I remember in the late 1980’s when I managed telephone sales offices for USA TODAY and the Studio Arena Theater in Western New York, I always had “carrots” ready for the troops, first sale wins $20 etc. It was a “smile and dial”. The term “culture” wasn’t a thing then!
Fast forward to 2010 or so when I hired salespeople for “Buzz on Biz”, commissions were appreciated, but the culture was really the most important thing. Did my folks believe in our mission? Did they like coming to work?
Coach Darin has some higher level thoughts on selling post-pandemic in the CSRA.
Value sales team behaviors over results.
Of course, you want salespeople to successfully complete sales, but other behaviors are almost equally important, pursuing quality leads, encoding sales data into the company’s dashboard, looking in creative ways for the next promising batch of prospects, and so on. Encourage all these sales-related activities, rather than just focusing on end-results.
Be sure your goals are crystal-clear.
Salespeople sometimes get discouraged when they get mixed messages about priorities from their managers or others at the top. It’s not enough to say: “Our goal is more sales.” Drill down for more concrete objectives, such as making a specified number of cold calls per month or getting several new prospects into the sales funnel every quarter.
Automate sales tasks, where possible.
One demoralizing element of sales are the constant administrative demands. Here are just a handful of ways to help lessen the burden on your sales team:
- Enable sales reps to send out emails with a customized template that can be used in numerous cases.
- Schedule client appointments through CRM software.
- Leave pre-recorded voicemail messages with prospects.
- Log outgoing sales calls through automation.
Give feedback to the sales team (including from your customers).
Nothing is quite as motivating to salespeople, as receiving praise and constructive criticism from their managers and others in the organization. You can wait to offer feedback until the salesperson’s annual performance review, or you can coach and guide them on a more frequent schedule.
And look to your satisfied customers for additional feedback. “Share these stories with your team, send them in internal newsletters and post customer testimonials on your walls,” suggests the computer software firm Centrical.
Promote continuous learning.
Your best salespeople are individuals with talent, ambition, and a thirst for knowledge. To keep them motivated, investigate ways to extend their range of sales expertise. Plenty of online sales classes and webinars are available (or you can invite sales veterans to make short presentations on-site).
Offer team building off-site.
A team works best when it’s cohesive and internally aligned. Consider hosting an off-site team-building event, or simply just a “fun activity” like bowling or attending a baseball game, to facilitate stronger bonds between sales team members.
At the same time, Forbes cautions, sales reps (like the rest of us) are still contending with challenges wrought by the global pandemic. “After-hours activities are fine as long as you do not convey an expectation that attendance is mandatory,” Forbes cautions. The key is offering something that’s “safe and fun [while remaining] sensitive to everyone’s varying level of comfort.”