Genuine salespeople are usually ambitious and driven, and they value freedom and independence in their jobs. Sales managers have customized their entry level reps, SDR and Account Executives management as most of them are millennials nowadays who act, re-act and should be managed in a different way than their elders. Their motivation can plummet if you don’t provide clear expectations, if you fail to communicate fair & achievable performance goals and metrics and if you do not properly train them.
Senior salespeople may want you to give them high-level objectives, but not to manage them regarding how to do their jobs, particularly if you do not have a sales track record. You’re likely to clash with everyone if you try to micromanage them.
Another frequent challenge sales managers have to deal with is team cohesiveness. Sales professionals can be naturally competitive, and team cohesion and morale can suffer if you don’t handle it appropriately.
Use the strategies below to lead your sales team effectively.
1. Lead by Example
The most appropriate strategy to manage efficiently a sales unit is to lead by example even if you do not have a sales background. Focus on behaviors and habits you crave to encourage and make sure you demonstrate these regularly.
It is also important to dirt your hands and help your team moving some deals along the pipeline. Boris Revsin President & Co-Founder at VentureApp highlights the importance to join some of the calls or meetings and lead by example – listen to the clients, test your latest pitch, overcome objections and confidently help to win the deal. According to Boris sales manager should “use these as opportunities for teachable moments: discuss the meeting afterward. Did you run into objections that you could help them overcome with some materials or more training? Was there anything that you can take back to your marketing or product teams to help improve the sales process?”
2. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence also named EI is the capacity to apprehend and master your own emotions in order to manage objectively. It also means that you can recognize, understand and act accordingly to the feelings and needs of the people around you.
Managers with high EI experience a greater team cohesiveness and employee job satisfaction. Sales professionals who are aware of their behaviors and emotions, and who understand how these impact others, perform better than those who miss this crucial ability.
3. Build a Good & Healthy Working Environment
Often, members of a sales team are seen as individual contributors – the “road warrior” or the “sandbagger,” whose day-to-day activities and motivations are personal and somehow separate from the rest of the company. However sales needs to be just as cohesive as others teams within the company according to Boris Revsin.
Healthy working environment offer many benefits: higher team morale, increased efficiency, extensive team collaboration, and more autonomy to focus on opportunities.
In order to build stronger relationships within your sales team, create opportunities for people to get to know each other outside of work, and allow some time for socializing during office hours. Jess Tiffany President of the Marketing and Networking University has built a team camaraderie to encourage his sales team to perform better for their fellow team members. Jess emphasizes the crucial importance of “creating a fun environment to get buy in from your team. One thing I have seen is having communal snacks, a BBQ or other activities can fosters relationship building among managers and employees, contractors and partners. These activities allow the sales team to bond, learn about each other’s families and long term aspirations.“
The last bit to successfully keeping your sales team motivated is by creating a positive, upbeat atmosphere. Mel Jones – Motivational Speaker – explained that sales leaders have to demonstrate a high level of energy, motivation and passion for what they are doing in order to boost their team. “You have to come to work on fire and set the tone for the rest of the team. You need to be reading self-help books and listening to motivational/sales audios in order to keep the information fresh and new for your team. This is what separates the good from the great.”
4. Tailor Rewards and Motivators according to people’s personalities
Each of your team members is unique, and the importance is to understand each team member’s personal and professional goals are. Nick Kane, Managing Partner at Janek Performance Group deeply focus on each reps mid and long term goals in order to gain insight beyond bonuses and commission checks that are commonly used as a motivating factor.
Jeff Goldberg President and Lead Sales Trainer always encourage sales managers to to have enough discussions with each members of their team in order to know what they really want. “For example Bob may want to put an addition on his house while Sue may want to buy a nicer car and Cindy wants to take more and better vacations. Armed with this knowledge, and the knowledge of each rep’s activity metrics, you can help reps be more motivated.” according to Jeff.
Salestools has identified 7 possible motivators sales leaders can play with:
- – Bonus and commission checks
- – Paid time off
- – Further training, or advanced career development
- – Learning or certification opportunities
- – Paid attendance at an upcoming trade conference, or membership in a prestigious business group
- – Small gifts
- – New leads, or a new territory
Monetary incentives are great ways to leverage your sales team motivation and increase their efficiency. Monetary incentives can take the form of bonuses, commissions, gift cards and so on. According to Joshua Evans, Managing Director at Enthusiastic You, “Incentives can build an exciting atmosphere in your team. Use them as unexpected bonuses, not guarantees to create a very positive push and reward those who are dedicated to their job. Mix it up, get them excited, and keep your team engaged.”
Jamie Coakley, Managing Director – East at Betts Recruiting realized that her team (mostly millennials) is not always motivated by a $200 gift card, but leaving early on Friday or coming in late after a big networking event the night before are really attractive prizes. paid time off or flexibility in the work shift is definitely a key motivator when managing a sales team of millennials.
Either gifts (pay weekends or plane tickets), further trainings, internal career development, new territory or paid attendance are also very great means sales managers can employed in order to boost their unit.
5. Set SMART Goals
Next, set SMART goals, and customized them for each person’s specific motivators.
SMART is an an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely and represent a method to build very efficient and personalized goals.
