In order to achieve sales goals, it's important to have a motivated and driven sales team. Here are some great tips to help you do just that!
January 25, 2023
Many sales managers make the mistake of assuming all of their salespeople are simply motivated by money. While that’s certainly part of the equation, motivation goes far beyond the paycheck. Motivating your sales team takes a strategic approach and an investment in team and individual performance. It also takes systems and processes to maintain a high level of motivation for your sales team.
In this article, we’ll outline some of the most important strategies to motivate your sales team so that your salespeople can better manage the sales pipelines, close more deals, and generate more revenue. These motivational strategies help managers build high-performing sales teams that work more effectively.
If your sales team doesn’t trust you as a manager, motivating them will be difficult. Trust is the foundation for strong relationships. That requires open and honest communication and doing what you say you will do. Here are some key strategies to help build trust for sales team motivation.
Salespeople are usually great talkers. As a manager, however, an important part of your job is to listen. Make sure you understand what motivates them, frustrates them, how sales process information helps them, and how you can help them achieve success in their careers.
You must keep everyone informed about what’s happening in the sales organization, especially when some changes or developments impact sales teams directly. Make plenty of time for small group and one-on-one conversations, both formal and informal. Some of the best interactions happen when you’re walking by.
Your team needs to know you genuinely appreciate their hard work, even when the efforts don’t lead to significant success. Often, they need the most encouragement when sales calls don’t result in a conversion.
When you get something wrong, admit it. It shows your team members that you are holding yourself accountable and owning up to errors. You expect them to do that, so you must do the same. It is motivating to a sales team when the boss gives them credit for any successes and shoulders the blame for any shortfall.
If you want your team to trust you, you must demonstrate trust in them, to show you believe in their skills and abilities. Avoid micromanaging sales teams by giving them some autonomy. While your role may include keeping them on task, you have to trust they’ll get the job done. If you can’t trust them to do the right things, they’re probably not the right fit for the team.
It’s important to set clear goals for any employee, but it is especially important for salespeople to know what’s being asked of them. Goals are key to sales motivation since they provide direction. There should be transparency about both team KPIs and individual goals to help everyone understand how their performance will be evaluated.
To foster teamwork, set team goals and define how individual efforts lead to goal attainment. However, you also need individual goals that are customized to the skills and experience level of your team members.
Some of the best salespeople will have their own personal goals. They may want to make a certain amount of money regardless of what the company sets as their goal. Maybe they want to buy that new car or they simply want a more flexible schedule for balance between work and home life.
When you understand the motivation behind personal goals, you can develop personalized plans to help them meet their goals. Motivating salespeople means getting to know them well enough to understand what’s important to them.
When you write goals down, it makes them feel real. Research also shows that people are 42% more likely to achieve goals when they are written down. This applies whether it’s your New Year’s resolution, working through your to-do list, or meeting sales quotas. It’s a physical reminder of what needs to be done.
It’s also crucial to tie goals into a company’s overall purpose. People are most passionate about achieving goals when they understand how their performance benefits the team and helps the company in its mission.
Managers also need to make sure alignment with goals goes beyond the sales team. When sales teams don’t have the marketing materials they need, it can be incredibly frustrating. If salespeople are chasing poor-quality leads, this can be demotivating.
Research by LinkedIn estimates that marketing and sales teams waste an estimated $1 trillion every year due to poor coordination of efforts.
How important is alignment? 87% of senior managers say alignment and collaboration are the fuel that powers business growth, leading to the following outcomes:
Salespeople are competitive and love to win — especially when it puts money in their pockets. A motivated sales team always performs to the highest standards and gets money from the sales performance incentive fund. So it’s important to keep score. This means consistent tracking of performance against goals with rewards for achieving or exceeding goals.
At the same time, when team member performance is lagging, having an honest conversation helps determine what’s preventing achievement so that more training or coaching can be applied. When team members don’t meet goals, it can still be a learning experience.
It’s important to recognize achievement and also address when people fall short of hitting the mark. Failing to do so can lead to team members simply ignoring the goals.
If you want to motivate sales teams, one powerful way to do so is to make their jobs easier. When you can identify and remove the roadblocks that prevent them from working efficiently and closing deals, it shows you’re willing to go the extra mile to help.
There are various tactics to do this, but the easiest way is to ask team members what frustrates them, what systems are causing problems, or where they run into stumbling blocks in the sales cycle. Then, work to identify root causes and what steps you can take to remediate the situation.
This can happen individually or as a group. Leaning on your team’s expertise to help develop solutions together can help increase motivation.
The best salespeople want to stay on top of the latest strategies and techniques to make them successful. Invest in a culture of learning to foster continuous education.
Both new and experienced salespeople will benefit from training and education. New salespeople need training and coaching on best practices and techniques. Seasoned team members can use reminders about the best way to approach objections. Everyone needs to continue to stay on top of emerging trends.
A culture of learning is an investment in career development. It also helps with retention in several ways. When people are better trained, they are more likely to succeed. At the same time, when there are no opportunities for career development, employees are 12 times more likely to look for a new job.
This is especially crucial for millennial salespeople. 87% of millennials say that a company’s commitment to learning and developing employees is essential.
Some managers tend to spend the majority of their time with the sales team members that are underperforming, trying to get them up to a minimum level of competency. While that’s part of the job, don’t ignore your top performers. Helping your highest-performing sales team members will almost always lead to better overall outcomes.
Ignore your best at your peril. They’re the most likely to receive job offers elsewhere and losing them would be detrimental to your organization.
