I was recently asked about how I motivate sales people to reach and exceed targets, initiate new business, and persist – even when it’s a tough market.
It starts with selecting the right people. Whilst good sales skills can be taught – you don’t have to be a ‘natural born seller’ –there are key characteristics a salesperson needs to embody, including: being highly motivated and enthusiastic; being self-confident with great communication skills; being able to listen well and eager to learn; persistent and copes with rejection; competitive; has attention to detail. The person must also fit your organisations unique DNA – if you are a SME or a family business, you should think long and hard about hiring someone with an extensive corporate background.
Then you must set expectations. Sales people perform best with objective and clear performance standards and measures. Set realistic goals have regular team meetings or phone conferences to gain feedback and assess progress.
Give people the tools to get the job done. If your team don’t have the resources to achieve their goals, that will obviously hinder their performance and lead to frustration. Giving them sales, data and communication tools they need to perform at their best can be the difference between them reaching their targets or not.
Monitor Performance. Track results, observe individual sales, relate it to the agreed performance measures – and give regular feedback. Display results, update it daily and put it out in public for all to see everyone’s performance. We provide our sales team with daily progress updates which I know helps them manage their targets and expectations.
Continually train and develop. I believe any employee is only as good as their direct manager allows them to be. Make sure you know the strengths and skills of each person in your team and adapt to their style/language. Provide feedback when performance is not good – and make it immediate constructive feedback (not aggressive or punishing), be specific, provide examples, and make suggestions for improvements.
Put a structure around reward and recognition, which allows you to motivate. Salespeople vary in age, family responsibilities, and education – so understand their needs and what motivates them. Payment and rewards should be simple, clear, and consistent. As well as incentives, celebrate wins as they happen – a congratulatory personal email or letter can also go a very long way.
Finally, make sure you provide support. Do their job at least once in a while so you ‘stay in touch’. Model passion, persistence and patience and be the kind of leader you would want to follow.