According to the global research firm Gallup, about two-thirds of all employees are not engaged in their work, resulting in lost productivity running to hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Motivation plays a huge factor in this.

As a sales manager or business owner, you can only influence your team’s individual sales performance in two ways by developing their sales skills and fuelling their motivation. Improving your team’s skill set is a logical process. By evaluating current performance metrics against a target or forecast, you can diagnose what areas need improvement and act accordingly.

But motivation is much harder to achieve. It’s about individual, team-wide and company momentum. There are lots of external factors that affect motivation. Every person responds differently to stress and adversity, and so a manager may need to approach each individual slightly differently to effect appropriate change. Here are seven proven ideas that one can implement immediately to help motivate your sales force to go the extra mile.

1 Foster Trust

Build trust with the people on your team. The foundation of motivation is trust. If your team doesn’t trust you and doesn’t believe that you have their best interest at heart, it’ll be difficult for them to feel inspired and driven by their work. When salespeople are unmotivated, you won’t be able to re-inspire them unless you have regular open and honest conversations about their challenges and goals – something that simply won’t happen without trust.

You have to create that trust and maintain it by engaging with your team in a consistent, nurturing fashion. The best way to build trust is to be completely transparent. Sometimes it can be as simple and direct as saying: I want to make sure we are in a trusting relationship. How can we build trust between us? This is an effective way to explain to the team that you are interested in working on a business relationship, rather than being the boss.

2 Involve the Team

Ask your salespeople how they like to be managed. Here are three important things to share with each new salesperson:

>> Everybody’s personality is different.

>> I want to be an effective manager for your work style and personality.

>> I can modify my behaviour to fit your needs. How do you want to be managed?

Different prospects will require different selling styles and so an effective manager must understand that he should adopt a motivational style that is suited for each individual salesperson, instead of forcing one method or strategy on everyone. Here are some questions you can ask salespeople to assess their working style:

>> What is the pace of check-in that you prefer? Do you want to meet with me once a week, every other week, or multiple times a week?

>> How do you want me to give you feedback?

>> Do you prefer public or private praise and feedback?

>> What type of feedback do you prefer?

>> If I hear something amiss, do you want me to tell you, email you, wait until our one-on-one, or something else?

>> If something I do gets on your nerves, will you let me know?

3 Set Individual Goals

Understand your sales reps personal and professional goals. You can’t motivate someone unless you know what drives them. Understand what each salesperson wants to accomplish in their personal and professional lives. This will not only show you the type of person they are, but also give you some insight into what will motivate them the most.

Once you understand their goals, ask them the following questions:

>> Are you motivated right now?

>> What motivates you long term?

>> What can you do to motivate yourself?

>> How will I know if you are not motivated?

>> What do you want me to do if you don’t appear motivated?

Give them some time to think before they answer. Forcing your reps to be self-reflective makes it more likely they’ll give you thoughtful answers, which will be better for you both in the long run.

4 Break These Goals Down

Set daily, weekly and monthly goals. You need to understand that different people are motivated in different ways. Some people are motivated by team-wide sales contests. Some are driven by quota achievement. Some are motivated by qualitative improvements. Some people are motivated by their impact on the organisation. Some are only motivated by money.

Sometimes the goal is not to get a sale each day, but to reach out to 12 new prospects that day. Make 25 calls. Or to book two meetings at a client’s office each day. Or to make 25 quotations each week. These kinds of activities are particularly useful if the sales cycle is long. It may well plant the seeds of future sales that you will reap in later months. What daily, weekly and monthly goals are your sales reps setting?

5 Run Contests

Plan a contest for the next month or quarter. Here are some things to consider when planning sales contests:

>> Determine what you want the contest to accomplish.

>> Incorporate an exciting theme.

>> Set the ground rules. Are all sales people on an equal basis for the contest? Be sure to put the rules in writing, making provisions for those and other situations that could arise.

>> Make the contest length the same as the sales cycle,

>> Set specific goals that can be measured weekly or monthly.

>> Consider making rewards gifts, rather than cash.

>> Boost team motivation by getting their families involved.

6 Set up a Fair Compensation Model

Key among the motivators for your sales team is the compensation you offer them. To motivate salespeople the best compensation model involves a combination of basic salary and commission tied to individual sales targets. Sales targets need to be fair and achievable. If they aren’t, you’ll just demotivate your salespeople.

The base pay level should be set at an amount that is less than ideal on its own, so your salespeople are motivated to put in the effort to make sales and earn an attractive commission. Ideally, the commission should be structured as a percentage on each sale made, for example 10%. Once the salesperson’s target has been met, then they should qualify for an additional reward say a bump to 15% on those sales above that target. This is important as you want to make sure that you keep your best salespeople happy and continue to motivate them even after they have met their monthly targets. This is what drives overall company success.

Conversely, underperforming salespeople will either have to up their game (try harder, develop skills, get a mentor) or they will eventually be pushed out of the firm, either by leaving on their own accord, or by being let go due to under-performance. This brings us to the next motivational strategy: training.

7 Provide (Ongoing) Training

Most of us are not born salespeople, and some sort of training will be necessary early on. This can take the form of in-house training with a senior employee in a mentor role, enrolling team members in a proper sales course, or bringing in outside sales specialists or consultants to train and assess your team. Regular training ensures you are always effective, and can be a great source of new ideas and strategies. Don’t think of it as a sign of weakness if and when an employee asks for additional training, in fact, this should be encouraged.

At the end of the day, motivating your team is your responsibility. And it means pinpointing the things that makes your sales team willing to go the extra mile for the business. Find the thing that makes each of your reps tick, and the ones who have that special drive and ability to work for a reward will shine for you. And make you look good too.

Remember, a happy team is a productive team. Avoid motivation killers, and fix any problems as quickly as possible. And then watch your team’s morale and your sales success return.

By: Sean Clancy