  • Learnings and a lot more

These discussions create an educational tour for not just new employees, but also sales management in understanding how changes to the product are impacting market reception, and even other teams like marketing and customer support to improve and align their strategies according to trends.

4. Give great rewards

Though rewards in monetary terms or recognition boost up the motivation of sales team, it’s the small things that matter most. Take time to recognize and reward qualities of your sales rep like best attitude, good calling, more sales meeting contributions, being creative etc.

When your team is recognized beyond mere sales, they will be motivated to improve their performance as well. These small things may even be;

  • A pat on the back
  • Teeny weeny conversations once in a while
  • Join them in sales calls/ meetings
  • Taking your team out for lunch/ dinner
  • Give off on their birthdays, anniversaries etc

5. Set realistic goals

Salespeople are at high risk of losing track of their deliverables because the only thing that’s required of them is revenue. But reaching that goal is not easy. You need to set up proper tangible goals which are realistic. Most salespeople are overwhelmed with unrealistic targets set by their management.

“When 10%–20% of salespeople miss goals, the problem might be the salespeople. But when most salespeople miss, the problem is their goals,” wrote the Harvard Business Review. Before setting up targets, you need to have a standard business plan that includes a high research on:

  • Determine your company’s goals
  • Interact and assess individuals strength
  • Your product’s reach in the market
  • What you want to achieve etc

Once you assess the above, you will get an understanding of what areas your sales team is struggling, and accordingly, you can meet their needs. Like, you can educate and empower your sales team, incentivize them, work on the pricing of the product, assess geography reach and more.

6. Gamification

Gamification motivates participation and involvement of salespeople. Gamification softwares, like Agile CRM, motivate the sales team to compete and collaborate with each other and generate better leads and revenue. Gamification encourages healthy competition allowing them to strive for their numbers.

Agile CRM gamification features include

  • side-by-side comparisons of individual rep performance
  • deals won
  • calls made
  • revenue generated
  • Tasks completed

It encourages open mentoring, coaching, sales team project management, information sharing and collaborative sales techniques. Custom leaderboards give a quick view on performance of every sales person. You can also customize them to display actionable insights about each rep’s deals, tasks, calls, and revenue.

7. Lead by example

 “Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s important for every leader to mould themselves into the example that they quote to their team. And as rightly said by Albert Schweitzer, “The three most important ways to lead people are:….by example….by example….by example”.  Behind every successful team is an inspiring and motivational sales manager.

You are where you are because of what you did. You are a sales manager because of your great background in sales. You can align your learning and transfer that to your team, it works like a motivational capsule that builds instant energy for your team to chase numbers. They will be filled with enthusiasm when they are acknowledged for their challenges and what you did to overcome them. This gives them relief that they too can.

If you do what you expect from your team – come every day on time, attend meetings without a miss, participate in the conversations, meet your targets, your team will respect your work ethic and will be encouraged to match your expectations.

8. Empower your sales team

Apart from learning, there are many ways to empower your team. You give them the right set of tools and allow them to invest their time in more productive tasks. Software tools like customer relationship management (CRM) is imperative to any sales process.  And it’s bewildering that 22% of salespeople still don’t know what a CRM is, and 40% still use informal methods like spreadsheets and email programs to store customer data. CRM softwares, like Agile CRM, help not just your team in doing their everyday tasks but also helps them to collaborate with marketing and customer support and improve communication.

Below are few statistics that highlight the importance of CRM to salespeople:

  • CRM applications can help increase sales by up to 29%, sales productivity by up to 34% and sales forecast accuracy by 42%. – Salesforce
  • The average return on investment for CRM is $8.71 for every dollar spent. – Nucleus research
  • Sales reps saw their productivity increased by 26.4% when adding social networking and mobile access to CRM applications – Nucleus research
  • 24% more sales reps achieve annual sales quota with mobile access to their CRM. – Aberdeen Group

Along with software tools, you should also invest in premium accounts at websites, like LinkedIn, which are the heart of the lead generation.

9. Sketch a personal and professional career goal

No human can find a perfect balance between personal and professional life. And sometimes personal issues might demotivate the employees and affect the productivity as a whole. As a manager, you need to sit with your team and understand what they want to accomplish in their personal and professional lives. This will not only help you in understanding them but also gives you insight into what things will motivate them most.

You can ask questions like:

  • What motivates you?
  • Are you motivated by your work?
  • How can I help you be motivated?

Answers to these will lead you to decide if the role they are in is a good fit or not, and accordingly, you can make changes.

10. Team building

Team building events do not rank high on employees and they believe that investing time in such activities could hinder their performance. In fact, nearly one-third of office workers report that they dislike team building activities.

But research says otherwise. A meta-analysis of 103 studies spanning sixty years of research shows that team building does indeed have positive and measurable effects on team performance.

Indulge in team building activities to get your team to genuinely relax, set mind off “to-do” list and have fun.

Motivating is to find the thing that makes your team go the extra mile. Sales representatives who are demotivated need more than dollars to stay focused and meet numbers. Let us know what ways of motivation you prefer to implement your job.

Rohit Prasanna brings in about 14 years of digital marketing experience and has been an advisor to software start-ups in the mobile and SaaS areas. Before getting into startups, Rohit worked in various marketing, and product management roles at Unisys, Dell, and IBM. Specialties: Digital marketing, building and growing companies, marketing, business development, M&A. @rohithpras

Sales stock photo by Skydive Erick/Shutterstock