Sales Team Motivation

No matter what industry you work in, your sales team is likely an integral part of your team and the work you do. But hiring the right people and investing in their success are two entirely different things. Keeping your sales team motivated is imperative to a successful sales strategy.

Sales team motivation derives from successful management methods that nurture and cultivate your team. Initiating a proficient and effective training program, building trust with your employees, consistent communication, achievable and realistic goal setting, fruitful reward systems, problem solving techniques and celebrating successes all work to motivate a great sales team.

An appropriate sales motivation strategy is one of the most important components of your sales team’s success. Learn the right ways to motivate, train and support the people in your sales team without falling victim to the most common pitfalls.

What makes a successful sales team?

If you’re in sales, then you know that you are at the forefront of your organisation. You are the face of the business. You and your team have to know the ins and outs of how the business works, you have to be able to problem solve, think on your feet, and outside the box. You need to know how to deal with difficult clients, listen intently, learn how to read them and the room.

For a sales team to be successful, these attributes need to be cultivated and nurtured through consistent tried and tested management methods. 

How do you motivate a sales team?

Sales team motivation is one of the most important components of sustained sales success over the long term. There are two elements to consider when influencing the performance of your sales team:

  • Skillset - what they can do
  • Motivation - how passionately they do it

To improve your team's skill set you can evaluate the current performance of each team member, determine which areas are in need of improvement and provide training and growth opportunities to enhance their performance.

Improving motivation, on the other hand, is far more complex. You need to consider external factors that affect a person's motivation plus each individual's unique motivational triggers.

What are effective sales team motivation strategies?

  1. Build trust
  2. Determine management style
  3. Set daily, weekly and monthly team SMART objectives
  4. Create personal and professional goals
  5. Effective problem solving
  6. Establish a reward system
  7. Effective communication

1. Building trust

The best way to ensure high performance from your team is to build trust and maintain it with all the people who report directly to you. 

Why is trust important to a salesperson?

If your team doesn't believe you have their best interests at heart, it will discourage motivation, inspiration and drive which in turn can be passed on to the customer. If your sales team does not trust you or the company, they are less likely to be able to convince their clients to invest in them. 

As a knock on effect, customers who trust their salespeople are three times more likely to forgive a single bad experience than if they do not trust their salespeople. Nurturing trusted relationships are imperative to sales performance, not to mention employee retention.

Once the trust connection is lost with your team members, it’s hard to reinstate, so maintaining consistent transparency, communication and coaching is the foundation of sales team motivation.

How do you build trust in a sales team?

Start at the top

  • Trust is a two way street that starts at the top of any organisation. 
  • Hire the people that you can trust to do the job right and train them to succeed. 
  • Give your team autonomy to prove that you trust them, let them take a sense of ownership and accountability for their work. 

Walk the talk

  • Hold yourself accountable for steering the team in the right direction. 
  • Be consistent with schedules, coaching, reviews and other commitments. 
  • When you walk the talk your team will respect and trust you.

Be available

  • Trust requires feeding and nurturing which means you can’t lock yourself in an office or hide behind your screen. 
  • Invest in relationships with your team members to establish a human connection - this is critical to building trust.

Effective guidance

  • Maintain a positive mindset and support your sales team with effective coaching and guidance. 
  • If your team sees you are working with them rather than against them in achieving their goals they’ll be more motivated and willing to trust you.

2. Determine management style

What makes sales management challenging and difficult?

As a sales manager most of your day is likely spent setting targets, analysing data and reviewing sales numbers. You may struggle to find that extra time to provide your sales team with the imperative coaching, nurturing and training they require to thrive. 

You can’t just take a collective approach to creating motivation for your sales team. What motivates one person won’t necessarily work for another. Everyone is unique and has their own motivation triggers. In order to help your team perform you need to know each individual on a personal basis as well as the team dynamics as a whole. 

Every individual has their preferred management style and to be a good manager you need to be flexible enough to take some of these styles into consideration. Ask your team what their preferred management style is:

  • Democratic - letting employees influence decisions 
  • Authoritative - setting clear expectations
  • Consultative - open door policy to encourage feedback
  • Laissez-faire - mentors rather than leaders
  • Persuasive - sharing honest rationale of top-down decisions
  • Transformational - supporting innovation and goal oriented
  • Collaborative - focussing on employee satisfaction and teamwork

3. Team goals

Setting daily, weekly and monthly SMART objectives for the team as a whole will help them focus their collective efforts on achieving particular objectives. Clear goals will also eliminate uncertainty about what is required of them, it will ensure productivity and encourage teamwork.

How do you train and motivate a sales team?