Your team will likely have weekly, monthly, or quarterly KPIs to meet. However establishing activity-based goals, such as making a certain number of cold calls each day, or scheduling a set number of appointments each week can takes away the pressure to make the sale, and gives team members the freedom they may need to build positive, long-term relationships with clients. Those goals are called behavioral KPIs. Rather than monetary KPIs (i.e. reach $10,000 a month), create behavioral goals for your team (such as attend four networking events month, host 2 1-on-1s a week, ask for 10 referrals, etc). Chris Lipper CEO of The Alternative Board observe that with those goals you can determine whether they’re doing the work, even if they aren’t hitting the numbers, and where there’s room for improvement/who needs training in what areas.
6. Challenge & Competition
Take advantage of your sales team members’ natural competitiveness, and foster healthy competition as a mean to engage your sales wolves, boost morale, and make work more fun. Competition is also an excellent lever to improve performance during slow periods. At Betts Recruiting in order to foster recruiters to leverage their extensive networks from college, they challenged their employee to reach out local alumni chapter on Linkedin, and get them involved by friday that week again a Jay-Z & Beyonce concert ticket.
Best contests are focused on strategic business goals that you all need to meet and offer interesting and valuable prize or reward that your whole team care about.
Encourage challenge and gamification but do not implement a wilde competition organization culture in your sales team. Competition culture is counter productive in the long run. When someone’s rival is doing well, it often discourages more than motivates them. Because of the detriment this can have on sales people, Joshua Evans urge managers to avoid head to head competition on their teams and to focus more on collaboration. “The old adage of ‘2 heads are better than one’ is still quite relevant.” observe Joshua.
7. Recognize Achievements
Sales leaders know the power of recognition on their team members motivation.
Praising your team could be as easy as giving a “high five” when they close an important deal or pinning up a handwritten note on a “bragging wall” in the main conference room.
Recognition from you as a sales manager is a powerful motivator, but it can be as well valuable when it comes from colleagues. Encourage everyone on your team to become champions of one another’s success. Ask your people to cheer their colleagues, and to let you know when they see them succeeding. With this strategy you can collectively recognize efforts and cheer collective achievement, which will build morale and strengthen relationships.
8. Mentor & Train your team
Analyzing and reporting on your team’s performance metrics is surely to be one of your number one priority, but your role is also to encourage your team to progress themselves professionally.
Successful managers are first of all effective mentors. It is crucial to spend some one-on-one time with the people who need your assistance most. Go through a SWOT analysis, look over their last performance review, and ask them open questions to find out which areas they need to work on. Build a list of top skills they need to improve, and help them access the training they need to improve.
The secret used by sales leaders while training their team is to focus on improving one skill every month or quarter for each reps. Provide regular feedback on each person’s progress, and celebrate successes, no matter how small.
You can also pair a low-performing salesperson with someone who performs particularly well on a specific skill, technique or process. It will create an invaluable learning opportunity for both individuals – the low-performer will learn sales skills directly, and the high-performer will learn management and leadership skills.
Nick Kane emphasize the importance of training as it sends a signal to the employee that the company invests in their career development and skill building. It can have a profound effect on productivity but especially morale and confidence.
Automation, automation, automation. If you give your team the tools to “run their own territory,” they will welcome the opportunities to make their jobs easier. This means anything between Lead generation, customer relations management (CRM), email integration to softphones to KPI measurement tools. If you leave your sales reps to engage in manual tasks every day, they in turn focus less on having engaging conversations with leads and doing what you really pay them for; Selling. If predictable revenue is the goal of every sales team then the initial step is making the start of every day as autonomous for your reps as possible.
Shawn Sieck – Executive Vice President at Intellectsoft – explains that automation is key because the nature of a task heavily influences how motivated someone will be to complete it. If a task has a clear description, concise directions, and measurable performance indicators, selling and getting feedback will be easier.
“Sales automation tools takes the variability out of a typical day” according to Shawn Sieck. A sales rep doesn’t have to manually perform tasks like inventory control, outbound lead generation, sales processing, tracking customer interactions, or analyzing their own sales forecasts. In fact, the data is readily available every morning and all that’s left to do is close the deal.
Automation allows for data to be accessible without having to “crunch the numbers” or “prospecting” for leads thanks to sales prospecting platform such as salestools.io and this motivates your team to do what they do best: selling.
10. Repetitive rhythm
Jonathan Whistman – Author of ‘The Sales Boss: The real Secret to Hiring, Managing and Training a Sales Team’ and Senior Partner at Elevate Human Potential emphasize the importance of rhythm in order to build an efficient sales team. “A high performing team has established rhythms of meetings, training and coaching that the team depends on to improve” Jonathan Whistman.
According to Jonathan these things are sacred in the sense that nothing gets in the way of the rhythm happening when and how it was scheduled. It is your job as the Sales Boss to make sure you have rhythm. Are you getting out in the field with the members of your team so you can observe how well they are implementing your sales process? Does the team have plenty of opportunities to practice, learn and receive feedback? Does your team know when your meetings are, how they’ll start and end and why you are holding them?
Rhythms that are sacred and consistent help your team know they belong and that they have obligations to the rest of the group, and it creates a sustainable energy. It helps keep the team focused and not running ragged in chase mode.
One company starts there Monday Huddle with each team member checking in without being prompted: “My sales commitment to the group for the month is $$ and last week I sold $$, this puts me X ahead/behind goal. My focus for this week is on X. I could use some help with X. I want to give kudos to so-and-so for the work they did on X.” This Sacred Rhythm serves so many useful purposes: Each person must stay aware of their sales target, there is some group pressure subtly applied just by nature of having to check in, and the Manager or Sales Boss didn’t have to do anything other than establish the initial rhythm. When new sales people join the team they quickly understand what they must do to fit in.