Sales leaders sometimes use a quote to motivate their teams. These words say that nothing happens in a business until a person sells something. A variety of activities can take place behind the scenes of a company. But it takes the sale of products or services to stimulate or support these activities.
A sales team consists of the people who drive the company’s sales. However, they also become stewards of your brand as they build beneficial relationships with customers. When your sales team burns out or loses momentum, it can negatively impact the success of your business. That’s why it’s so important to equip your team with top performers and play to their strengths. Below are four ways a business owner or sales leader can achieve this.
1. Use tech tools for hiring and training
All managers have blind spots when it comes to hiring team members and evaluating their performance on the job. Sometimes you only see snippets of customer interactions or focus too much on quarterly results. Recruitment processes, including interviews, can tip the hiring process in favor of some candidates while overlooking others.
Hiring managers tend to be attracted to similar people or candidates who remind them of themselves. Everything from job descriptions to interview questions can be riddled with confirmation bias. The same judgments can occur when leaders conduct performance reviews and identify training or mentoring opportunities. They base their decisions on what they think makes a good salesperson, and often just go with their gut or personal experience.
But the ideas of others and external tools are often necessary to get a more objective and accurate perspective. For example, technologies that use artificial intelligence can boost sales performance analysis to determine what qualities high performers possess. These tools use benchmarks and data from customers, sales teams, and business outcomes to arrive at unbiased conclusions. Managers can quickly identify beneficial training opportunities and identify who represents a good hire.
2. Set realistic and meaningful goals
Motivation and empowerment start with a goal. If your sales team doesn’t know their goal, you can’t expect them to aim for it. Likewise, a team will see no point in trying if the goal is too ambitious. As a manager, your employees expect you to steer the ship by giving them something achievable.
Goals can also be consistent with popular motivational theories. For example, you could offer bonuses to team members who meet or exceed their annual sales goals. While a bonus provides a financial incentive for sales teams, not all employees are driven by money. Some theories of motivation, such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, place financial needs at the bottom of the pyramid.
Your benchmarks should address higher-level needs such as appreciation and self-actualization. Sales teams will also feel empowered by non-financial rewards and recognition such as positive feedback and challenging assignments. Even though sales is a numbers game, employees often want to know the “why” behind a specific goal. Managers who tie sales goals into an overall purpose give sales teams additional context and meaning.
3. Create a culture of trust
In theory, most managers know the dangers of micromanagement. However, having something in the back of your mind and putting it into practice are two different things. Some leaders create cultures based on fear instead of trust because they have experienced nothing else. As creatures of habit, humans often repeat what they know and see others do, even with opposite intentions.
With micromanaged behaviors, sales leaders might believe they are helpful or coaching their team. Nor the Effects of micromanagement can be like bullying. Some experts even refer to this leadership style as a form of workplace bullying. Along with a loss of motivation, employees can suffer from depression, anxiety, and lower self-esteem and self-confidence. Your sales team could also fear losing their job or retaliation from you or other business leaders.
Unfortunately, a culture of fear leads to employees trying hard and doing only what is necessary. They stop sharing their insights and knowledge and say yes to whatever the manager says to avoid confrontation or losing their job. Creating cultures of trust, where managers step back and show they believe in their employees’ abilities, strengthens them. They are more likely to speak up, be innovative, and feel motivated to achieve the company’s goals.
4. Practice open and effective communication
In order for worker-employer relations to work, there must be good communication. When sales teams guess what’s next and what managers mean, it creates confusion. Letting people off the loop or taking them by surprise is a disservice to the team. You might also create frustration if you expect co-workers to communicate but you don’t practice what you preach.
Team and one-on-one interviews are methods that managers typically use. Bringing the group together will help ensure everyone gets on the same page. Individual chats give employees time and space to clarify questions and discuss situations that may not apply to the team. Both group and private meetings include face-to-face time, creating an instant, two-way feedback loop. Employees get what they need for their job and you get an overview of what’s going on in the industry.
However, effective communication does not only take place in meetings. Managers can practice good communication in emails, voicemails, documents and online discussions. For example, forwarding an email conversation between you and your boss to the team with no context is confusing.
While the email may contain helpful information, employees don’t know what to do with it. Add context to make it clear why you’re forwarding the email and what action you want your team to take. That way, the team won’t ignore the details of the email or worry about how they apply to their jobs.
Strengthen sales teams
Sales teams that feel empowered and motivated tend to perform the way companies want them to. High-performing teams develop the quality of customer relationships required to drive the numbers. But salespeople need strong leaders to achieve the business outcomes they want. Sales managers who employ effective technology and leadership styles can create environments that encourage rather than inhibit performance.
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