The beginning of a new sales period is an exciting time for all, as new goals are set along with methods for achieving them.
However, over time, that motivation can dwindle, resetting sales team members back into their regularly scheduled programming of crossing things off their to-do list and calling it day. We’ve all fallen victim to the midday, midweek, or even mid-month slump, and the only way to beat it is by being proactive through motivation.
Even the most productive and inspired members of your sales organization require a little motivation every once in a while. The need for encouragement shouldn’t be viewed as a sign of weakness, but instead as a common side effect of doing the same job day in and day out. Employee burnout is real, and people are looking for jobs in an environment where reaching that point is easily avoidable.
Nothing a little motivation can’t solve.
How to motivate your sales team
A motivational sales quote or two might do the trick in motivating your sales team for a little bit. But something as important as the productivity of your primary revenue generators shouldn’t rely on a string of words. After all, actions speak louder than words.
Here are 10 sales motivation techniques that should be in constant motion to keep your reps inspired and wanting to deliver results.
1. Get to know the team and build trust
Getting to know your sales team and how they work best, both as individuals and as a collective unit, is a vital part of any sales management strategy.
Because feeling inspired appeals more to the personal side of things, this practice becomes even more important as you look for ways to motivate salespeople and ultimately drive results. Leaning on a generic approach here might offer a quick fix, but long term, it’s best to understand your team and match a technique to who they are.
Besides getting to know them, your sales team also needs to trust you to feel motivated by you. A person will only feel properly inspired if they know the motivator has their best interest in mind.
Observe each person on your sales team, and then do the same for the entire group as a whole. Do your best to identify any challenges or goals specific to each person. Even set aside time to sit down with them and ask them directly why they’re there, what makes them feel inspired, and how you can help.
Make it clear that you understand that everyone’s personality is different, and that you are willing to cater your management style to fit their needs.
Don’t make this a one-off interaction. As a leader, you need to nurture your team with consistent check-ins to make sure everyone has what they need to work at their best. Ask them point blank how you can foster trust in the workplace.
2. Focus on activity metrics
Perhaps one of the most defeated feelings in sales is putting in the time but not seeing the results. Prospective customers can choose to exit the sales pipeline for a number of reasons. Whether it be that they don’t have the budget or their company is redirecting their attention to another solution, there are times when it is no fault of the sales rep. However, they might still feel the disappointment.
Accompany every sales quota, conversion rate goal, and revenue expectation with an activity metric. Examples of activity metrics include number of prospecting calls made, number of emails sent, and number of meetings scheduled with prospects.
While you want sales professionals to close deals, placing too much emphasis on that one north star can be disheartening if it isn’t reached. Hitting a sales activity goal will offer a sense of accomplishment for reps, helping motivate them to find the best way to make those activities worthwhile by closing a deal.
Tip: Before setting sales activity goals, you want to be sure reps are having effective conversations with customers. Check it with conversation intelligence.
3. Set short term goals
There is value in communicating long-term sales goals. Seeing potential accomplishments shows sales teams that you believe in them and what sales forecasting has calculated they’re capable of. However, those annual sales goals shouldn’t stand alone.
Set short-term goals for every quarter, month, or even every day. Making progress during those shorter periods will only make the long term goal seem more achievable, boosting the team’s inspiration. Similar to activity metrics, translating an overarching goal into something more achievable on a weekly or daily basis will fuel a sense of achievement.
This is another reason why getting to know what makes your sales team tick is important. For some, it’s the long game they love. For others, they want to walk out of the office every day feeling like they checked something valuable off their to-do list.
Determine what will have the most impact and allocate expectations accordingly. Even if someone doesn’t feel the burn of short term goals, you can set them for the purpose of tracking progress on your end.
4. Give incentives
When it comes down to it, incentivizing your sales team can go a long way.
of top performing companies use incentive programs to reward their sales team.
A lot of people immediately think of money when they hear of offering incentives. There aren’t a lot of jobs, especially in the B2B SaaS world, where it makes sense to offer someone more money for doing a good job, but sales is one of them. If someone on your sales team closes an exceptionally valuable deal, they should be monetarily compensated to reflect that revenue, right?
A good place to start when finding the right way to encourage reps is with your sales compensation plan. Make sure it includes incentives, whether that be through a commission-based payment plan or with bonuses associated with certain milestones here and there.
While monetary rewards are effective, there are other things you can offer your sales reps that also qualify as incentives. Create a contest where the winner gets an extended long lunch break or an extra vacation day.
Not every salesperson will feel motivated by the same incentives. This is another reason why you need to know what works for each sales rep and then find an appropriate incentive to make them want to work toward.
If you’re hesitating to make these “sacrifices” to boost motivation and performance, remember the time and energy your sales reps put into generating revenue for your business. While substantial salaries are important, candidates are looking for more than that from an employer. Additional incentives like compensation and benefits can give you a competitive advantage when it comes to hiring top talent for your sales team.
5. Have fewer meetings and more breaks
We’ve all sat through a meeting that could’ve been an email. While coming together as a group can be good for camaraderie, long meetings without much unique information can be a huge time suck. Not to mention they take away time from reps that could’ve been spent selling.
