Market share and profitability rely heavily on the quality of your sales team. If your sales force lacks in knowledge, skills, or habits related to successful sales in your industry, they won’t have the ability to grow the business. Similarly, no matter how educated your sales employees are, they won’t make great strides forward if they are unmotivated.
Low morale and poor training can put a serious damper on your profits, but it’s not necessarily lethal to your business if caught and addressed early. It is up to leadership to learn how to motivate and train a sales team effectively, and to guide them in the direction of becoming a functional and enthusiastic unit.
Leading for Motivation
Motivation is a complex subject, because what motivates one person can be deeply uncomfortable to another. Public praise is one example. For an outgoing person who thrives on recognition, being praised and thanked for their outstanding contributions in front of everyone might be a huge motivator, while a shy member of the team might find the same experience mortifying.
Getting to know your sales team and what motivates them as individuals is critical, but there are several categories that tend to be widespread.
Growth is a major motivator for many. Opportunities for greater advancement, responsibility, learning, and autonomy are tempting rewards that appeal to people with a wide variety of personalities and interests.
Maybe Michelle has always wanted to learn more about the data side of sales, while Andrea is determined to manage her own team someday. Tying these opportunities to the strength of their current work is one way to motivate both of them, even though their visions of personal growth aren’t the same.
Recognition comes in many forms, but is a classic method of motivation for a reason. Sharing your appreciation in a one-on-one conversation or thank you note can be very gratifying, especially if you make it very specific to what they did or accomplished, rather than a generic “Hey, good job!”
Even those who aren’t big on being called out in public may appreciate a mention in an email or newsletter, where they can manage the incoming congratulations through a screen, rather than in person. Making sure that their accomplishments are visible to those with the power to approve raises and promotions is both gratifying for your employees and general good management.
Money is always part of the motivation for working. After all, that’s why we have jobs. In addition to raises and bonuses, money motivation can be evoked by things like vacation time and tuition reimbursement. Tying financial incentives to work goals can be highly motivational.
It can be hard to remember sometimes if you’ve been out of school for a while, but teaching does not necessarily equal learning. Having a strong training program based on pedagogical best practices can ensure that your team not only wants to do well, they also have the skills to do it.
Work from where they are. If your sales team already have a lot of knowledge and skills, it doesn’t make sense to cover all that information again. (Not only is this inefficient, but it can come across as patronizing and cause your team to feel demoralized.)
Using a low-stress pre-assessment can help you discover your team’s strengths and weaknesses, whether that’s in the form of a quiz, game, or conversation.
Practical knowledge trumps theoretical. If there’s an opportunity for your team to actually practice what they’ve been learning, this is the quickest way to solidify that knowledge. Simulations and role-playing activities are excellent examples of this.
If it can’t be recalled, it hasn’t been learned. Post-assessments and mid-training knowledge checks aren’t only critical for testing whether the material has been learned; they are also an important tool for learning itself. When we recall information, it actually helps solidify that information in the brain.
While a more extensive quiz might be called for at the end of a training, simple clicker systems can be used for quiz-style games and activities during the training, quickly revealing group understanding and allowing you to modify your agenda or pace accordingly.
Looking for tools to help take your sales team to the next level?
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