Ask anyone in sales and they’ll tell you it’s not for the faint of heart. They must have, not only a comprehensive knowledge of the product, but the ability to establish a rapport with various types of personalities, understand their needs, and effectively address their pain points. Moreover, they must have the fortitude and stamina to withstand the uncertainty inherent in sales. A product that is in high demand one year may be obsolete the next, or a competitor may have found a way to make it better, less expensive, or both. It’s enough to make almost any salesperson lose motivation at some point in their career. The good news is, there are several ways your organization can help them regain their mojo, increasing their satisfaction and retention as well as your bottom line.
Take the temperature of the room
If sales are lagging from previous quarters or not hitting new benchmarks, the first step is to identify the reason(s). As mentioned, there are several possibilities like a drop in demand or a larger economic downturn. However, if neither of these is the case then it’s time to take a hard look at the structure and culture of the organization, and nothing is a better reflection of this than the attitude of your team. Creating a survey gauging their job satisfaction (or lack thereof) and the changes they would like to see provides you with excellent data while showing them that you care about their wellbeing. Just be sure to implement at least some of their suggestions or have a good explanation as to why you’re not doing so at this time.
Please note that this is not an endorsement of “toxic positivity.” No one is going to be chipper and motivated all the time, and most people will have days or weeks when they are not their best selves (for example if they’re going through personal challenges such as a divorce, health issues, and so on). But if the general mood is depressed, or if you find certain individuals are consistently griping to each other rather than taking concerns to management or HR, you have some decisions to make. A poor attitude, even one only held by a few, can be infectious and undermine the empowering environment you are trying to create.
Help Employees Rediscover Their “why”
– and yours. Sales is an attractive career choice for many reasons – one gets to connect with people from different sectors and walks of life, a plus for any extrovert. Others may thrive on the competitive nature of the work and the highs of closing the next big deal; some may even enjoy, on some level, the lows because they serve as a catalyst to improve performance. All this is in addition to being able to take care of their families, achieve a certain standard of living now and prepare for their future, and make a positive contribution to society. Depending on the industry, some love the freedom being in sales affords them. Whatever the case, reminding them why they got into the sales game will go a long way to keeping them there. Just as important is connecting them to the mission of the company and the nexus between it and their personal goals.
Create a Mentorship Program
Losing one’s motivation can be very isolating, especially if everyone around them is still pumped about their jobs. To bring them back into the fold, you might try encouraging high-performing and/or senior people to lend a hand to those who are new to the business or may be struggling. Ideally, you should try to match mentees with those who have learned to navigate similar challenges; for example, someone who bounced back from the Great Recession will no doubt have sage advice for people experiencing disappointing numbers. Mentors can also facilitate SMART goal-setting, not just in terms of quotas, but what they would like to achieve both personally and professionally in the short and long term.
Make Time to Play
The benefits of introducing gamification into your sales process are as numerous as the types of games themselves. One is that it makes even the most boring tasks – which are definitely a drain on one’s enthusiasm for the job – more fun by rewarding their completion with points or badges. Gamification also allows people to slake their thirst for competition and strengthens collaboration, whether they are playing against other individuals or other teams – all while working together toward a common goal: the success of the company. The key is to get creative with both the games and the rewards; for example, you might award a badge for the person with the most five-star ratings from clients, or schedule a contest around the unveiling of a new product or during a slow period. Then tie the points and badges to a mix of tangible perks such as a trip to the spa or tickets to a sporting event, that appeal to different people on your team. Also, be sure to find a sweet spot with regard to difficulty, with levels that grow progressively more challenging as one moves up the ladder.
The satisfaction of your sales team should always be at the top of your priority list. They are, as rainmakers and ambassadors with the consumer, the lifeblood of your business. And while it’s true that you cannot always control all the factors that contribute to their level of motivation, you can make it part of your best practices to look past the current numbers to how they are feeling and why. Introducing gamification, while perhaps not a cure-all, definitely goes a long way to increasing morale, shoring them up for the next inevitable challenge while making their day-to-day more fun and fulfilling.