Motivation is not a constant. And anyone who tells you otherwise is lying...
Every person on the planet goes through motivational highs and lows at some point in their career; likely with some cyclical repetition. It’s human nature. We are creatures of habit after all. There’s no amount of ambition, tenacity or drive that can change this altruism. It’s simply our reality as imperfect beings.
That’s the bad news… The good news is that there are a lot of external factors you as a Manager can control which will positively affect your personal and team motivation. From my experience, there are five key factors to consider in terms of motivating your sales pros: social, support, incentives, recognition and team spirit.
Let Them Sell How They Want To Sell
I’ve seen a dramatic evolution in sales over the past decade. Sales used to be very cold-calling heavy where professionals carried quotas on how many dials they had to make every day. There was hardly any customization to individual buyers. It was just the same message over and over again until someone finally showed interest. This just simply doesn’t work any more.
Today, social media is an integral part of how people (especially the younger generation) communicate both personally and professionally. As a result, communications in general have become much more casual in tone. We’re living in the age of text messages, one-line emails and constant social connectivity.
So for sales professionals, this idea of “I’m going to utilize social media in my personal life but I’m forbidden to use it in my professional life,” creates a big disconnect. It’s easy to lose motivation when the sales culture around you doesn’t align with your personal mantra.
If you really want to motivate and attract younger sales talent, make sure social media is encouraged—not as a holistic strategy in and of itself but as an important component of a bigger sales process that is diversified to include phone, email and social media. If your buyers are social, your sales reps need to be social too!
Don’t Let Quota Get In The Way of Coaching
It’s difficult to motivate sales professionals unless they feel the support that’s being provided to them is personalized. Each sales rep goes through unique challenges. Some people will be very strong in one area, some people will be stronger in another.
There is an excellent book on this topic that I’ve mentioned in past posts called, “Coaching Sales Professionals into Sales Champions.” The idea behind the book is distinguishing the difference between a manager and a sales coach.
A manager who is quota driven and responsible for the team’s sales targets can simply not be objective with individual sales coaching. In order for reps to open up about their challenges so that they can overcome them, they need to regularly speak with someone that they 1) respect and 2) don’t have any fear about being honest with.
We have a WINNER!!
As a sales professional for many years, I can say that competition has always been one of the strongest motivators. And what is a good competition without prizes?! Some reps will be motivated to compete for the “top dog” position and internal recognition while other reps may not be. But everyone loves a good prize. Just make sure that the length of the competition is not too long.
Several studies have shown that humans tend to be more motivated by short-term gains over bigger long term rewards. While a big “President’s Club” trip at the end of the year is definitely motivating, it’s easy as a sales rep to lose sight of that while you’re in a slump. To help reps get over these monthly hurtles, use some smaller prizes in conjunction with a larger annual reward for crushing their numbers.
For example, in the past we’ve done things like give out $100 prepaid Visa cards to the top rep each month. Event tickets, cool technology (iPads, Apple Watches, etc.) or dinner with a company executive also make great prizes. Finally, if you want to get more sophisticated, a quick Google search on “Employee Reward Programs” will return you a list of 3rd-party companies that specialize in gamifying prizes with point systems.
Celebrate The Little Things
It’s been said that “our individual desire to be recognized by our peers has been the single greatest driver behind human innovation.” It, therefore, goes without saying that recognition is a fundamental part of our job satisfaction.
As a sales manager, you want to make sure to continually highlight the successes of your reps. And not just successes that can be tied to revenue generation. Make sure to spread the recognition around to all team members by highlighting things like great customer feedback, a creative sales approach, effective problem solving or teamwork.
It’s also important to present mistakes that are made as learning opportunities. If you come down hard on your reps for making mistakes they will try to avoid this feeling in the future by passing blame or “massaging the truth.” This is not ideal. If, on the other hand, you openly accept that mistakes will be made on the path to success and encourage reps to share their learning experiences with the team, you will create a much more collaborative working environment. This will help them feel more satisfied in their job and ultimately keep motivation high.
Work Hard, Play Hard
Organizing team events and bringing everyone together, especially outside of a work setting, plays a critical role in forging a strong team spirit. Whether it’s beer Fridays, signing up for an escape room or joining a sports league together, I can’t stress enough the importance of allotting time for relaxing and getting to know each other.
Comradery is incredibly important for motivation and job satisfaction. When reps have a team culture that they really feel apart of, they are less likely to leave when they feel frustrated by a bad quarter.
A Final Thought
There are lots of factors that affect motivation, both internal and external. Factors such as diet, exercise and the weather can all play pivotal roles. Yet as a Manager, you can only control so much.
If you do your best to encourage a fun, energetic team culture that thrives on excellence. If you humbly accept that a leader does not need to have all the right answers but instead needs to ask the right questions. And if you seek to always better yourself and your team, you will succeed in keeping your team’s motivation high!