How to motivate your sales team

Sales is a high-pressure department. You can feel like you’re constantly battling the hesitations of and pushback from your clients while struggling to keep up with your department’s lofty goals. Your team members must feel motivated in this area, but you can’t always easily find the best way to meet that goal.

Once you’ve harnessed the right tools for employee motivation, you’ll find that you have a powerful method for boosting sales and improving your company’s operating margin. When your sales team feels excited, ambitious, and confident, positive results can follow when you learn how to motivate a sales team.

Every sales team is different, and the best strategies for motivating a sales team focus on understanding the team’s strengths and culture. However, making a few adjustments to any item on the following list will allow you to cater your approach to suit the distinct personalities on your team. Fill out your management toolbox with the motivational techniques described below.

1. Live your company’s mission and values. Your company’s values and mission statement aren’t items that should live quietly in the recesses of your employee handbook. Manage your sales team in a way that brings these values and mission to life every day. Your employees will appreciate the sense of community and confidence that comes from knowing their business stands for something and means it.

Re-read your company’s core values and mission statement. Post both items in a prominent place within your department. Find ways to actively embody the values and mission statement, and hold your sales team to a standard that forces them to do so as well. Here, more than anywhere else in the company, your sales team needs to understand and live up to corporate values because they’ll become a large part of what you’re ultimately marketing to your prospective customers.

2. Celebrate small wins. Don’t hold your employees to such high standards that they’re rarely celebrating a success. In fact, search for ways to celebrate their accomplishments on a regular basis — weekly at a minimum. Small wins will give your employees the motivation and confidence to move on and generate bigger and better successes.

Reward your sales team’s accomplishments publicly. Use positive metrics to track your sales calls, prospecting emails, bounce rates, and other numbers. Call out accomplishments in your team meetings, appoint an MVP each quarter, and send personalized messages that regularly give people acknowledgments of thanks for a job well done.

3. Track your successes. Do you know your sales team’s greatest weakness? Can you readily cite the large clients you’ve failed to secure, the ones you’ve lost, and the lofty goals you’re struggling to attain? How about your strengths? Can you speak as confidently about your most satisfied clients and most loyal customers? If your focus is overwhelmingly placed on the negative aspects of your sales practices and not the positive, the negative focus will put a regular drain on your employee morale.

Create public tracking systems for all your successes. Encourage your sales employees to share positive comments and messages from their clients. Internally publicize your largest sales, happiest customers, and top-performing campaigns. Make sure your team has a sense of pride and accomplishment to carry them through the day, not a feeling of dread and pressure.

4. Host team-building events. Team-building events are a great way to foster sales team motivation. Sales can become a highly competitive space, with each sales representative struggling to generate better numbers than others on the team. Focusing on team-building within your sales department will foster a warmer culture where employees are willing to offer positive coaching to one another and openly share leads in cases where a different representative is better suited to the prospective client.

Sales teams benefit most from team-building days with activities that improve internal communications, listening skills, question asking, and strategizing. If your sales team operates out of several regional offices or independent WeWork office spaces in major cities such as Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, and New York City, incorporate activities that help them get to know one another. The more social your team members are, the better they’ll work together. Whether you pursue a single afternoon of team building in the office, or you plan an elaborate weekend retreat, taking time to foster this type of growth is great for motivating a sales team.

5. Make every sales professional feel valued. As a sales manager, focus on the individuals as well as the team. Not all employees will respond to the same motivational tactics or praise. The best sales team motivation gets personalized to suit each employee. Understand the employee’s preferences for interaction, feedback, and praise. Some will thrive with a weekly one-on-one meeting while others may prefer to file reports by email and drop in for a personal chat only once a month. Written feedback is best for some employees, while others do best with more hands-on coaching.

Make sure you know what motivates each member of your team. What are the person’s professional goals? What is your team member’s biggest challenges and most impressive strengths? What are the top signs that someone is not feeling motivated, and when do you need to step in to give more motivation versus letting someone work through the stumbling blocks alone? The better you know your team members, the better you can answer questions about how to motivate your sales team.

6. Actively skill build on an individual basis. Skill building is an ongoing effort that you should always be engaged with in some way. Don’t give your sales team vague motivation or feedback. Find active ways to help your team members with skill building in relevant areas. Investigate conferences, classes, and webinars that will help with various skill sets that are crucial for strong sales professionals. From improving writing skills for better email pitches to helping sales representatives better understand the needs of their clients, you’ll find many areas where helping your team members when they’re struggling is important.

Offering the right resources is an important part of successfully managing your team. When you offer valuable opportunities for learning, your employees will be more likely to follow through, hone their skills, and earn that motivating sense of accomplishment.

7. Position marketing to empower sales teams. Ideally, your marketing efforts and sales activities will exist separately from one another. While these departments should work closely together, your sales staff may be distracted from their work if they’re left responsible for drafting marketing emails or maintaining social media accounts.

Rather than ask your sales representatives to take on essential marketing tasks, ask your marketing professionals to offer them strong content that your sales team can use to support and enhance their pitches. With the right tools, such as engaging brochures, carefully crafted email campaigns, and strong marketing slogans, your sales team will have all the tools they need to confidently shine.

8. Encourage virtual brainstorming activities. Brainstorming is a powerful activity for your sales team, one that’s great for motivating your sales team. One team member might have the perfect way to answer that nagging excuse clients give for not needing your product. Another might spark an idea you can pass along to marketing for a great campaign inspired by some of your success stories.

Brainstorming is typically more successful in a virtual space. This option eliminates the pressure of coming up with or presenting ideas in a live meeting. With a shared cloud document, your team members can openly post their thoughts and ideas as they arise. You can then comb through and elaborate on your virtual brainstorm in regular meetings.

9. Set clear short- and long-term goals. You can’t motivate your sales team properly if you can’t identify what you’re trying to motivate them toward. Make sure all members of your team can readily state their long-term and short-term goals. Set goals for each person, client, and region as well as the team itself. Provide public recognition every time goals get reached. Don’t gloss over your goals with your eyes focused exclusively on the next rung of the ladder. Give people a moment to bask in the sense of accomplishment when they meet a major goal before moving forward to the next item on your list.

Properly motivating your sales team will ultimately result in happier clients, stronger customer relationships, and a better business reputation. Keep your sales team on their toes, and your company can thrive.

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