Make sure all of the meetings you’re having with your sales team are absolutely necessary. If there are only a few key stakeholders required to discuss a certain topic or project, give everyone else that time back in their day to sell more or take a much needed break.
You can also be strategic with this by cancelling unnecessary meetings towards the end of a month, quarter, year, or whenever people are going to have to push extra hard to meet their sales quota. Chances are they could use that extra time to make a last ditch effort to close a deal or take a break from all of the madness that comes with the end of a business period.
6. Create competitions
Similar to incentives, good-hearted team competitions can be a good way to motivate your sales team.
Whatever you decide to make of a sales game, it’s important that you abide by the following rules to ensure results and keep it friendly:
Make it short-term: Keep the duration of the game brief. After a little while, the excitement will diminish, and the results won’t be as productive.
Keep it simple: Include one behavior to motivate to ensure simplicity. For example, you could offer a prize for making the most sales calls in a day or scheduling the most customer meetings.
Announce the results: Broadcast the winner once the sales contest is over. Use your sales dashboards to keep up with progress along the way as well.
Make it about the team: Level the playing field for high performers and newer sales reps by making the game team-based. Regularly switch up the teams to keep things interesting.
Change it up: Don't do a repeat of the same game over and over, or this motivation technique will start to feel like just another day in the office.
Making a game out of a sales goal is a good way to motivate reps, but it must be followed up with a reminder of the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Stress the importance of those values over any competition by rewarding things other than sales metrics as well, like a mentoring relationship or knowledge sharing.
7. Communicate setbacks proactively
People on your team are going to struggle to hit their quota during a certain time period. It’s inevitable. However, there’s a difference between a bad week and a noticeable trend of poor performance.
Identify areas where your sales reps are struggling and approach the issue before it can do too much damage to productivity. This can be done on both an individual and team level. Offering constructive criticism isn’t easy, and that’s why you need to be strategic in doing so.
Give people some time to correct their mistakes and potentially determine their areas of improvement on their own. If it gets too far along, have a friendly and transparent discussion to point out what you’ve noticed and brainstorm a solution.
As a manager, you need to be a coach committed to constant learning and sales training. Don’t show up with sales tips just after mistakes and losses. Be proactive in your commitment to building a capable sales team. Do everything in your power to enable and empower them to perform. They’ll notice that hard work and feel the motivation to act on it.
Tip: Find bottlenecks in your sales process using the pipeline management feature in your CRM software.
8. Show appreciation
A little appreciation can go a long way, making it an important aspect of any plan to motivate your sales team. There are a lot of ways to go about this.
The first is to celebrate the little things, the small wins that might not seem to have too much impact. There’s no need to throw a party every time someone schedules a meeting or gets a promising callback. However, offering kudos to someone after a good day on the job can make them leave feeling happy and come back the next day ready to do it again.
Have your sales team keep track of their wins. They don’t have to be directly tied to metrics, but rather any outcome they feel particularly happy with. These can be daily, weekly, or monthly wins.
Lastly, praise the group publicly. Some people might not be comfortable with so much personal attention, so doing this for the group is a safer bet. Compile those tracked wins into a group accomplishment announcement and share it with key stakeholders.
9. Increase visibility
Your sales reps should always be aware of how well they’re performing against their current goals. Offering visibility into their progress as an individual and group will inspire them all the more by showing them how far they’ve come and how much further they have to go. It’s a simple tactic, but can be effective in motivating people to keep working toward their goals.
Take this technique a step further and make sure to include progress in areas outside of sales quotas. Analyze qualitative goals and let people know the impact those efforts have, even if it isn’t directly tied to a number.
10. Share the bigger picture
For most people, your career is what pays the bills. We have the jobs we have because they help us provide for ourselves and the people we care about. While that’s a big motivator to wake up everyday and dedicate our time to the organization we work for, our jobs also offer the potential to find deeper meaning in our work.
Emphasize your company’s mission, vision, and values on a regular basis. Tie those notions with a sales goal, activity, or metric, and show the team the potential impact they can have. Find proof of the good your organization can bring to the people and community around you. Customer success stories, case studies, testimonials, and user reviews are going to be prime currency here.
This can also be a good wake up call to take into account who you’re doing business with. Are your customers making it easier or more difficult to motivate your sales team? Do they actually want to help these people, or do they not feel the human connection required to establish a positive, mutually beneficial relationship?
Lead with empathy
If you’re looking to motivate an entire sales team with one tactic, you’re already doing it wrong. Sales leaders need to get to know the people on their team so they can lead them in the most effective way possible.
When it comes to inspiring others, take the time to understand what makes them get out of bed in the morning and come into work every day. The rest should come naturally.
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Empower sales with software
Use sales enablement software to motivate reps at every stage of the selling process.
Mary Clare Novak is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 based in Burlington, Vermont, where she is currently exploring topics related to sales and customer relationship management. In her free time, you can find her doing a crossword puzzle, listening to cover bands, or eating fish tacos. (she/her/hers)
Empower sales with software
Use sales enablement software to motivate reps at every stage of the selling process.