Tips for sales managers, sales directors & business owners.
Creating high performance sales teams is essential for any business wanting to achieve sales growth. Proactive, positive, consistent new business winning teams and salespeople are the holy grail of any sales organisation.
All of my clients have their own unique ways of motivating, managing and leading their sales teams yet they all have problems from time to time in keeping those teams on target, focused and “up for it!”
I’ve recently finished a tour with my Motivate People sales training seminar for sales managers, sales directors and business owners and I thought now would be a good time to review some top tips for building a proactive, results oriented, high performance sales team that achieves top sales results.
In this article I am going to outline 5 of the most effective motivational strategies and techniques that I have used to help many of my clients to overachieve on their personal, their team and their business goals.
1) Focus on the individual
You need to concentrate on helping your salespeople to understand and motivate themselves better. Help them to understand why they are in a sales role and what they want to get out of it. Ask them what’s important to them about their work.
What do they want to achieve? Why do they want to achieve this? What will happen if they achieve it? What will happen if they don’t? What importance does winning new business play in the achievement of those goals?
Begin to identify areas where they can gain quick wins. Helping your team members to secure small successes paves the way to larger successes, increased motivation and more activity. Make sure that they fully understand the links between increased activity, increased results and increased rewards.
Working mostly on their own and with your support you are looking to open their minds to a new way of thinking. Why not create a questionnaire or an audit of where they are at right now? What about creating a coaching form or process? This need only take a few minutes per team member per day but can produce phenomenal sales results.
2) Train on key sales attitudes, skills and techniques
Decide what the key attitudes and skills are that your team need to be successful in winning new business consistently. Create a simple, repeatable training programme and bring your team up to speed in these techniques and skills as fast as possible.
It always amazes me how so many sales teams have no formal process for new business generation with different team members working substantially different strategies to try and generate new business.
Putting together a programme of proven skills, techniques and activities will become associated with professionalism in the minds of your salespeople and when you are looking to change beliefs, attitudes and skills this is paramount.
Start your training right now. You don’t need to be a great trainer or an expert to do this. You can always call an expert in sales training (like me or one of my team) later on! For the moment, what you’re trying to do is help your sales team to feel valued, focus on what’s important to them, and improve fundamental areas of the sales process.
Training Tip 1: Before you even start training you need to get your staff to view sales skills training in the most productive light. There will be some on your sales team who think that they don’t need sales training at all, or who think that they’re above it or that it’s a waste of their important time! If you don’t change this limiting mindset before you start then the results you get will be unpredictable at best.
Try telling a story about peak performers and how training is important to their success. Get your staff to do a brainstorming exercise on why it’s essential for them to really take on board this sales training. Make sure that you ask them what their outcomes are prior to every training session.
Training Tip 2: When doing sales training you will find that there may be many conflicting sources of information with one sales trainer saying one thing and another saying another. Try to stick to simple repeatable sales structures and processes and one or two sales methodologies that work together.
3) Teach personal responsibility
It is impossible to force individuals to change and even if you could, doing so would only create resistance. That said, once you have the “buy-in” of your sales team you need to empower them to take control of their sales development programme for themselves.
Creating a personal action plan for each salesperson helps to consolidate their thoughts, hones their personal sales skills and enforces the key attitudes and behaviours necessary for sales success.
Your company may well have suitable action plans already that you can use and I’m sure that they will be well thought out and structured. It’s worth noting however that in my experience it’s usually more effective for the sales coach to develop their own sales coaching and action plans because they will be totally focused on your sales teams and your style of sales coaching.
4) Reinforce key behaviours
One of the questions that gets asked by business owners and sales training buyers for companies is, “What return on investment will I get from this sales training programme?” I’ve seen many convoluted answers from training and development companies however the most honest answer is probably, “It depends what you do when I leave!”
Even as an sales speaker and sales training expert I aim to engage your sales staff, create mindset change and inspire them to take massive action. Unless I am paid to stay around however I cannot guarantee success! Success is down to action and many members of your sales team will need support from you to ensure that these new behaviours and skills become part of their habitual behaviours.
You need to create ongoing, measurable and simple support tools to ensure that the new behaviours happen. I follow the management-coaching-autonomy model. Initially I manage people in their actions, then I step back into a more reflective coaching model and finally I release them to take autonomy for their own actions. When I work with teams I take time to help managers to ensure that they know how to reinforce key behaviours.
I went to one company where the HR Department was briefing the sales teams by asking them to “assess the training and see what they thought of it!” This was a team who weren’t making hardly any proactive calls at all! What were they likely to take from this training? With a focus like that, not a lot! How easy would it have been for them to walk out saying, “Not for me that!” or “I don’t think it’s that relevant!”
The focus should have been, “We’re getting an expert in to help us. After this training we want you to come up with your own action plan on how you are going to use this to increase your daily activity and sales!” That way they know they are expected to act differently and that their ability to change and adopt the key sales training messages will be measured and managed.
It always amazes me when staff that are seriously under-performing are sent on training and come back and say they know it all. If they do then why aren’t they top performers?
Don’t let the wool be pulled over your eyes in your business or your sales team! Make sure that you create simple, repeatable tools that ensure new behaviours and that help to create a fun and energised environment, which is supportive of the new sales behaviours that you want in your business.
5) Celebrate success
It’s important that any achievement is recognised and that as your team put the work in you create ways to recognise their success. In my experience many directors are internally orientated when it comes to motivation that is they know when they’ve done a good job and don’t necessarily need telling.
Many of your sales staff, on the other hand, will need that recognition from you because they are externally motivated. When I’m consulting with businesses the number of staff who say things like, “I don’t feel appreciated” or “I just wish that someone would say well done” is phenomenal. Directors and managers often “forget” to tell them because they don’t need it themselves or tell them but not in a way that is explicit enough for their salespeople to hear it…
I worked with one director who thought that he always gave praise saying, “Well done” to his staff yet they thought that he never said anything to them an did not appreciate the work that they did on a daily basis.
What the director usually said was actually, “So what’s next then?” In his head that meant, “Job well done. Now we can feel good and move on!” Unfortunately, what his staff heard was, “I’m never happy with anything you do, I always want more out of you!” As you might imagine this was an easy problem to solve once I heard it happening.
Exercise: Get a sheet of paper and write down as many ways of celebrating success that you can. Try a simple “thank you”, competitions, games, wall-charts and email reminders for starters.
Most of all remember that taking action in developing a proactive, new-business sales team is not only essential it’s fun!