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How to motivate a sales team at the start of the year

Posted on 9/01/2020
by Nick Boulton

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Motivation is more than Bill Gates and Benjamin Franklin quotes on a wall (and yes, we do have some of those in our breakout space).  It’s not a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma either, although it can feel like that some of the time. And it’s by no means 'fluffy' - it's critical for any business. 

Motivation is one of the most important components of sustained sales success over time. But it can be quite hard to figure out each of your team’s motivations.

As a manager or leader, you can only influence your team’s performance in two ways:

  • Their skillset (what they can do)
  • Their motivation (how passionately they do it)

Improving your team’s skillset is an objective process. By evaluating current performance metrics and comparing them to a successful outcome, you can access what areas need improvement and act accordingly. Pretty simple.

But motivation is far harder. Not only are there many external factors in play, every person requires different incentives and motivational tactics.

Common motivators

Earning commission and other sales incentives are the most common external motivators used in sales. "Reach this target (close deals, get finals or convert offers) and we, the company, will reward you with money, a holiday, an early finish, a lifetime supply of almond milk," etc.

It’s not that these motivating factors are a bad thing, they are generally good and do the job. But they can become an issue when they're the only type of motivation your sales team respond to. It's an even bigger issue when it’s not working. It’s when - suddenly - your team seem to be just going through the motions.

Why? What’s changed?

That star performer who put up those crazy numbers last year has hit a plateau, and lately their work and productivity have telltale signs of complacency, sloppiness and an overall lack of motivation!

The most frustrating thing is you know how great they can be. You’ve seen them at their best. But for the moment, the spark seems to have gone out and it’s affecting the whole team.

First, you need to recognise they have lost - or at least lack - motivation. The good news? This is an entirely fixable problem.

Before you decide to clean house and fire everyone – a terrible idea – remember: you are partly to blame. There are easy fixes to reignite that spark. You just need to recognise the slump early and not ignore it.

3 things you need to do first:

  1. Go back to Basics:

The start of year needs a “reset”. Assuming that everyone will come back in guns blazing is a mistake. Remind everyone of the basics. Better yet, get them to tell you what the basics are.

  1. Focus on key sales activities to start with, not results:

Focusing on sales results alone can be stressful, especially at the start of the year when you are on ‘zero’ again. But setting up a day plan, concentrating on that first call of the day and controlling what percentage they talk compared to how much they listen is easy.

  1. Help set a destination, not the direction:

Don’t try and tell them how much they are going to bill and earn if they do X, Y or Z. Ask them want they want to achieve for the year. How can you help them achieve it and agree how you’re going to get there together.

Once you have done these and everyone is onboard and raring to go, remember these key things and implement at least one of them every day, week, month and quarter throughout the year:

  • Recognise a job well done and give it visible credit
  • Ownership and accountability
  • Autonomy
  • Rapport
  • Professional development and advancement
  • Rewards
  • Team building
  • Recognition

Good luck for 2020!


Photo: Freepik.com


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