Motivating A Sales Team

A motivated sales team ensures company profitability and a smooth sales pipeline process. However, sales managers may struggle with low performers, unrealistic goals and complex compensation systems. This article reviews a number of specific techniques you can employ to properly motivate your sales team at your business.

Conditional Bonuses

According to Forbes magazine, conditional bonuses are the key to motivating a sales team. Specifically, researchers found that conditional bonuses increased sales gain by approximately 20 percent. The researchers concluded that specific goals motivate people to work harder because the most successful employees were equally distributed among both low and high performers. Unconditional bonuses can have negative effects. That is, once employees are conditioned to expect regular bonuses, they will internalize the fact that there will always be another future opportunity. Therefore, they become complacent and low performing. In order to combat this, sales managers should implement consistent, yet conditional monetary bonuses to all employees. Keep in mind that the researchers also found that higher performers excel with seasonal fluctuations, but low performers perform poorly.

Create a Culture of Success

According to a Gallup poll, sales representatives are most directly influenced by their immediate supervisor. They are not typically influenced by visionary CEOs or high pressure VP of Sales who are distant and unfamiliar. Because of this, they found that 70 percent of employees leave their company because of a poor relationship with their direct supervisor. Therefore, sales people need to have a meaningful and professional relationship with their supervisor. The goal is to increase employee engagement and productivity through sales managers, who can create a positive culture of success and inclusion. For example, companies should internally recruit ambitious and high performing salespeople into front-line supervisor positions. This will act as excellent motivation and reward for top performers. It will also ensure a positive work relationship between the new supervisor and their co-workers. In the end, internally recruited supervisors will invest their passion and unique company insight into their fellow employees. This will increase motivation and revenue.

Loyalty Matters

Entrepreneur magazine recommends that sales managers build employee loyalty while also increasing motivation. First, sales managers need to provide clear direction and expectations. The best sales managers have a clear vision of the future that they translate into actionable goals. Sales people need structure and a clear path to success. Second, sales managers can build loyalty through respect and transparency. Nothing creates disloyalty and miscommunication faster than insensitivity and double standards. Finally, all sales employees need regular meetings where the sales manager can share improvement ideas, important updates and a positive vision of the future. While this can be a scheduling nightmare, having all sales employees together once a month or quarter is a required part of building a cooperative and motivated work force.

The Ideal Salesperson

In order to properly motivate salespeople, the manager must understand and cultivate certain characteristics in their sales force. The Harvard Business Review (BHR) recently conducted research on how a salesperson’s personality influences their motivation. They found that motivation is primarily influenced by the nature of the sales task, the individual personality and the type of compensation plan. The ideal salesperson will be sensitive to others, highly independent, work well alone and have a high level of energy. While these characteristics cannot be controlled, there can be cultivated through constructive feedback and individualized training. On the other hand, the ideal salesperson must be able to make accurate and timely decisions with limited support or resources from the company. Therefore, managers can motivate their sales team through helping them become competent and high performing sales people. Every salesperson should have a customized training that focuses on transforming their weaknesses into core competencies.

A Sense of Purpose

According to sales expert Lisa McLeod, the most successful sales people have a “noble sales purpose.” McLeod has found that the top performers all share the same characteristic: they have a strong sense of purpose. That is, the highest performing salespeople are genuinely passionate about making a difference in their client’s lives. They do not just care about numbers or reaching weekly quotas. Consequently, sales managers should keep in mind that revenue statistics are a great way to measure sales effectiveness, but not the ultimate purpose of a sales force. Sales people should be trained to view their product and service as a way to improve the quality of their customer’s lives. This will result in the sales people humanizing their customers, who will respond favorably to sincere salespeople who clearly value and respect them. Overall, sales managers should consistently reinforce a clear mission and purpose in their employees. This will increase their motivation, work satisfaction and performance.
To sum up, having a fully motivated and engaged sales force is vital to the success of any company. Therefore, sales managers should offer conditional bonuses and create a culture of success. In addition to this, they should also cultivate loyalty and help their employees become competent and highly functioning sales people. Finally, they should instill a sense of collective purpose in their employees.

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