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Increase Sales Performance – Without Spending More Money

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 instead 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:

  1. Identify critical behaviors and set clear expectations

    It can be tempting to saddle salespeople with a long list of required behaviors for their sales teams such as get better at qualifying, improve discovery, forecast better, sell more products or ensure 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 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.

  2. Coach to Activities Rather than Goals

    Once critical behaviors are identified – the “what” – it’s important 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.

  3. Target Where Change is Needed

    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.

  4. Define, Communicate and Track Key Metrics

    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.

    • Agree on their sales goal – look at what business they need to bring in and the gap between that level and current sales. Work with them to identify what will bridge that gap (more accounts, a specific product mix, etc.)
    • Identify activities needed – determine the targeted activities needed to achieve the plan and how frequently they need to be undertaken. This could be number of calls, discovery meetings, new qualified opportunities, demos, etc. Then give the salesperson the tools needed to support their endeavors
    • Set accountability – agree on how the two of you will know the plan is working (through metrics and milestones) and what steps will be taken if it isn’t being following. Then schedule regular check ins to monitor progress
  5. Recognize Success without Spending a Dime

    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 one 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:

  • Competition – whoever has highest activity for the week or achieves the most number of new opportunities
  • Bring them to key events – industry, customer, product
  • Have them represent sales and provide input at executive management meetings
  • Have them run a sales meeting or present at one
  • Help them pursue their goals (savings, vacation, education, family, etc.)
  • Help them make decisions
  • Address complaints and “put them to bed”
  • Write a thank you note
  • Keep your regular meetings and if they are meeting commitments, shorten your 1 on 1s

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 call us at 952.226.3381 or email ksmythe@pivotaladvisors.com.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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