Sales is like a battle, where Sales Managers are field commanders, Zonal heads are brigadiers and head of sales is the four-star general. What every company wants is a team sales warriors, who are dedicated, loyal and committed to the cause of winning month after month and year after year. Sales is not a perfect battle with perfect conditions. If an enterprise has to survive and grow, sales targets have to be non-negotiable, irrespective of inadequate products, unreasonable pricing, faulty customer service, and unforgiving competition.
So how do you bring in a die-hard motivation in each and every salesperson?. We all know, a successful enterprise is all about people. However, it is much more applicable (as well as Critical) in the case of Sales. After Training, meeting and managing tens of thousands of Salespeople, I can say that most of the salespeople are relatively simple and emotional deep inside. They can be motivated and driven to a great performance if we holistically adopt the following 8 methods.
Method #1- Set a sense of Cause (not Purpose)
People work for a purpose but die for a cause. You need to build a strong sense of cause among your sales teams (and also support functions to sales). Salespeople need to have a strong vision, which should make them feel that they are part of something big, grand, noble, revolutionary or admired. They need to be able to relate to that vision and cause behind it. They need to have one big number (or any quantified value) stick in their conscious and sub-conscious. They need to own it.
This Job is to be done by the CEO or Promoter(s) of the company. Sadly, this is where most of the leaders fail. They fail to translate big hairy words in their vision and mission statement to something which people can relate to and own at ground level. So how do you set a sense of cause? The top management has to communicate intensely with every individual with absolute clarity on:
• What the organization stands for? What is the Cause?
• Why it is a worthy Vision, and why we should dedicate ourselves to it?
• How every Salesperson will make a difference to the cause?
• What is expected from the Salesperson/managers?
• How it will change the life and value of the Sales Person?
It’s not a one-time exercise but needs to be reinforced again and again through various communication channels.
Method #2- Set Goals of What and How?
A highly motivating vision and mission will soon become hollow if does not come with a well-worked out game plan of targets and performance standards. A trooper needs to have a short-term target in terms of yards and hills which he has to conquer with a clear strategy along with plan B and C. To make a salesperson put his full energy and focus into his targets, nothing works better than giving him clarity and confidence that if he works hard and smart, he will make it happen.
Every Individual has a forgetfulness curve. We, humans, need constant reminders and reinforcements. So not only you need to provide clarity on ‘What’ and ‘how’, you also need to constantly ensure his focus on the target.
Method #3- Celebrate Wins
Celebrate ‘Genuine’ Wins, and do not invent wins to celebrate (as people see it through). If your tough sales targets are met and people have brought in quality business, celebrate with full gusto, let your hair down, dance all night and go wild. Let a great month be a festivity. Evolve traditions in these celebrations (like Bumps to the top performer), which become rituals followed through the life-time of the company. It’s not a question of money, but how emotionally attached we are to our people’s success.
Salespeople generally have a strong emotional curve. They do not like the environment to be flat. They like highs of happiness and lows of sadness. The rule here is that you play-up the happiness and tone-down the sadness and pessimism.
Method #4- Run Contests and Campaigns
Sales work best when there are continuous vibrations. You need to create occasions and events to cheer them up. Though I am a strong contender for a disciplined, uniform effort in sales, sales do have a tendency to peak and drop-down cycles. The idea here is that how we have many more peaks than troughs. One way to make it happen is to have frequent contests.
Contests serve multiple purposes, they not only help to drive and motivate salespeople but also help you to align your sales performance with your business model. You can have major contests every quarter and with small and localized ones every month for different purposes (profitability, specific product focus, the appointment of new partners, renewals, and so on).
Contests need to be managed like a festivity. They need to be promoted in the teams, big noise needs to be made on them, and winners need to be well-rewarded and recognized
Method #5- Off-Site Events and Team-Building
Salespeople need to feel like part of ‘The Family’. One way to do it is to go for ‘Family outings’. Off-site and team-building events achieve exactly that. These events should be mandatorily attended by ‘head of the family’ like CEO or Promoter(s). People should feel that they matter to the senior-most folks. Sometimes even families of employees are also invited.
Contrary to popular belief that these events are for salespeople to drink, dine and dance- these events can be a great place for connecting with each and every individual at a deep and emotional level. Senior management should ideally spend each and every minute to talk to, coach and motivate people at an individual or small-groups level.
As in these events, most of the people are together at the same place, these are the best opportunities to reinforce and recommit to target and mission.
Method #6- Be Positive and Keep the Chin-up
Optimism and Positivity are the antidotes to setbacks. As a leader, one has to maintain calm and cheerfulness in setbacks. A leader can be tough, demanding and drive his team hard, but will be without any pessimism and hopelessness. A sales leader never loses control of the situation. He is passionate but not emotional in the way he operates. He pulls out his team from depression, brings them together and works on turning defeat to victory.
Method #7- Be in the Trenches
Nothing motivates a solider more than the commanders and generals visiting the front lines and rough it out with them. To be on the front-lines helps sales leaders and their teams in so many ways. Seeing MIS, Excel Sheets and Graphs in head-quarters will serve only as much purpose. The real sense of what is happening and why it is happening when a leader feels and touches the ground. He also better understands the issues faced by customers, sales-channel partners, and employees. He is able to see more in a few days than what months of PPT slides will tell.
Another key concept of this spirit is ‘Co-working’. It should be a must for every leader at any level to co-work with ground troops. They should do joint visits to customers, make sales calls, interact with channel-partners, visit sales outlets, inspect sales promotion work, do mystery-shopping of the competition activities.
Method #8- Set them up for Success
When it comes to making the sales happen, you as a leader will be all the way in. While troops are fighting on the front- you are not only giving them orders and directions but also ensuring all possible support, in terms of navigation, reconnaissance, Weapons & Ammunition, Intelligence, Fuel, Engineering and Rations. The most important expectation from a is to work tirelessly to provide the best possible support system to their sales teams.
Some examples (out of dozens) of a solid support system includes Enterprise Mobility, MIS Support, Online Sales Material and Collateral, Inventory availability and post-sales fulfillment, Sales Training, Co-working, Sales Presentations, Sales Scripts, and Product Demo samples. The only way to accomplish this is to align the whole support system to a sales target. They are achieved through coaching, sales linked compensation schemes and building a sales-oriented culture in the organization.