15 Ways To Manage And Motivate Your Sales Team

Almost a fifth of workers say they plan to leave their current job for a new employer in the next 12 months for better pay and job satisfaction. In a recent survey conducted by the accountancy firm PwC, 18% said that they "are very or extremely likely" to change jobs in a year. A further 32% said they are "moderately or slightly likely" to move in the study of 52,195 workers across 44 countries. How would it impact on your business if your top sales performers left, possibly to work for a competitor? Based on my own experience in sales, here are some ideas to keep your sales team focused, motivated and loyal.

Have a formal induction programme. Salespeople want to spend their time in front of prospects and closing deals. By introducing new sales recruits to key internal contacts, as part of a formal induction, they can build relationships early on and know exactly who to liaise with and delegate to when processing orders and dealing with queries.

Target setting. Sales targets need to be stretching but achievable with a really concerted effort. If they're unrealistic and unobtainable, they'll have an extremely demotivating effect and your sales team will quickly loose focus. Targets should be broken down to monthly, weekly and even daily figures so at to calculate a performance versus target run rate. This information should be communicated out regularly so people know exactly where they stand relative to their targets.

Financial reward. For most salespeople money is not the only motivation but it's important to reward in direct proportion to sales performance. Target your sales team on profit as well as turnover to discourage discounting. Consider commission bandings to encourage sales people to break through a ceiling to get to a higher level. Personally, I favour paying monthly commissions, rather than quarterly or having an annual bonus.

Encourage healthy competition. Salespeople are competitive animals! Prominently displaying a "league table" of individual sales achievement will encourage them to stay focused and outperform one another, so as to get the public recognition they crave.

Field accompaniments. People, regardless of whether they're in sales or not, like to feel valued. Arranging regular field accompaniments shows that you're interested in supporting and coaching them as individuals. This is a great opportunity for you to observe the salesperson, confirm that they're following best practice and experience any issues and challenges they might face resulting in greater empathy.

Regular one to ones. As part of managing your sales team, you should diarise regular review meetings with each salesperson. With an agreed agenda, you can discuss their business pipeline including the value of all deals, where they are in the sales process, the probability of closing and the timescale for this to happen. Salespeople can sometimes exaggerate the likelihood of winning business so it's your responsibility to fact find and assess how realistic they're being. Meetings should always be constructive and you should ask how you, as their manager, might be able to assist them in closing these deals, perhaps through a joint visit.

Sales systems. Selling well is a combination of skill and activity levels. If you put systems in place that slow up the salesperson, you'll cause unnecessary frustration. For example, if they're doing a telesales session and updating a customer relationship management (CRM) system as they go, the last thing they'll be wanting to do is navigating through countless screens to enter information from the conversations that they've had. It's impossible to get a good momentum going if for every minute on the phone you're spending 10 minutes on data entry.

Improved communication. Mobile phones and tablets make it very easy these days for field based salespeople to communicate with prospects, customers and colleagues. For a small investment, salespeople can have access to their CRM system, respond quickly to emails and sales enquiries and enlist the help of colleagues to resolve any issues.

Empower your sales team. In my experience, the best managers are those that set objectives but then leave it to the individual to formulate a plan to achieve these based on their own skills and experience. People love the freedom of being able to work on their own initiative so don't discourage those who can sell more creatively.

Be mindful of personality types. One of the traits of a good manager is their ability to quickly pick up on the different personality types and adapt their communication and management styles accordingly. Consider investing in personality profiling to establish what makes each of your salespeople "tick" i.e. motivators, fears and selling style.

Ideas sharing. Make the sharing of ideas a part of each and every sales meeting. People need to feel valued and that their thoughts are appreciated. Encourage every member of the sales team to talk about business wins since the previous meeting, what new sales opportunities they've identified and what's worked well for them in prospecting, appointment making and closing deals. Again, salespeople love public recognition but it's also a great opportunity to share best practice.

Encourage flexible working. If a salesperson who manages a territory some distance from the office has to commute in to complete administrative tasks, this can be demotivational due to the unproductive use of selling time. Where possible, provide them with a home office set up and reassess your processes and procedures with remote workers in mind. Consider the opportunity cost of all that time spent in traffic jams!

Training and development. As part of their continual professional development, all salespeople should attend sales training courses. Learning new skills which can be applied immediately to improve sales effectiveness can be extremely motivational. This positively impacts on sales revenue and company profitability and so is a great return on investment.

Career progression. Salespeople like to know that there is a career path within the company they work for. Having something that they can work towards where they're able to take on added responsibility, be recognised through promotions and improve their earning potential are all important factors.

Team building. People can have preconceived ideas about the people they work with and sometimes this can discourage open communication and team working. Organise activities outside of work in a social setting where people can relax and are able to warm to others.

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Bruce McLeod
Experienced coach, mentor and sales professional.

Helping ambitious startups and established businesses to grow quickly and profitably.

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