When you need your sales team to deliver more sales more quickly, financial incentives may seem like an obvious solution. Unfortunately, assuming that salespeople are “coin-operated” rarely drives consistent sales performance. Instead, our experience working with hundreds of teams has shown that strong, effective leaders who understand the complexities of human behavior and motivation drive the most effective results. These effective leaders take a thoughtful, defined approach to coaching and planning, understand their role in the process, and embrace the power of positive input.
Here are five key steps that can pave the way to improved sales performance:
It can be tempting to saddle salespeople with a long list of required behaviors for their sales teams, such as getting better at qualifying, improving discovery, forecasting better, selling more products, or ensuring more accurate CRM data. While these are all great ideas, issuing a long list can prove overwhelming and difficult to monitor. Instead, our experience shows that identifying two or three key behaviors can drive greater success. Creating a more manageable list of desired behaviors fosters engagement and increases the bandwidth for both parties to focus on the achievement of those behaviors. If needs differ significantly across your team, consider customizing the list of desired behaviors for subgroups within your team or even for individual salespeople.
Once critical behaviors are identified—the "what"—it'simportant to address the how. Leaders can address this by coaching to activities rather than to goals. While it may seem sufficient to say “we want to increase sales by 20 percent,” the team often doesn’t know how to do that. Work with them to identify the specific activities needed to achieve each goal, such as placing a certain number of calls and setting a certain number of in-person meetings.
Remember to stay focused on where the challenge exists. If there is a problem with how the sales team is performing, then the sales leader needs to work with the entire team. If you’re finding that an individual salesperson’s performance is suffering, then you need to work with that salesperson in order to drive the necessary improvement.
While setting clear expectations is critical, you still need to know that your team commits to taking the identified steps, follows through, and then understands the consequences. Make sure you’ve followed these three key steps to ensure clear expectations and communication.
A huge driver for salespeople is recognition. It can drive motivation just as much as commissions or bonuses. When giving feedback, the ideal ratio is to provide four positives for every single constructive comment. This approach leaves people more open to constructive input and more willing to change their behavior in response. Be sure to provide feedback on the spot and be specific. For example, “Great job on that discovery call! You listened well, asked the right questions, and effectively increased new product sales.”
Other non-cash motivators to consider as rewards to drive behavior include:
In summary, as a leader, your role in the sales process is critical. Remember that you can make the difference and set your team up for success by identifying top critical behaviors and the actions needed to achieve the identified goals. Then, help drive motivation with the 4:1 feedback ratio and non-cash motivators.
Pivotal Advisors has helped over 200 companies improve their sales teams and increase revenue by implementing the above processes. If you want more information on how we can assist you and your team please contact us.