Keeping Your Sales Team Motivated

Sales managers frequently approach me for advice on how to keep salespeople motivated, especially when sales reps get into a rut - and seem to keep slipping deeper into it. Telling managers what not to do usually solves the problem. Most managers do things to de-motivate salespeople without even knowing it.

Let's take the idea of funnels and forecasts, for instance. Funnels and forecasts are important aspects of running any sales operation. Both salespeople and managers need to know where they stand in terms of potential opportunities, and funnels serve to track those opportunities. No successful business can operate and properly plan for the future without accurate forecasting. In theory, these are absolutely essential to the success of any operation. In reality, however, few words strike terror in the hearts of salespeople like "funnel" and "forecast."

For most salespeople, the term "funnel review" equates to micromanagement, probation and performance improvement plans. Just hearing the term is enough to shift a sales rep's frame of mind from positive to negative. He or she suddenly loses enthusiasm and doesn't know why. Many managers increase funnel reviews as performance slips, which causes performance to slip further, and in the end nobody wins. Endless funnel reviews, especially if they're not positive, only serve to reinforce salespeople's self-doubts and limiting beliefs.

Forecasts are a similar problem, but in different ways. Few salespeople forecast accurately. Nobody wants to fall short on their forecast, so they embellish, exaggerate and make sure the numbers add up to where they should be rather than where they really are. This results in managers who expect those numbers, and salespeople who dodge managers because they know they aren't going to perform as forecasted. Then there are salespeople like myself who do the exact opposite - since I hated nothing more than having a manager constantly ask me, "When is this one going to close? When is that one going to close?," I intentionally left good deals off my forecast. While it eliminated the problem of constantly being asked when all those deals would sign, it created another form of stress in having to deal with the consequences of a funnel that fell short of expectations.

Another word that instantly de-motivates salespeople is "activity." Unfortunately, in the absence of any other viable advice, most managers simply blurt out, "You need to increase your activity" to anyone who isn't at quota. This accomplishes nothing other than setting up the rep to believe that a series of funnel reviews and performance improvement plans are soon to follow.

Finally, I see entirely too many managers pushing too hard to spend extra time with salespeople who are falling short. While it's necessary to spend time with these people, it's not a good idea to keep asking them what they need help with and to insist on riding along with them. This only turns up the heat another notch on an already stressed-out rep. Nobody who is having trouble likes to be singled out, especially when the extra attention easily can be mistaken for micromanagement.

To keep a struggling salesperson motivated:

1. Keep the talk of funnels, forecasts and activity to a minimum.

2. Offer help without being overbearing.

3. Put your trust and confidence in that salesperson.

Stick with these guidelines and you'll not only do a better job of helping those who are having difficulties, but you'll see an overall increase in your sales team's motivation and enthusiasm.

Frank Rumbauskas is the author of Cold Calling Is a Waste of Time: Sales Success in the Information Age. He is the founder of FJR Advisors LLC, which publishes training materials on generating business without cold calling. He also owns a nationwide insurance agency. For more information, please visit http:// http://www.nevercoldcall.com

In The News:

It's Not Always About the Deal  Business 2 Community

How Your 60-Second Elevator Script Can Transform Your Staff, Your Sales, & Your Business

When attending a Chamber of Commerce breakfast networking get-together, I'm... Read More

Shorten Sales Cycles in Complex Sales Environments

Help buyers discover the answers they need to understand and... Read More

Outsourcing the Sales Function

Small to medium companies that want to increase sales or... Read More

How You Can Raise Your Business Earnings By 50% With An Age-Old Magic Truth

Imagine increasing your business earnings by 30, 40, or 50%.... Read More

Is Sales Process & CRM Stopping Sales?

Standard metrics and KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) are created usually... Read More

Change in Sales Organizations Starts with Me

Question: What do the following have in common?- I spend... Read More

The Differences Between A Commercial Collections Agency & Lawyer

If your letter writing and phone calls have all failed... Read More

4 Marketing Myths Threaten Your Sales

These 4 marketing myths can cause you to lose sales... Read More

Increasing Business Through Distributors

You're a small company with a good product. You are... Read More

Do You Really Want Local County Contracts?

If you really want to secure government contacts at the... Read More

The Art and Science of Managing Expectations in Selling

It is very easy to fall into a trap with... Read More

The Hidden Competition: Avoiding the 2 Most Common Competitors

There are really only two types of competitor:1. Obvious2. HiddenThe... Read More

Are Your Business Proposals Losing You Sales? 10 Steps to Get the ?Yes? You Deserve

Your ability to write an effective and persuasive business proposal... Read More

Want to Increase the Amount of Business that Your Firm is Getting?

Business development is important for every business and refers to... Read More

Hire A Six, To Consistently Produce Sales Success

For many years as a sales manager, I would only... Read More

The Spirit Of Change

A Highly Conscious Approach To Business Management. For more on... Read More

Speed-up Your Sales Cycle

This week's article is my response to a question by... Read More

Never Trust a Silent Customer

Imagine you run a pizza parlour. You have all these... Read More

How to Organize a Seminar or an Event

Seminars and events have always been implemented as a holistic... Read More

All Small Businesses Need to Gather Community Intel

How well do you know your community? As business owners... Read More

How to Beat the 80/20 Rule in Sales Performance -- Part 2

Another key reason why companies suffer from 80/20 performance is... Read More

Promoting Your Private Label at Industry Trade Shows

So everyone thought you were crazy when you announced 6... Read More

How to Improve Your Management Procedures Usability

Are your people consistently following your procedures? Each year, organizations... Read More

Beyond the Golden Rule

There are several types and sub types of people in... Read More

Sales Forecasting For New Businesses

Sales forecasting is the process of organizing and analysing information... Read More