We mentioned the two elements for improving performance in your sales team, the two also go hand-in-hand. Broadening your team's skill set through proficient and effective training methods breeds motivation in your employees. When your team feels like you are listening to their needs, investing in their future and giving them the tools they need to thrive, employee satisfaction is elevated and motivation is cultivated.

Work with your sales reps to identify their strengths and areas of opportunity to help you to determine the training they require to improve performance.

4. Create personal and professional goals

Having a long term vision to aspire to is a big motivator for a lot of us. Why limit it just to the workplace? Have your team members set goals both personally and professionally to help them to visualise their dreams, give them clear guidance on how to bring them to fruition and how the two align. It will help you to understand your team's motivations on a deeper level.

What are the motivators for sales people?

A lot of people in sales are goal-oriented. Focus on the purpose of your work and keep them in the loop of the bigger picture. Create a culture of recognition and celebrate wins when goals are met, even if they’re relatively small. When people feel valued and love their jobs, they are motivated to do well.

5. Effective problem solving

Effective problem solving is a key attribute to building trust and eliminating issues in the workplace. It’s what differentiates an average leader from a great one and the best ones naturally incorporate these problem solving skills on a daily basis. Here’s a simple structure for problem solving:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Analyse the issue
  3. Find the root cause
  4. Develop solutions
  5. Implement solution
  6. Measure results

6. Establish a reward system

Not all of us are motivated by results alone, we are human after all. If you’re part of a successful company, it’s likely that they establish reward systems and hopefully you have some freedom with what that reward system is. If you can, let your employees choose their rewards and make them ones worth working hard for.

7. Effective communication

Each and every motivation strategy that exists before this one would not be effective without communication. Keep everyone in the loop, keep lines open, schedule communication-oriented conversations and meetings, show interest in concerns and solutions, encourage employee input, set clear directions and deliver frequent feedback.

How do you keep your sales team engaged?

If you want your business to reach its sales goals you need a highly productive and enthusiastic team of salespeople on the ground. Employees who feel engaged at work will work harder and more efficiently but this needs to be encouraged by internal leadership. 

Providing a strong foundation, daily structure and processes to streamline their work. Giving them the tools they need to manage their responsibilities creates consistency and builds trust.

Inspire confidence and be supportive of your team. If your team members are confident in themselves this will encourage strong morale and motivation.

Delivering honest feedback should your sales representatives reach their target for the month, congratulate and celebrate with them. If they didn’t, then you need to help create a plan to get back on track.

How do you make a sales meeting more interesting?

Sales meetings aren’t always the most invigorating time of the week but that doesn’t mean they can’t be sometimes. If you’re looking for ways to motivate your sales team, pick up the drive, spark some inspiration and propel the momentum then we have a few tricks to hide up your sleeve to get their juices flowing.

  • Invite an expert - or someone who is revered in the industry to talk or just merely to be present and answer questions. They will likely have valuable perspectives they can share with your team. They may also have insight into new sales strategies and emerging topics that can improve your sales teams performance.
  • Relocate - to a more exciting location, with a view, a pool or just a different atmosphere. Changing it up can boost your mood and inspire motivation. You might spark some interesting conversations or increase their attention span. 
  • Have lunchtime meetings - Everything is a little more motivating when food is involved. This strategy will ensure all your staff are prompt and inspired to perform. Who doesn’t love a free lunch?
  • Share experiences and stories - This discussion promotes healthy communication and conversation between peers while offering a good opportunity to share strategies, scenarios and skills with each other.
  • Role-play pitches to each other - a sales pitch is something they probably do daily and is an integral part of their job. It’s important to consistently develop and improve in every aspect of your role and often it's easy to become complacent. Perhaps one sales rep has some great ideas that the others hadn’t thought of or could provide critical feedback.
  • Celebrate them - Celebrate wins no matter the size! This doesn’t have to be in the form of dinner and drinks, go on excursions or bring a cake in for mid morning snacks. Praising your employees for all successes will make them feel more appreciated and motivated to sell.
  • Play games - this sets a relaxed informal and exciting atmosphere that can encourage focus and engagement. Games can also be great team building exercises that can illustrate a concept better than a talk or lecture.
  • Watch a motivational video together - YouTube has no shortage of content to get your team thinking and inspired. Sometimes information presented in a video is more easily digested with a higher entertainment value.

Is sales team motivation in a B2B environment different than B2C?

A lot of the strategies we discussed in reference to a business to business environment can be directly translated into a business to consumer environment. Ultimately, what motivates a sales team whether they’re selling to a business versus a consumer doesn’t really change. A sales team is driven by good management, achievable targets, and appropriate incentives. Their motivation to sell won’t differ between B2B and B2C markets, only their sales tactics and strategies.

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