Sales motivation has never been a bigger challenge than it is in today’s altered world. Traditional methods have no room anymore, what is needed is a transformational approach that would yield enduring results.
So what is this transformational approach?
For one, it has to deliver enduring results, secondly, be mindful of the fact that one size does not fit all. It has to have inbuilt flexibility to be sustainable finally it has to come with tools and techniques that enable managers to successfully motivate their team on an ongoing basis.
Managers who spend time with their teams and invest in them, varying their style in line with the team member’s aptitude, skills & attitude have been known to drive sustainable high performance from their teams.
Sales employees based on their skills and aptitude fall under one of the 4 categories: “Stars”, “Coasters”, “Strivers” and “Problem Children”. An average sales force has a clear majority of “Coasters” and “Strivers”, a small but elite group of “Stars” and a group of “Problem Children” whose performance straggles.
A judicious manager understands this and adapts his strategies and tactics to motivate each group and thereby move the performance curve of the team upwards.
Here are some handy sales motivation techniques to use:
#1 Direct focus to the job
Coasters are people who are highly skilled but their motivation may have slipped due to some factors – internal or external. Potentially star performers who have lost steam on account of a lost account, failure to develop a relationship with a new manager, or any mishap on the personal end. When the motivation of coasters decreases, so does the application of their sales skills. They take lesser initiative, make fewer calls, customers engagement is less productive resulting in overall poorer performance. Unfortunately, damage does not stop here, if left unchecked, the demotivation and negative vibes spread like fire across the team.
Coasters need to be managed positively to return them to a motivated state. One needs to identify the root cause of demotivation and help them address it, to bring back their motivation. This may need the Manager to invest a fair amount of time and effort. Any approach that heightens their sense of responsibility, perhaps in sharing their knowledge or skill with other team members or building a natural social pressure, can be useful in re-focusing them. But what is expected of them from a behaviour perspective has to be clearly established by the manager. The task is clear: re-focus the person to the job, not the job to the person
#2 Walk the talk
Strivers have low sales skills and high motivation. A likely candidate from outside the industry. An excited full of energy candidate who is totally new to the job. Sales and the rewards that it brings are true motivation.
Strivers need to be positively challenged and driven to effectively carry out their sales development. If the skills do not develop the motivation will eventually die. As a result, they will slip backward and could become Problem Children. Sales training is essential to build the skill level and excellence. Development and financial targets should be realistic and achievable; otherwise, motivation will evaporate through failure. Pace-setting goals, targets, and bonuses help by keeping Strivers enthused and motivated.
#3 Nurture & Skill
Problem Children are ones with low motivation and skills. It’s a set of salespeople who have moved into this job role by chance rather than choice. Problem Children need to be given direction. They need to be driven to increase skill, which is a direct contributor to sales motivation. The objective is to build them up. Problems need clearly defined Standards of Performance/KPIs (SOPs/KPIs) within which they need to work. This includes the number of calls per day, call structure, staggered targets, etc. Sometimes it is also the manager’s role to evaluate whether the results will be commensurate to all the effort that has to be invested in enhancing skill and sales motivation for a particular person.
#4 Acknowledge & Reward
Stars are the highly motivated and skilled salespeople, they are the ones who consistently hit the target numbers. They are highly skilled through training and experience. They are successful, highly motivated with a high achievement orientation quotient.
Since Stars represent the most efficient portion of a company’s performance curve they need to be nurtured and shielded from negative influences.
The objective is to keep them motivated. Stars need to be challenged to scale. The Stars need lots of contact and attention from the manager and genuine appreciation and acknowledgment.
Bringing variety into the job for them and using their sales skill and experience for special projects and or team leadership, incentive plans without a ceiling, and over-achievement bonuses are some ways to motivate them.
If you can categorize your sales employees and tend to them appropriately, there is no way your sales will not go through the roof.