How do I motivate my sales team? How do I retain top sales talent? At the risk of sounding too simple, there are two proven principles that work well in motivating salespeople: recognition and appreciation. Two simple principles often overlooked because execution takes time and attention. Sam Walton once said, “Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.”
Here are 10 simple methods for motivating your sales team:
Be specific. Many sales managers will say to their salesperson, “good job on the XYZ account.” If a sales manager really wants the words to resonate with a salesperson, get specific about what ‘good’ looks like. For example, “I appreciate your ability to read the customer so well. I noticed that you really have a knack for getting the internal team to support your cause. I know you always operate from a place of integrity.” When you are specific, salespeople realize you are watching and paying attention versus using tired clichés.
Be focused. Focus is the competitive advantage of the future as society is gravitating towards attention deficit disorder. When you give a compliment, focus and make the delivery of the compliment the only thing you do. This means you are not checking your email, voicemail or Smart Phone. Slow down, look your salesperson in the eye, and focus on showing appreciation.
Give public recognition. Salespeople, by nature, thrive on recognition. Don’t make success a private event. Make a point to compliment your salesperson in front of customers, colleagues and fellow team members. Public pats on the back go a long way. If you have a salesperson that is getting great feedback from clients, ask the customer to write a testimonial letter. This is a win-win for both parties. The first win is the feeling of importance and appreciation felt by your salesperson. The second win is for the customer. (Can you imagine how inspired this salesperson is going to be working for this client in the future?)
Involve the family. Hard working salespeople are often on the road, putting in long hours or entertaining clients at night. Send a thank you letter home highlighting specific contributions and attributes of your salesperson. Thank the spouse for the important role he/she plays by their support and encouragement. If there is no partner, look up Mom and Dad and tell them thanks and congratulations for raising such a great kid!
Make the salesperson the teacher/coach. This falls right in line with public recognition. When you have a salesperson delivering excellent work, don’t keep it a secret. Turn over part of the sales meeting to the salesperson and let them teach and train the rest of the sales team on best practices. The salesperson is recognized for their expertise and the message often means more coming from a peer, who is also in the trenches. It also motivates fellow team members to become an ‘expert’ so they can appear on the next meeting agenda.
Give feedback immediately. Don’t wait until you have time to give the compliment or feedback. Two weeks later does not generate the same response as immediate recognition of good attitude, problem solving or closed deals. (Can you imagine giving a dog a bone for rolling over two weeks after the event?)
Buy some paper. Email is nice; however, a handwritten note means you have taken time to find a card and write a personal note. I have seen cards sitting on a salesperson’s desk, however, have never seen an email propped up.
Recognize something besides sales. How about recognizing a salesperson for the great attitude they demonstrate every day. You know who I am talking about. The salesperson that shows up to meetings on time contributes and helps other members on the team. Give a sales citizenship award!
Create symbols of recognition. Why do people drive expensive cars? Wear big sports rings? The car probably doesn’t drive that much better and some of those rings are downright obnoxious. Both are recognized symbols of success. What symbols of success do you have at your company? Symbols can range from certificates, rings, blazers, jackets or membership dues to clubs. The item is usually not that important; it’s the recognitions associated with the item that counts.
Get the ‘big dogs’ involved. Praise shouldn’t come from just the vice-president of sales or sales manager. Have the chairman, CEO, COO, CFO pick-up the phone to make a congratulations call. As much as your sales team likes you, it’s always nice to hear praise from other sources.
Motivate your sales team in 2011. Observe, appreciate and recognize good behavior.