Do you feel that your sales team needs constant motivation? Do you feel you continuously have to pump-them-up just to meet minimum sales quotas? Of course, there is always a need for continuous positive and constructive input from sales management. However, your sales force should never become completely dependent on motivational food alone. When the team becomes hooked on the regular and excepted motivational high, they become like addicts who, without that fix, slip into the sales abyss.
If you feel sales production rises and falls according to the amount of handholding or cheerleading time the sales team receives, then you need to build your team on a motivational foundation rather than motivational rhetoric.
My team is already motivated
Some may be thinking, “My team seems to be as motivated as they can be and not always when I am around to pump them jump.” Many sales managers and directors believe that since the team seems to be moving right along; sales are ok, production is par-for-the-course and no one is complaining, then the team must be on track. Since you have received no criticism and no one has quit this week, then everything must be OK—right? The biggest sign of an under-motivated team is no sign at all. That is when you get a quiet, steady flow of the “Just enough to get by,” mentality and sales people who meander in a maze of mediocrity. Build on a foundation of motivation and reach new levels of production.
Unfortunately today, many sales managers believe that motivating a team means to engage the impressionable, unsuspecting souls in some ear-shattering, tambourine banging, adrenaline pumping rah-rah, you-can-do-it pep rally for an hour or two. While others feel that motivating is to utter the right words at the right time, lifting someone’s spirits after she has lost a big sale. Or, to deliver a speech at the sales meeting to fire the team up so they will believe they can do a little better this quarter than the last.
While those thoughts have their merit, they are temporary and superficial. However, there are real, tangible, technical and structural measures that you and your company can take to help sales people develop true enthusiasm in their hearts, and a sense of self-motivation that will inspire them to greatness. True motivation comes from within.
Below are three motivational pillars to build a foundation for your sales force.
Concentrate on these three concepts, and the rest of your problems will take care of themselves! Be forwarded however, that these tips are probably not what you were expecting and some people are not going to take this very well. However, like most good medicine, it may taste bad going down, but it is what you really need.
Pillar #1: Show Your Sales Team That the Company Cares
Contrary to popular belief, the primary motivating factor for sales people is NOT the money. It is true that most sales people originally join the organization they work with primarily due to the lure of money. However, the primary reason they stay with the firm is that they feel the company cares about them-personally. Prove to your sales team that you care about them: their personal welfare, their success. Let them know that you put their success before yours and the company’s, and they will stay motivated from the inside.
Sales People Come First
Frankly, as a sales manager, putting the sales person first, should be your personal philosophy anyway. If they fail, you and the company fail. Their success does come before yours. Often however, sales people feel as though the company puts everything and everybody before them. Many sales people feel the firm only cares about the money, and that they, as individuals, are as expendable as any tool or pawn. When people reach this low self-worth mindset, no amount of money, cheering or anything else will motivate them to reach high levels of success. To build on a foundation of motivation, first you must show sales people that the company cares, and note, I said SHOW them not TELL them.
How to SHOW Your Firm Cares
So, how do you show, demonstrate or otherwise prove that the company cares for the sales person? In fact, how do you know if you are doing that now or not? Look at some of your organization’s policies and begin with your pay schedule. I am not referring to the amount you pay your sales people, nor the commission structure. The question is WHEN do you pay your sales people?
In many an organizations, the sales person, who is responsible for generating the money in the first place, receives his or her pay (the commissionable portion) last. If your firm pays the receptionist, the secretaries, the cleaning people, the VPs, you, the CEO, CFO, CIO, and everyone else first, then pays the sales person out of the leftovers, you are not putting the sales person first. Now of course, one could argue that technically, everyone is involved in the sale, not just the sales person, and that is true. There is the CIO and the website that attracted the lead, the marketing crew that created the sales collateral, the receptionist who answered the call, shipping who got out the literature on time, etc. However, if that sales person does not go out and close the sale, the fact is, none of those people ever get paid. Look at your pay schedule, your charge-back rules, your benefits plan, the sales break room, your intranet. Look deep and be honest. Are you putting the sales team first?
Pillar #2: Treat Sales People like the Executives They Are.
Treat your sales team as if they are true executives; directors or CEOs and give them the support they need to perform as such. Create a sales support system that allows sales people to do what they need to do: SELL.
In an effort to save money, too many organizations pile a bunch of petty, non-essential, non-sales tasks on the sales team. Someone figures that the organization can save $25,000 by NOT hiring an administrative person to handle some paperwork. Instead, “Let’s just have the sales people do it.” Well, you might save the $25,000 salary of the admin person, but you will lose a million dollars in the process. What is obvious and quantifiable is the time your sales people must spend doing things other than selling. What is much harder to calculate is the enormous loss you suffer due to the damage to the sales person’s psyche. How can you convince someone that they can go out and secure a seven-figure deal, when you have them doing four-figure work all day? Give your sales team a support system and staff so they can spend 90% to 95% of their time on income producing activities, and they will feel like executives and you will see motivation from within.
Pillar #3: Get Sales People Involved in Company Decisions
One of the main reasons people become sales professionals is because they want to be in control of their destiny. Most sales people will tell you that feeling in charge of their income and controlling their fate is a driving force in their career decision.
When a sales person feels that the company will do whatever they want, whenever they want, it’s all over. With total disregard for the sales person, the company makes blatant decisions that significantly and often adversely affect the sales person’s life and family. The sales person feels like they no longer control their own fate when they have no say in decisions. Also, keep in mind that every sales person believes they know more about the industry and what is going on in the field than anyone at the office or corporate. Whether that is true or not, the fact is the sales person’s primary security of being in charge of his or her fate is lost.
Before any major or reasonably significant decision, meet with the sales team, individually. Let each know that their opinions and ideas count. This does not mean that you have to agree or follow their suggestions. In fact, the sales team will be grateful no matter what happens because they feel involved.
Build a foundation of motivation for your sales team:
- Show the sales team the company cares about them
- Treat the sales team like the executives they are
- Involve the sales team in company decisions
Once you establish a motivational foundation, you will significantly decrease turnover, increase sales and maximize productivity. Then and only then will those rah, rah, you-can-do-it pep rallies begin to make sense, dollars and sense!