These are distracting times for all of us, but it can be argued that of your workforce, the people who should be the most focused are members of your sales team. We all want to close more sales without adding more staff, but the only way to do that is to keep the sales floor productive and running efficiently.
Motivating Salespeople to Close More Deals
As a business owner, you are concerned with the bottom line and whether your sales people are carrying their own weight. While some managers use intimidation to this end, a true leader uses motivation to inspire their employees to excel.
Setting Goals for Your Sales Team
In order for your employees to be “successful,” you first have to define the term. Setting goals will help your team understand what is expected of them, and will give them a roadmap to get there. All goals should be SMART:
- Specific: There’s nothing like a vague goal to cause failure. Have you ever found yourself in a sales meeting saying “We need to increase sales” or “We need to bring in new clients”? Your goals should reference exactly what you intend to gain and how you intend to do it. For example: “You will make 10 sales calls a week” or “You will attend 2 networking events each week.”
- Measurable: How will you know when you succeed? What is the evidence necessary to bring in celebratory cake? If you can’t answer that question, your goal isn’t Measurable.
- Actionable: What action steps will your sales force take to reach their goals? For example, “Ask each home buyer for a referral at closing” or “Follow up with 5 individuals from each networking event.”
- Realistic: If you create a goal that employees are not willing and able to work towards, they will likely fail. Keeping your goals Realistic prevents your team members from disappointment when they aren’t met.
- Timely: When would you like to accomplish your goal by? Is it a short term goal like “You will bring in 1 new customer this week” or a long term goal such as “You will surpass the 1 million dollar mark in sales by the 3rd quarter.” Creating an end date keeps employees focused and moving, and provides a sense of urgency.
Implementing Sales Team Incentives
While a paycheck padded with a hefty commission is always a good motivator, there are more ways to keep your sales force challenged and rewarded for their hard work.
- Office party: This type of incentive rewards the entire team when a specific goal is met. Pizza, sandwiches, or a taco bar can go a long way to showing your employees that they are on the right track.
- Paid Time Off: If you’re employees are on straight commission, this may not work. However, for hourly or salaried employees, the promise of extra time to live their lives and enjoy their families can’t be beat.
- A convenient parking spot: This works especially well in large companies where employees have to hike across a lot to get into the building. Set aside a few spots right near the door for your top performers.
- Shopping days: Offer your employees “funny money” every time they reach another goal. At the end of the month, have prizes that they can buy with their earnings.
Ask Your Employees How They Like to Be Managed
No two employees are the same, and the management style that works for one may appear disrespectful and condescending to another. Open and honest communication with your employees allows you to determine what they need to succeed and the best way to manage each team member:
- How do you best communicate (Email, phone, in person)? For some, a phone call may throw off their flow while email allows them to respond on their own time.
- How often should I check in with you? Does your employee manage his or her time well? If so, they may respond better to freedom than being constantly checked up on.
- What kind of feedback do you prefer, and how would you like it to be given? Some people would be embarrassed if they were praised publicly whereas others would love it.
How to Motivate a Sales Team When Sales Are Down
If your sales team is struggling, it may be a challenge to reach your goals. But it’s not impossible. Here are some suggestions to get their energy flowing again.
- Create a team culture. If your employees are stepping on each other to get to the top, your customers and your bottom line will suffer.
- Uncover the bad apples. If an employee is negative, doesn’t mesh with the rest of your team, and has no desire to improve, it may be time to have the talk. If they are a great employee, just not a great salesperson, there may be a better position for them in your company.
- Provide more training. Is it possible that your team isn’t excelling because they don’t know how? Offer sales and product training to ensure that your sales force knows what they are selling, and how to overcome objections.
Tips to Minimize Distractions and Focus Your Sales Team
Here are suggestions for minimizing distractions from what’s most important to your business: Meeting with prospective customers and closing sales.
1. Establish clear-cut office policies
Between phone calls, emails, text messaging, and social media activity (both business and personal), your salespeople get dozens or maybe hundreds of messages every day. The time they spend on these distractions is time away from their primary responsibility. In order to help them stay focused, consider establishing an office policy that includes the following guidelines:
- A salesperson’s business email, phone calls, and texts are for business only. Personal communications should be saved for personal time.
- A specific time-frame should be set aside to respond to all non-business-related (or non-essential) communications.
2. Always look for new prospecting opportunities
When not actively engaged in closing a sale or moving a prospect through the sales pipeline, your team should focus on seeking out new prospecting opportunities. Encourage salespeople to:
- Register for and attend networking events and conferences where likely prospects can be found.
- Explore opportunities to meet with prospects in area where they’re already doing business.
- Ask their current customers for new prospect references and referrals.
3. Set short-term goals
Long-range goals are easy to ignore. A salesperson’s performance will most likely improve if he or she is tasked with more frequent (and smaller) goals. Look into setting up daily or weekly goals that will result in higher productivity and intermittent gratification that motivates salespeople toward more distant goals.
4. Look at objections as opportunities
After hearing “no” several times in a row, a salesperson can easily lose focus and energy. But skilled salespeople understand that objections should be viewed as opportunities and respond accordingly:
- Go deeper into the prospect’s business needs and challenges.
- Refine their sales pitch for more flexibility and appeal to prospects.
- Demonstrate how your business is different from the competition.
- Offer valuable solutions to prospects’ problems (even if they don’t result in an immediate sale).
- Work together with others on the sales team on innovative ways to handle objections and improving the quality of their conversations with prospects.
5. Be generous with your time and feedback
Like anyone else, salespeople stay more focused knowing their boss is holding them accountable for sales-related activities and goals. You or your sales manager should be meeting with each individual on a regular basis. During these meetings, it’s important to pay attention to each salesperson’s performance and milestones—and to emphasize how these align with your company’s expectations.
Finally, remember that the sales team looks to you or the team manager as a model for staying focused on the business. They need to understand that sales are your top priority as well, notwithstanding the many other responsibilities and obligations you have. Knowing how important sales are to you will keep them motivated on doing everything they can to meet the same objectives you have.
We invite you to join other entrepreneurs, CEOs, and senior-level executives in a confidential group setting where you’ll be challenged and rewarded like never before in your professional life. Learn more about becoming a Catapult Group member. Contact us.