Day in and day out, sales pros face rejection in their work. The highs can be euphoric when you land a major sale, and the lows can be brutal when you don’t. Keeping your sales team excited about their jobs, and focused on achievement, can be challenging for this reason. But it’s worth doing — motivating a team and maintaining their strength is essential for the success of your business.
“Some theories suggest that people can only motivate themselves,” says Jake Dunlap, CEO of Skaled. So are your efforts to motivate them pointless? Luckily, there are three steps you can take to keep your sales team performing at their best.
1. Create a supportive environment
“The best way to motivate your team is to surround them with like-minded people,” says Dunlap. Their ambition and drive will fuel each other.
An effective way to create cohesion among the team is during the hiring process. Before making an offer to a new salesperson, let your top performers meet him or her and provide an assessment — and take their opinions seriously. If you hire someone they don’t like, particularly without explaining your reasons for the hire, it could easily destabilize the environment for the rest of the team.
2. Check in regularly
Joe Morone, principal at Worldleaders sales training and recruiting, recommends daily meetings with your team first thing in the morning. Even 15 minutes of purely motivational discussions can set your team up for success all day, he says.
Morone suggests asking each salesperson three questions:
1) What is your goal today?
2) How will you measure it?
3) Why is it important to you?
This routine will help each salesperson set themselves up for success and focus on what they need to do in the following hours.
Meeting daily also helps alert you to any morale or motivation issues that may be cropping up. You can then handle these issues quickly and efficiently, before they balloon into larger problems.
3. Clear out the deadwood
Just as top performers bring energy, so do poor performers drain it. “You need to clip the bad performers quickly,” says Dunlap, who likens a sales team to a garden, with you as the gardener. Morale will suffer if unmotivated or underperforming team members are allowed to remain on the team – it shows everyone else that the bare minimum, or less, is acceptable.
Letting unsuccessful reps go at the earliest opportunity makes it clear that underperformance will not be rewarded. To avoid confrontations or upset, set performance expectations clear up front, check in regularly to ensure everyone is meeting them, and take action as soon as you see some are not. “Firing should never be a surprise to the person,” if you’ve set the expectation from the start, says Dunlap.
Also keep in mind that the nature of being a salesperson is learning that your performance is very trackable and will be judged. It comes with the job.
Keeping your sales team focused on achievement, and not on rejection, is a key part of running a successful business. There are plenty of tools for motivation, but for a long-term strategy, it comes back to providing consistent support, motivation, and direction.