2017 was going to be different. My sales team and I had lofty expectations and challenging goals, but we knew we would attain them. The year started off well and we saw positive results right out of the gate. Then, we lost a client, we had an issue with our network, and when the warm weather came through, we were completely knocked out of our groove. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, setting goals is just the beginning; the most challenging aspect of attaining success is following through on your commitments. The onus is on you as a sales manager to correct this issue before it gets out of hand. If you’re facing a scenario similar to the one I went through, or want to avoid a lull altogether, I have identified five key ways to motivate and revitalize your sales team. Utilize these tactics to realign your unit and ensure you are primed for your best year ever.
1. Identify what motivates your team.
The individuals under your authority are a diverse group and each person has their own unique motivating factors. Financial gain may drive one team member, while for others it may be praise, career growth, or the chance to take some time off. Discovering what motivates each member of your unit allows you to tailor rewards specifically to them.
Harry, who loves sports, will be happier with tickets to the big game than a similar cash award. Janice, who harbors an adoration for tech, will be delighted with that new iPad. Your junior sales executive, Candace, will be elated if you praise her in front of the team, instead of just finding a commission check in her mailbox. Taking the time to carefully examine the makeup of your team, and learning the desires of each member, will both enhance your effectiveness as a motivator and increase the morale of your unit.
2. Have consistent expectations and a clear vision.
You know the expectations you’ve set for the team, but do they? More importantly, do they know the goals that you have set for yourself?
Providing a consistent vision is essential for collaboration, and maintaining a level of excellence, even in down periods. A good exercise is to have your team brainstorm a “vision statement” for the unit, and identify what it is together. It may seem excessive, but each time you are all together, read it as a team and remind yourselves of why you do what you do. For more information on utilizing a vision statement, consult this Sandler blog post on How to Succeed at Goal Setting.
3. Put faith in your team.
As the leader of a team and the individual most responsible for its success, sometimes it is tempting to take on too much, or to step into tasks that you’re not assigned. While initially this may seem to be the best solution, the work gets completed at a level that meets your stipulations, and you alleviate stress on the rest of your unit, in the long term you are severely damaging the team dynamic and limiting the impact others can have.
Operating within your team’s assigned roles can have lasting effects on your teams’ productivity. Giving your subordinates more responsibility helps to build their decision-making skills, improves efficiency, and empowers them.
Keeping your hands out of the pot and allowing your team to sort through challenges on their own, also demonstrates your level of trust and builds rapport. Instead of taking over when your team gets stuck, facilitate discussion and allow the unit to make decisions together. This provides an opportunity for your team members to shine and showcase their talents. The boost of confidence received from organic problem solving ties directly into motivation, and momentum as well.
4. Position your team to succeed.
Occasionally, your team will run into an issue that they can’t overcome by themselves. When that happens, it’s time to prove your worth. Maybe your team doesn’t have all the training, resources, or technology they need to accomplish their goals. If this is the case, get on the phone with corporate, your superior, or whoever is in position to authorize more, and make it happen. As a leader, you should see your role as a facilitator of success, constantly striving to put your team members in the best position to thrive.
If you have set individual goals based on case opens, appointments set, or other metrics, make sure that you have put in place a sales tool or CRM system that tracks progress towards these objectives. If you desire more inspiring cold calling results, don’t just point to the phone and tell your team to “have at it.” Invest in a training class or program that gives your unit the skills they need to win business. By offering adequate training, technology, and support, you keep your team motivated, and ensure that there are no distractions or deterrents from success.
5. Evaluate success on an ongoing basis.
Don’t wait until the end of the year, or even quarter, to speak with your team about their level of achievement. If a team member is falling behind, catch the problem early, and ensure it does not happen again. If your team is thriving, acknowledge your appreciation of their efforts and the impact they are having. Recognizing success and signaling out mistakes helps to reinforce good habits and discourage poor performance. This extra level of attention is not difficult to administer, and can go a long way towards enhancing your subordinates’ level of happiness and morale.
Being able to examine yourself and diagnose your team is a skill in itself, but a useful exercise if your team needs a fix. Read back through this list and see where you’re lacking most. If you’re able to identify the motivations of your team and have shared a clear vision with them, move on to cultivating trust. Once you feel there is a culture of respect between yourself and your team members, ensure that they have the tools and resources necessary for success. Finally, once the dynamic is in place, don’t forget to look back to your goals on a consistent basis. Ensure you are tracking well and provide feedback accordingly. These techniques may take some getting used, but once applied, you can raise the level of motivation and performance on your team in a short order, and get back to having your best year yet.