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  • Nathan Ware

How to Keep Your Sales Team Motivated


Leadership teams have been trying to hack this age old question since the inception of business. How do we keep our sales team motivated, happy and engaged? Well, the answer doesn't really have anything to do with you as a sales manager but there are a few things you can do to help your sales people stay on track and keep them from reaching out to sales recruiters on LinkedIn looking for greener pastures.

Everyone who is working a job is doing it as a means to an end. We all have to provide for ourselves, our families and keep the bills from pilling up at home, stable, rewarding and secure employment is a good way to stave off failing these objectives. A person is going to find work to stave off living in the streets, the key is to make sure a job doesn't become a simple commodity. Something easily disposed of and replaced as soon as things don't start going the way they like. We all understand the basic requirements for an income in a capitalist system. So great, they took a job with your company. Now, how do we dig into a sales person's motivation and activate purpose once these basic needs of survival and necessity are met.

I would suggest having a quarterly meeting with your sales team individually to set some goals, understand deeper motivations and finding a way to connect those motivations to meaningful work. What do you know about your team's family dynamic, where they grew up? What hobbies, activities or accomplishments they have had outside of working for you? Do you even know who they are outside of their sales pipeline, last month's performance numbers or work life? These are important things to understand. Like getting to the root of anything, digging deeper and asking more important questions will help you get a little bit deeper with your team and lock into their "WHY."

Clearly they like money, or they would not be working in sales, but money is simply a vehicle to another destination...What is that destination for your sales people? Where do they want to go through generating revenue for the company and plowing through the daily tasks of prospecting, qualifying and closing opportunities day in day out, while getting kicked in the teeth more often than not in order to do so.

If Chris has a new family on the way and has a lot of supplies to pay for with the coming baby, or perhaps a bigger home to purchase, you as the sales manager should be aware of this motivation. So when or if Chris begins to under perform, or lose focus you can remind him of what he is doing this for...The last thing you should be doing when a sales person is falling behind is remind them of it as well as the percentage or revenue they have to go or make up for...Chris is more than likely already aware that he is 43% behind target, his pipeline is not healthy enough to exceed target and that he should make more dials or cold calls. Those are just activities, pretty confident you and Chris know what the expectations are, despite them not being met at this time. Instead focus on Chris' goal of that down payment for his new home and the life he wants to build for his family. If need be make the on-on-one meeting informal, take him for lunch, ask him how much more money he needs in order to reach his personal goal and reach his why. These ultimately do need to be tied back into the KPI activities and revenue generated from work but it should not be about the company, it should be about Chris making the money he needs and wants to in order to make his dream a reality.

This will accomplish two things if you as a sales leader do this consistently:

1) It will keep your team engaged on their personal "Bigger Picture."

2) They will feel heard, valued and that their personal life, and goals are meaningful to you as their leader.

These two facts alone will build loyalty and trust in your sales team and make leaving for another opportunity (especially a lateral one) even more difficult. Instead of scrolling LinkedIn for sales recruiter messages or worse, directly reaching out to sales recruiters actively, your sales team will be transparent with you about their current frustrations and personal challenges that may be impacting performance negatively.

The thing is, sales has one of the largest attrition rates when it comes to employees. People come and go all the time, and a lot of it has to do with "fair weather fans." When things are clipping along and seem easy anyone can stick around and make money, it is when things begin to get challenging that people begin to start looking around for options. This is especially true if the sales person doesn't feel connected or feel they can personally trust their sales leadership with personal information. Never leave anyone on your team feeling like a serial number and not a person, and if the ship is sinking in their eyes and they don't trust you to save them...they will think a sales recruiter can, and in some cases if this person lands in a company where the corporate culture and practices are to truly connect with their employees and get to the root of their deeper motivations then ti will have been the right decision, the problem is, you could have saved this person by simply digging in, being there for them and channeling into why they want to be successful in the first place.

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