Not everyone learns or responds the same way. For example, while we consider sales rep outgoing, not all will share this trait. While some team members may love being called out for their success publicly, others could shy away from public recognition.
Motivating salespeople requires your sales manager to understand what they need and deliver it within the context of the job. But each person is unique. The more you can tailor your approach to the style of management that best fits the employee, the more effective it will be. If you are unsure what they need and prefer, ask them.
Sales professionals tend to be competitive. Creating healthy and friendly competition among team members can help encourage salespeople to perform. It’s amazing how even simple rewards can motivate teams. Gift cards and small cash prizes for achieving certain goals can make a difference.
If you want to fuel fast sales, you might reward the first person that closes the business for a new initiative or the salesperson that turns in the most prospects. The more personal a reward is, the more impactful it can be. While everyone appreciates money or big flashy gifts, a thoughtful (and personal) gift can make a lasting impact.
Be careful not to design a sales contest that is built only around your top sellers. This can be demotivating for others. Creating a balanced competition that rewards the right effort can be just as powerful.
Healthy competition strengthens teams. When your salespeople are rooting for each other and supporting team efforts, everyone wins. If you want to foster team achievement, consider a reward that everyone can share in if you meet team goals.
Whether you set things up as a competition or not, tracking goal attainment is an important step in motivating salespeople.
Sales teams need to know whether they are doing the right things or failing to achieve the desired results. Without tracking accomplishments, it’s often difficult for salespeople to judge performance beyond the bottom line. They’ll know if they are hitting their quotas or goals and whether they’re making the amount of money they want personally, but not everyone tracks all the components that go into making a sale.
Tracking everything can help motivate sales teams in multiple ways. When they understand each of the steps it takes to lead to the big wins, they are more likely to pay attention to the less exciting aspects of the job such as prospecting or cold calling. When they know it takes a certain number of prospects or the number of cold calls to fill the pipeline effectively, they’re more likely to pick up the phone one more time and make that additional call.
Companies tend to track all sorts of sales metrics and KPIs, such as revenue, customer lifetime value (CLV), market penetration, conversion and retention rates, and customer acquisition costs. While these are essential, salespeople will benefit when you track metrics that help them plan their work.
We all know it takes a level of activity to generate interest. When salespeople understand how each activity below contributes to success, you can help set goals for each step.
You can also help teams by tracking performance at each level. For example, tracking email open, engagement, and response rates can help you identify areas for improvement. Often, little tweaks can improve success rates.
Identify areas where coaching or training can help. If you see someone making lots of calls but they don’t lead to qualified prospects, you can help refine the prospect list and identify the keys to qualification. If demos or presentations don’t lead to closes, you can evaluate the presentation to look for improvements or provide some in-field coaching to help assess performance.
When positioned properly, these strategies aren’t about judging your sales team, but rather about investing in them to help them close more deals and make more money - that’s motivational.
Another approach that can help sales teams is tracking their productivity. While no one likes the boss looking over their shoulder, when you can identify productivity roadblocks and eliminate them, it will improve performance and identify opportunities for coaching.
You might want to determine how time is spent on selling activities versus manual data entry to see if you can reduce the administrative burden on your sales team members. Actively look for areas where you can streamline the process and automate tasks.
Sales managers spend a lot of time reviewing lagging indicators that show performance over past periods. Lagging indicators can show where you need to adjust the strategy moving forward, however, it’s just as crucial to monitor leading indicators that predict results. When you see that sales pipelines are thin, meetings or demos scheduled are not happening, or sales cycles are taking longer than normal, you can take proactive steps to influence future sales.
When you celebrate wins, you are reinforcing the behavior you want and rewarding those who do what’s right. You can celebrate wins at the individual, team, and company level. This will send an important message that you value contributions and recognize when people have achieved their goals.
Celebrations can be big or small. Even celebrating small victories can help motivate salespeople as they drive prospects through the sales cycle.
When you consider that 89% of salespeople report feeling burned out at work and more than half are actively looking for new jobs, finding ways to celebrate successes can help overcome burnout and keep the team engaged.
While some team meetings are necessary, nobody’s selling anything when they’re in them. Limit the number of meetings and keep them moving to get them back to selling!
This doesn’t mean getting rid of meetings altogether. Group meetings are important for sharing information and creating a sense of teamwork among sales reps. It allows for interaction and collaboration while also providing an opportunity to share common problems and ways to overcome them.
However, meetings can quickly devolve into complaint sessions or just be dull. Every meeting should have a purpose and structure to make it worthwhile, and you need to make them fun. The job is hard enough, so don’t make your meetings feel like yet another chore.
Managing and motivating a sales team takes a strategic approach and proactive process. Motivation needs to be part of your sales management plan.
If you think you’ve already mastered the process, you may want to take a critical look or ask your sales team what they think. When asked in a Gartner survey, 59% of salespeople said their sales leaders don’t know how to motivate them. More than two-thirds said their managers were overly optimistic and “disconnected from seller reality.” If your team feels this way, you’ve got some work to do.
The Sales Connection can help. We use a scientific approach to create a company-wide commitment that helps increase sales. Our Growth Operating System helps establish the right processes and tools to help your salespeople achieve and develop systems for building and managing high-performance sales teams.
Schedule a free consultation to learn how The Sales Connection can help you improve your revenue-generation strategies today.
Kayvon has over two decades of experience working with high-level closers and perfecting his sales methodologies. He has earned the title of Canada’s #1 pharmaceutical sales representative and continues to share his expertise as a keynote speaker and through his multi-million-dollar coaching program.