When you’re running a business, your sales team is an instrumental piece in your success strategy. However, a team that is stagnant and uninspired is not going to take you where you need to go. Building an environment that motivates and encourages your sales team has the dual benefit of keeping employees happy (leading to less turnover) and bringing in new business (leading to more revenue).
Less turnover and more revenue are hard to argue with, but your sales team needs you to get them to that point. Here are six strategies to guide you and your employees to a place of empowerment, growth and satisfaction:
1. Train them to meet expectations.
As a leader, you are fully responsible for the success (or lack thereof) of your sales team. It’s up to you how organized and motivated they are in their daily responsibilities, so be sure you are clear with your expectations.
With a specific training process in place, you can ensure that every team member is receiving consistent instruction and that everybody is on the same page. For new employees, provide them with a detailed training manual so they can guide themselves to success. This also acts as a useful resource for existing staff who need a refresher from time to time.
Helping your team set individual and group goals is an excellent way to push them towards meeting (and exceeding) your expectations. If you expect to see numbers on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, make it known so that all employees are prepared to strive toward their goals.
2. Check in regularly.
Your team relies on you for support toward their (and, ultimately, your) goals, so don’t leave them to fend for themselves until it’s time for your scheduled assessments. Instead, check in with them often to track their progress and encourage them in constructive ways. Every week or two is reasonable, but don’t spring it on them. Let them know a time to report so they can come prepared with all of the metrics necessary for evaluation.
With that said, avoid being the micro-manager. Employee empowerment is essential to growth, and accept that nothing will get done if you stand as a gatekeeper for every little decision. Outside of your check-ins, let your team know that your door is open, but have faith that they are committed to the task at hand.
3. Coach them individually.
Your sales team is just that—a team. However, don’t let yourself fall into the habit of seeing them as one unit. Instead, the whole is made up of individuals who have different strengths, weaknesses, values and personalities.
Work with each of them on a personal level to determine the best motivators that will drive them towards success. Some may be encouraged by positive affirmations, whereas others might respond better to a monetary bonus or extra time off.
Look at their strengths and weaknesses as well. You might find that certain members of your team are better suited for different tasks, which allows you to effectively assign responsibilities. Of course, it’s also worth connecting with your employees to see what part of the job they’re enjoying the most--the more engaged and passionate they are about a task, the better they will perform.
4. Promote healthy competition.
In-house competition sometimes feels dangerous--and with good reason. In some settings, it can quickly become a toxic environment. However, healthy competition (keyword: healthy) is an excellent way to drive up sales and push your team members to do their best. Understand the morale and the culture within your company to determine if it’s a good fit for your team.
Keep the prizes reasonable to prevent employees from going overboard. Think extra recognition or a gift card for coffee, not an all-expenses-paid vacation to Tahiti. You get the gist. The idea is to foster an environment of motivated individuals, not one of resentment. If it becomes a routine, those who miss out one week will be more driven to win the following week.
5. Practice role-playing.
Putting your staff in a role-playing activity is a great way for them to practice their sales skills internally, while also providing you the chance to give them constructive feedback. Have someone play a customer and another person fill the role as the salesperson. Let them play it out, then flip the script and reverse roles.
In addition to providing real-world sales practice, this is also an excellent way for employees to think of customer questions and problems that will help them create better answers. Being in the customer’s shoes is just as valuable as being on the sales side.
6. Take your team out and about.
A big part of sales is interpersonal communication, and it’s hard to hone that skill when you’re sitting in a stuffy office at a computer. Bring your sales team out to networking events and meet-and-greets to immerse them into that type of environment. Have them bring their business cards, and make it a competition to see who can hand out the most (meaningful conversations only, please!).
As your employees grow more comfortable in their role as brand ambassador for your company, they will be more effective on the front lines, whether they’re at an event or making cold calls.
Any person can sit at a desk and answer phone calls. Expect more from your sales team, and push them to reach a new level of success. Teach them the value of being proactive, as opposed to reactive. When you have a team of motivated go-getters, you’ll see your company culture, and your bottom line, skyrocket to success.
With 30 years of experience owning event planning, high-end catering, and design and decor companies, Meryl Snow is on a mission to help businesses get on their own path to success. As a senior consultant and sales trainer for SnowStorm Solutions, she travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design and branding. As a member of the Wedding Industry Speakers, she speaks with groups from the heart and covers the funny side of life and business.