When motivation in your sales department lags, it will eventually show in your revenue and retention numbers. As a sales manager, it can be frustrating to try and parse out what is and isn't working among your sales teams, especially if it feels like they aren't listening or doing things how you know they should be done.
Trust me, I’ve experienced this countless times in my career leading sales departments. But each time it happened, I knew I had to take a step back and look inward — where was I lacking as a leader, and how could I fix that to motivate my team?
Some of it may be tied up in communication styles. Some of it may be that reps don't see the connection between the sales process and the company's overall mission. Other times, it could be an issue of silos and sales enablement. Whatever the problem is, one thing’s for certain — it’s time to go beyond basic motivational practices and use unique tactics to drive more enthusiasm and, through that, results.
Traditional Tactics to Motivate Sales Teams
Great sales management relies on innovative practices, but it also requires a core of solid, time-tested methods. Before identifying and perfecting your unique practices, it’s crucial to master the basics:
1. Set Goals or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Setting quantitative goals and KPIs allows you to track progress, evaluate performance, and identify areas for more focused growth. This is an essential, expected step.
2. Track & Monitor Progress
Whether it's tracking the progression of sales and pipeline or the progress of individual salespeople, progress tracking is a motivational tactic. It provides clarity and forward momentum; it also alerts stakeholders if things are falling behind.
3. Provide Feedback & Coaching
Regularly interact with your sales team and help them improve. You should recognize and praise the good, suggest improvements at key development points, and provide targeted coaching that helps both improve the numbers and develop the sales rep's skill set.
4. Compensate Fairly & Reward Appropriately
If sales reps don't receive fair payment and incentives, they won't perform and they'll leave the company. It's as simple as that.
5. Stay Positive
As the leader, you set the tone in the room. Staying positive, even when sales are lagging, helps provide the right energy and motivation.
6. Celebrate Wins
Everyone responds to positive recognition. Celebrate the wins of individual sales reps and the team as a whole, whether those wins are progress towards KPIs, the close of a sale, or hitting a quarterly goal.
Uncertainty is very demotivating. Provide transparent communication, encourage questions, and never leave your sales rep in the dark.
However, these seven standard practices are just that: standard. Almost every sales manager adopts these practices; truly exceptional managers go beyond them to encourage better performance and revenue growth.
5 Unique Tactics to Motivate Sales Teams
If you've mastered the basics and you're ready to motivate your sales teams to achieve more, you need to adopt the next level of innovative processes that give your sales reps more confidence, help them build stronger relationships, and allow them to find passion in their jobs.
These are the five unique tactics I implement when leading sales teams. Use these as motivation for crafting your own practices!
1. Always Begin with The "Why"
Keep the company's mission front and center, whether you're onboarding new sales reps, meeting with experienced reps, or holding group meetings. As Simon Sinek states: “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe.”
So, when you have a new sales rep on the team, it’s imperative for you to review:
- The company's mission statement and reason for existence
- The purpose and value of the product
- Why prospects should care and how the product will improve their lives
- The company's goals and how sales fits into the overarching vision
By establishing the core goals of the business, you give sales reps a deep understanding of the business and their role within it. This framework should tie deeply into the company and team cultures, the target buyers that sales reps will be speaking to, and even your department's sales processes. Only after you discuss the 'why' should you begin the ‘how’ of in-depth product and sales training.
2. Ask the Rep How They Would Like to Be Managed
One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd of sales managers is to understand that each of your sales reps is a unique individual. Many sales managers adopt a top-down approach of having a management style and then forcing their reps to adapt to it or flounder.
But one of the best practices you can develop is asking how your reps prefer to be managed and then providing that personalized approach.
Every sales rep has a different personality, work style, and level of management they need to be successful. By adapting your management processes to fit those unique elements, you can both motivate your sales teams and provide a thriving culture that encourages long-term retention.
Start by asking each sales rep, "How do you want to be managed?" Many reps may have not heard this question before, as their previous managers may have simply adopted a one-size-fits-all approach. So be prepared to guide the conversation with these questions:
- What is the frequency of interactions you prefer?
- How many one-on-ones do you prefer?
- How do you prefer to receive feedback (ex., in person, via email, over video chats, through edits and notes in a CRM, etc.)?
- What type of feedback do you want (ex., appreciation, coaching, evaluations, feedback about specific elements, etc.)?
- While you as the sales manager need to provide feedback to guide performance, some of your reps will want a mix of celebratory and constructive feedback, while others will only want feedback if you have suggestions.
- How do you want constructive feedback or concerns communicated (ex., immediately and in person, via email, during a one-on-one, etc.)?
- With this information, you can deliver information in positive ways that are least likely to result in frustration or friction.
- If I do something that agitates you, will you let me know?
- Again, this may be a question new sales reps struggle to answer. Be ready to make suggestions of your preferred communication styles so reps feel more comfortable, create clear avenues for feedback, and even have a few stories of times reps have done this.
All of these questions help you and your sales reps understand the best communication styles for long-term success and transparency. It also builds mutual respect.
3. Involve Others
Many organizations continue to struggle with silos — this creates actual barriers to achieving sales goals and makes establishing responsibility a bit murky. So break down silos between all the different departments of your organization's revenue team: Marketing, Sales, Customer Success, and RevOps.
Many companies will involve some type of “Sales Engineer” role during their sales process, and while this is great, don’t be afraid to include others that either touch the sales process or may even interact with the customer after closing. Few things can build rapport like meeting the full team the customer will be working with, prior to completion of the sale.
This allows for better customer experiences, making it easier to hit retention and upselling goals. It also encourages better collaboration, communication, and culture between the teams.
4. Get Creative
Incentives motivate—beyond commissions. Even if your organization doesn't have the budget for bigger cash bonuses and raises, there are still avenues for motivating and incentivizing sales performance through rewards.
Think outside the box about what sort of creative rewards can motivate your team; you can even involve them in the planning by asking what would motivate them and what rewards they would actually value.
5. Create a Culture of Recognition
A culture of recognition encourages everyone on your team to celebrate wins, makes individuals feel valued, and creates a positive culture. Whether your reps are hitting their quotas, seeing growth in critical KPIs, or achieving other group goals, make time to celebrate.
Group recognition is a great way to motivate both high achievers that contributed directly to the result while aspiring “future” achievers that want to be part of the success. It also helps create a culture of public recognition without alienating sales reps that don't like individual public attention.
Motivate Your Sales Team with Help from House of Revenue
The more you can create a positive environment where sales reps feel comfortable, experience real growth, and are energized about their goals, the more you'll see critical revenue, retention, and customer health score numbers rise. But this takes going beyond the bare minimum or a traditional one-size-fits-all approach.
Deliberately personalize your management approach so you provide the communication, feedback, and management each of your reps will thrive with. Contact us today to learn more about how you can holistically optimize your team's processes with unique tactics.