Every business wants a motivated sales team but what makes this even more important in 2024?
Three things stand out as being unusual in the coming year:
- A tough economy means indecisive customers and longer sales cycles. Getting business is taking longer than ever
- The unpredictable political and economic environment means businesses need to be agile and sales people who are already a “fit” with your business should be highly prized
- Despite these external headwinds it remains a hot job market and there’s a risk that anyone who feels their talents aren’t appreciated could be prised away
You might argue good sales people shouldn’t need motivating, so let’s start there.
Remove the piss-off factors
Really this shouldn’t need writing, but the reality in many sales teams is not individuals lacking ambition, it’s that problems in the organisation knock it out of them.
If you want to keep morale high in your team then make sure to avoid these three common traps:
- Unachievable targets: Sales targets should stretch people. But if you offer someone a bonus and they know by January they’re not going to earn it then heads drop. Changing rewards part way through the year or making the calculation so opaque it’s meaningless has the same effect
- Wobbly tech: Sales jobs can be quite lonely and that feeling is reinforced if you’ve been handed a second hand laptop that doesn’t function properly
- Undeliverable marketing promises and supply problems: Whatever you hear about sales people most of them act with integrity towards their customers. Winning a sale only to be told the company can’t deliver it is possibly the biggest demotivator of all
Bring people within the sales team together
It’s always been the case that sales teams thrive on the annual conference and buzzing monthly meetings. That might have changed a bit with customers on Zoom and partial WFH culture but the emotional needs of your teams haven’t suddenly changed. Spending more time in front of a screen just means the importance of these events is emphasised more than ever.
So ring-fence your budget for team events and make sure they are days to remember. Make those meetings meaningful through learning, problem solving and action rather than just passing on the latest announcement.
In between times you can make the most of new tech to hold regular check-ins with your team to assess their morale and keep an eye on the biggest sales opportunities.
Give people skills and personal growth
Sales training has always been a big priority and while the main topics might have changed the principle holds true today.
What has shifted is the need to tailor training more to individual needs and aspirations rather than putting entire teams on standardised programmes.
Some people will value specific sales skills, others might want personal development or support with future career steps.
Even when you’re developing sales team members remember the big difference between hunters and farmers.
The former might have a focus on what helps them hit bigger targets and earn more; farmers might want support developing skills that help them play as part of a team or improving customer service techniques.
As the head of the team you’ll likely get best value by helping team members select what it is that really gets them firing.
Demonstrate a commitment to customer focus
It’s surprising how often bosses fall short on this. Too often they “love” sales, but that only lasts as long as revenue is ahead of target.
If things start to get sticky, then they are quick to blame the sales team and moan about how badly they are treated by customers.
Yet repeated surveys show the positive impact of business leaders being on the front foot with customers. Find out more here.
Those businesses where senior people connect with their customer peers both socially and on trading issues drive sales and profit faster than others. It’s proven. And actually it’s more rewarding too.
Finally, it’s crucial to make sure this is understood right across the business. Customer responsibility doesn’t disappear because your job title doesn’t have the “sales” word in it!
Have a consistent strategy
If you’ve worked out the first four of these tips the likelihood is you’re already achieving this too.
Once you connect with senior people in your customers and build on that by supporting your team you’ll know that a consistent approach to customers is key.
Your sales team need confidence that when you kick off an initiative you’ll deliver it effectively and in a way that will knock over the competition. They also need to understand how what they do links back to your vision, so they can prioritise their activity.
Your customers too want to look forward to your latest innovations and will get behind them if they have confidence in your ability to execute.
It’s a virtuous circle because the more they trust you, the more likely they are to approach you with their ideas and be willing to collaborate.
With this consistent approach you’ll sleep better knowing that your sales forecasts can be relied on. Your sales team’s KPI’s add up to your business plan and together you can look forward to another year of success.